Palenke Soultribe is a Colombian group that's based in the beautiful and magical city of Los Angeles, California. Following the release of "Oro" (2009) and "Mar" (2013), they are getting ready to release "Sangre", the third album of their trilogy. So far the very catchy and rhythmic single "El Retorno" has been released alongside their lyric video for it. This collective is made up of: Juan Diego Borda, Andres "Popa" Erazo, Argel Cota, and Clodomiro Montes and I recently caught up with one of the members of Palenke Soultribe to talk about their new material and future plans.
Upon asking about their new single I was told that "El Retorno" is basically an homage to the working class and the people that fight they have for their dreams. "We plan on releasing a song every 2-3 months. This song is a cumbia with electronic elements. It's a bout a person that goes around the world looking for fortune and when he comes back home he realizes that love was there all along and continues to be." It really is a catchy song with a great message of life and the fortune that is love. Since the full album hasn't been released yet, I asked whether there is a theme to "Sangre" and I was told that " In 2009, we wanted to do something to do with the Colombian flag and since it has three colors we made three albums. It created this unintended obligation to finish the three albums. "Sangre" is more of a symbolic album where sangre or blood is more representative of passion and the heart rather than violence." We then talked about how there is violence in Colombia yet they wanted to focus on the good instead of the negative.
I then asked how it felt to be a Colombian group based in L.A and how they have carried their roots throughout their musical journey. "We have been living in L.A for about ten years and our music is a reflection of who we are. How can we reflect this in our music? We not only bring in our roots, but we collaborate with many people as well. For example we have a song with one of the band members of Kinky." He went on to saying that there are "two currents" that have influenced the band and that is " traditional Colombian music, cumbia, and salsa. However we are open to all kinds of music. Band that have influenced us along this journey have been Daft Punk, Underworld and My Chemical Brothers."
Besides being influenced by many things, Palaneke Soultribe are the pioneers of "electro-cumbia" and I asked how the birth of that genre came about. "It feels great to hav been one of the first to do this. Colombia has been under violence for a while, but out of this came a generation that said "I am not about this" and focused their energy elsewhere like in music and new fusions. All we have is to keep growing."
To finalize the interview, I gave the band the opportunity to add anything they wanted to say or wanted people to know about them and Palenke Soutribe added that they invite everyone to go follow them on their social medias, which they are personally active on. They also added that they are giving away their single "El Retorno" to the first 1,000 people that go visit their soundcloud page and download it.
Thank you to Palenke Soultribe for their time! Go follow them on Instagram: @palenkesoultribe
Formally known as "Pachucos y la princesa", Jenny and the Mexicats are currently on tour due to celebrating their ten year anniversary as a band. They stopped by Tricky Falls last week where their energy was felt by everybody in the venue. They played some of their hits including "Verde Más Álla", "Boulevard", and "Flor". The show was amazing and the the magic this band produces is out of this world. What I mean by magic is the wonderful chemistry this band has with one another during the show and the great fusion that is their music. For those that don't know, Jenny and the Mexicats combine sounds of reggae with folk, flamenco, country, cumbia, veracruzano, and so much more. It really is a treat for the ears!
After the show, I met up with the band and with the whole band present, I asked them how it felt to be together as a band for about ten years and the experience of it all. Jenny (singer/trumpeter) answered, "It feels good. There is a lot of love here and kindness. With the passing of time, one comes to appreciate what one has. We have taken care of each other and we have taken care of our music, our band and we are happy to be here where we are today." There is no denying that the band takes care and loves one another. As I mentioned above, the chemistry between them is genuine on-stage and off-stage. It's hard to describe in writing, but if you go see them live y'all will know what I mean.
Ten years is a long time to be together with a group of people so naturally I asked what their experiences traveling together have been and how those travels have reflected on their music. Pantera (guitarist/singer) said, "our music reflects the places which we visit. We like to immerse ourselves with the folklore of the place we are visiting. We like it when we go to South American and we get to see how they do local music there. We like to hang out with musicians from the zone we are visiting whether it's Spain or England or somewhere. We are always evolving alongside the places we go visit." The whole band shook their head in agreement as Pantera finished saying that. All harmoniously synchronized.
I had to ask how they have that bond and what it's due to. David (percussionist) was the first to say, "from day one we have had so much energy on stage. The music we do lends itself to create that bond we have and we enjoy playing so much that we try to transmit that to the public. We transmit it that to the crowd and enjoy the concert and then the crowd enjoys it as much as we do." As a follow up, I asked them what their favorite parts of being musicians were because everybody has their side of the story and David quickly said, "playing, traveling and meeting people. We enjoy being able to play in front of a crowd that has never heard any of our music and seeing their reactions. It's those little details which we love and appreciate so much. We love what we do and it's what we most enjoy about it." Jenny added to what David said and mentioned that it is truly a treat to see people's reaction when they hear their music for the first time. "Today, some guy's girlfriend brought him to the show and he had never heard our music before and he ended up enjoying the concert and that made me very happy." They truly do show how happy they are to do what they do and it reflects in their music, shows, and even the connection they have with their fans.
This is not the first time that Jenny and the Mexicats have played on the border of El Paso and Juarez and to that I had to ask them about traveling to this border and other borders and what their thoughts and experiences are. Icho (bassist) took this question and said, "we like la frontera. We do very well here. I feel like El Paso and Juarez are not even "a frontera" and it feels more like a city divided by a bridge. We feel the same love and warmth playing on either side. From the very first time we came to Juarez, we did very well and people have been so nice in receiving us. We feel the same sensation here in El Paso. It feels like the same city divided by a bridge rather than "a wall". This border is very "relaxed" compared to others we have been to. Honestly, we just love coming here and being in the moment with the people here." It's true, after going to the show and seeing a crowd full of people from both sides of the border it is easy to see why Icho says it feels like the same city only divided by a bridge.
After joking around for a bit, Jenny ended with a thank you. "We couldn't do it without you guys. We live from this so it is nice that people support us. I want to let our fans know that we are going to put out a compilation album this year, which is a compilation of our three albums. There will be a little bit of each album we have made and we will also put a couple of songs from our demo "Pachucos y la princesa", which no one has heard."
I want to thank Jenny and the Mexicats so much for their time and warmth. Their presence is one-of- a-kind and I invite everyone to follow them on Instagram and keep up with what they have going on @jennyandthemexicats !!!
Nashville, Tennessee's Blank Range stopped by to play at the Lowbrow Palace over a week ago just before they headed out to SXSW. The band is made up of Jonathon Childers (singer/guitar), Grant Gufstafson (singer/guitarist), Matt Novotny (drummer), Taylor Zachary (bassist). This psychedelic country-rock band also recently released the video for their single "Opening Band", which is on their Youtube channel. Not only that, but they recently did an Audiotree session (which is fantastic) and they even played at Willie Nelson's ranch for the Luck Reunion. Blank Range is on the road and busy, but if you have a chance go watch them live go do it. After seeing them, I can truly say how amazing they are and how nostalgic their music made me for all the right reasons.
I met up with the guys for a quick interview at The Outpost located in El Paso, Texas before they had to go do soundcheck for their show at the Lowbrow Palace that night. I started off by asking the guys what this tour was all about. Grant answered by saying that this tour kicked off because they had a few shows with Margo Price on a west coast run and that was "the core of this tour. These last shows at the tail end have been on our own." Jonathon added how great Margo is and that for those that have not heard/seen her to go check her out. "It's a group of friends from Nashville and her, so it was a lot of fun touring with them."
I then pointed out that I read that although the band is Tennessee-based, most of the of them are from Illinois. My question was regarding their background and living in Nashville and how that has shaped the band itself, especially since Nashville is a hub of many different genres of music. Grant said that, "everybody has a pretty eclectic taste in this band. We synthesize it in a way that comes out as something original. Matt and I actually studied jazz in college and I think we draw on that in many ways." Jonathan added to what Grant said by stating that, "growing up in the Midwest, we had a lot of influence from new music that was good. We had the pop station and the alternative rock station and I ended up listening to that and a lot of classic rock growing up, cause, you know, that's where I grew up. That stayed with me and I still listen to that stuff, but I have gone more towards the song-writer end of that." He added that listening to Jackson Brown, Tom Petty, and Bob Dylan over the years had a great influence to him as well.
As this interview took place prior to the band arriving at SXSW, I asked them what their plans where while they were there and Grant was quick to say that, "the intention behind SXSW has become more vague over the years. We are playing a show at Willie Nelson's ranch and most shows at SXSW end up being a wash. There are so many people and so many bands. It can be tough for the bands especially if you are bringing in equipment from a few blocks away and playing at one o'clock to a crowd full of drunk people and then going to the next one. I feel like we did a better job this year by playing a few shows that we feel good about and feel are worth our while instead of playing as many shows as possible." However, to that Jonathan all of a sudden added that the band plans on releasing new material soon. He mentioned that they are in the mixing process and trying to finish everything up. They want release new material so they can tour as much as possible as soon as possible. Awesome!
Towards the end of the interview, I asked Blank Range how they felt about playing at Willie Nelson's ranch for the Luck Reunion that up-coming Thursday and Jonathon said, "It's pretty cool. We kind of found a home in the Americano world in the last year. Our sound can be hard to define. Some people define us as a rock band, but that doesn't get everyone through the door and we don't really belong on commercial rock radio so we have fallen in with playing with a lot of Americano people. We have been opening up for a lot of those bands and a lot of them are our friends and they will be there as well. There are a lot of people we are excited to see, plus Willie Nelson is playing which is going to be cool." He added that the Luck Reunion in the "world we are in" is basically an honor. "The all-star game of sorts", added Grant. As soon as that was said, I got asked where the best food in town was and it's easy to imagine where that conversation went.
A big thank you to Blank Range for their time and kindness! Check them out if you haven't and follow them on Instagram to see what they have going on: @blankrange.
"You can kind of become your own identity by being true to who you are. That's kind of what being a Swell Kid is. It's about the stuff we enjoy and not about winning over anybody when it comes to what we do."
By now a lot of people have heard about The Swell Kids. Two years after having had started this fun music project, the guys are now set to play at Neon Desert Music Festival in May. With excitement flowing, preparations, projects, and new music on the way, it is no wonder why this duo also caught Khalid's attention. In between a packed schedule, I recently caught up with Alex and Eddie of The Swell Kids to talk about some of the things they have going on as well right now as well as in the future.
The Swell Kids have always had a unique approach to what they do whether it is their clothes, music, and so much more! That's one of the first things I noticed when I saw them for the first time and I know I am not the only one. Meanwhile the guys were sitting on the coach and Frank Ocean playing in the background, I asked Alex and Eddie what it meant to be a Swell Kid and after a pause they said, "It's individuality for sure. It's being okay with who you are and not feeling like you have to be somebody else. It also means not having to follow any trends and being yourself. Instead, it's highlighting who you are in your everyday tasks and highlighting that in general as opposed to feeling like you need to fit in. You can kind of become your own identity by being true to who you are. That's kind of what being a Swell Kid is. It's about the stuff we enjoy and not about winning over anybody when it comes to what we do." What Alex mentioned, definitely reflects on how the two of them present themselves as The Swell Kids. Regardless of their clothing, their personalities still shine through their music. As one can see in the pictures, Alex is wearing all white and Eddie is wearing all black giving it that Yin-Yang effect, however, in a subliminal manner it points to their dynamic and why this duo completes one another musically and in their way of thinking.
If anyone has followed along with The Swell Kids from when they started to now, it's easy to see there has been an evolution in their sound, look, and work dynamic. All for the better of course. In October of 2017, the Swell Kids released an album titled Good Problems: A Collection of Feelings and are now getting ready to release new material. I asked them how their sound has changed and immediately Eddie chuckled, "I laugh because it's a complete 180 with what we are doing right now. We are now doing uplifting "lit" music. It's upbeat!" Alex added, "the last project we put out was something you can study to and drive around the city and listen to. I feel like the stuff we are doing now is upbeat and up-tempo and it will be stuff that people are used to hearing at our DJ sets. The projects we are doing now compliment that as opposed to our past projects which have a lot of feeling. It's a new direction with everything that's coming out." When I commented on why they decided to make this change, Eddie was quick to say "I just didn't want to be a sad boy no more."
It makes sense, as they mentioned, their newer projects are aligned to their DJ sets and as a music duo, that makes it fun for them and the people that go out and see them. It's also exciting to see where this new approach is heading, especially since the Neon Desert Music Festival is in two months. "I think something that we want to express as artists is that you are not limited to one genre. I feel like where we are right now, we can do whatever we want," Alex is referring to the fact that no one should feel limited because of a genre label or pressure of any sorts. It's a way to "push the envelope", but it's definitely working for artist like The Swell Kids.
Going further into how their music process works, the guys said it is random. "Eddie will come up with a beat and show me whatever he is working on and from there we go through all the beats and ideas Eddie has and we will pick whichever ones we like. There is no exact process to creating a track, but there is a process to when we start working on something." They further explained that they will have about twenty beats and they will go down the list picking out the coolest ones and working on them and much as they can. Process of elimination. It's evident that Eddie and Alex have a good communication and that they create what is better suited for them. As artists that take their craft seriously, it shows. They really put their touch on whatever is they are doing.
Additionally, the El Paso music scene has been growing rapidly within the last two years and I couldn't help but ask The Swell kids their opinions on it since they are part of the scene. "Recently, I have noticed that the El Paso music scene has been dedicated and very driven in being better music makers." Alex added to Eddie's comment and said that, "two years ago the music scene was there, but people weren't pushing themselves to make something big. I think that being from El Paso, people like Khalid, is kind of the poster child of saying, " Hey I am from El Paso and if I can do it, you can do it too." I think that's what lit the fire under everyone's butt here in El Paso. They saw that and said, "If this guy can make it, then why can't we?"" Both Alex and Eddie agree that the music scene has been really pushing themselves lately and really trying to make things happen. They talked some more about the local scene and talented people they have met along the way. Their love for it shows in how they expressed themselves about it. They guys are also grateful for those people, including Khalid, whom they recently had a chance to talk to and get great feedback and musical advice from. It's so motivating to see El Paso musicians supporting each other in different ways. It makes it more thrilling to see what the future holds.
If you are reading this keep an eye out for The Swell Kids. This is only the beginning. Lots of new projects are coming and as part of their latest "campaign", the guys have been sporting a shirt reading "Fuck the Swell Kids" and I asked them what the meaning behind it was. Alex answered, "Fuck the Swell Kids is something that I thought about. It's something Eddie and I will tell each other about different artists we look up to that do something that we would never have thought of. Even a simple idea like that of Tyler. The Creator's make us say, "Man, fuck Tyler. The Creator we wish we would have thought of that first" or "fuck Kendrick, dammit this guy is so good." This is more of an appreciation. These artists are so ahead of their time that I have nothing to say but "fuck you."" This further shows how much The Swell Kids are striving for more and thinking outside the box. It's mentality like that that brings the well deserved attention they have.
A big thank you to the Swell Kids! Remember to follow them on Instagram as @theswellkids for more information on their latest endeavors and shows! Catch them at Neon Desert Music Festival this May!
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Interviews and playlists of local bands and international artists.