This year the Argentinian Spanish Rock icon Fito Paez released an album and it's called "La Ciudad Liberada". Fito Paez is not only a Latin Grammy Award winner, but he is also a pianist, lyricist, singer song-writer, and even a film director! Paez released his first album "Del '63" in 1984 and now, this new album will mark his twenty-third. Wowza! This man never stops and he is definitely a visionary!
"La Ciudad Liberada" is an eighteen track album that is full of political themed rock songs as well as love songs. Fito Paez has never shied away from themes like that of religion, politics, love, hate, and even sexuality. As one can see from the album cover below, it is Fito's face with a woman's body. Thought provoking for many reasons. It taps into breaking gender norms, gender labels, sexuality, modesty, and the comfort of being naked. Even as the title suggests, "La Ciudad Liberada" translated as "the liberated city" can mean many things.
This eighteen track album has songs that feel like they belong in a different genre but they all work together. The single "La Ciudad Liberada" is the main anthem for the album and a video was recently released for it. The video shows a city and a girl walking through it. Fito surrounded by a cardboard city and he starts singing:
"En parque Patricios, la cuidad de Buenos Aires
Existe un refugio para la gente que no tiene a nadie
Vivir y morir en la calle, allí siempre fui feliz
Vivir y morir en la calle, que delirio sin ti"
She looks like she is in a suffering state, which reflects on what Paez's lyrics are saying. As the video progresses, this woman crawls into a cardboard fort and turns into a warrior. A warrior for herself and her city. As the girl walks through the city in her new warrior suit, Paez's cardboard city get destroyed by him and bursts of color as he chants "quiero vivir en la ciudad liberada". This video is really a treat and I recommend for anyone to go check it out.
This Saturday the indie rock band, Little Jesus, came to El Chuco to play at the Neon Desert Music Festival. Their set brought all the magia that their fans (including myself) could ask for. They really brought all the energy to the stage considering how hot it was outside! Little Jesus, known to play within the genre of "tropipop" belted out their hits including: "La Magia", "Pesadilla", and "Nuevo Mexico" amongst others. They brought in a crowd of people that was made up of Little Jesus fans and people that were hearing them for the very first time. I believe that's part of the beauty of festivals and the power of music in which it brings people together whether they are familiar with something or not.
Little Jesus is a band from Mexico City and they began in 2012 after Santiago Casillas (vocals/guitar) had to start a band kind of on the quicks after being asked to open up for another band. He got a group of friends to help him play some of the songs he already had and Little Jesus was born. The band is made up of Santiago, Truco Sánchez Rucobo (drums), Fernando Bueno (guitar), Arturo Vázquez-Vela (keyboards), and Carlos Medina (bass). Since the start of the band, Little Jesus has found popularity very quickly in their career. They already have two albums Norte and Rio Salvaje and they have played all over Mexico, did SXSW in 2014, are currently playing some U.S. tour dates and they are also playing a festival in L.A. later this year. Wow!
This Saturday I got to talk to Santiago and Truco where I got to ask them a few questions after their set. I started off by asking them what they thought about the festival to which their response was positive. "It was super awesome. Estuvo chido la neta. We had heard that it is a festival in downtown El Paso. We haven't taken the time to check out the rest of the festival, but we will soon. I bet it's awesome." Little Jesus has played in Ciudad Juárez several times, however, this is their first time playing in El Paso. Santiago mentioned, "We love the vibe here. It feels the same on both sides of the border. There is a lot of youth here that was born in El Paso and has family on the other side of the border and vice-versa. One can feel some sort of union between these two countries and theses two cities."
I then asked them if they were going to catch a show later on that day and Santiago responded, "we are going to see our friend Caloncho's show and um.... Lil Wayne". After a few laughs, I asked them about the L.A festival, La Tocada Music Festival, in August. Not only that, but I asked them what it means for them as a indie Mexican rock band in regards of how far they have gotten and where they want to go from here. "It feels awesome. We have been playing and playing and playing in many places for six years. It is very gratifying because from a group of friends that got together to play we have achieved so much. Music has lead us to travel the world, meet new people, and make new friends. We want to keep doing this. Doing this forever if possible."
To end the interview I had to ask them about their music influences. Who inspired you and who is inspiring you now? Santiago started explaining, "I listened to a lot of music growing up. When I grew up, I started paying attention to the lyrics of songs like that of Radiohead. I also remember taking a class on Afro-pop and wanting to play songs of that genre and starting to incorporate that more in my music, but then I started getting into all that psychedelic stuff like the psychedelic era of The Beatles and Pink Floyd. I kinda wanted to mix that in with the rock-pop we were doing."
Working on anything new? "Yes, we are working on our new album. We are still in the composition process and we hope to release at least a single by the end of the year. Hopefully, if we hurry we can release the album this year. If not, next year."
I want to thank Little Jesus for the incredible show. Keep up with their shenanigans and upcoming shows on their Instagram @thelittlejesus
"Succes and failure is all part of the process, but it's also the ability to see beyond the issue."
Last week I had the pleasure of talking to Gonzalo Castex of the Latin Grammy nominated No Te Va Gustar for a quick interview. NTVG is celebrating and touring due the release of their lastest album "Suenan Las Alarmas". This very popular nine-piece Uruguayan band has not only enjoyed more than twenty years together, but this latest album also reflects the maturity that comes from all those years of playing together. One of the single's off this new album includes "Pegame Mas Fuerte" and the new version of a past song of their's, "Los Villanos" , which features Flor De Toloache and the vocals of Dr. Shenka from Panteon Roccoco! Great songs right off the bat, you can imagine how good the rest of the album is. Might I add that, "the artistic production was carried out by Héctor Castillo, the talented Venezuelan producer and four time Latin Grammy winner for ¨Ahí Vamos¨ and ¨Fuerza Natural¨ by Gustavo Cerati, as well as being internationally recognized for his work with Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, Aterciopelados and David Bowie, within others. The mastering was done by Dave Mc Nair."
No Te Va a Gustar was formed around 1994 when the band members were just teens. Since then they have grown and toured around the world. What is interesting is that the music industry and the way music is distributed has changed drastically from 1994 to 2018. I had to ask Gonzalo what that transition was like for the band. "The truth is that it has been a huge change. I say it is better to go down the "passionate" road and to try to make the best possible. Music was listened to in a different way than it is today. It has been a positive thing to adapt to and we continue adapting. Only time will tell what is next." Not only is adapting one thing, but disc formatting is another and he added that that even though digital downloading of music is very popular, the band keeps putting out a physical version of their material. "One of the things I noticed with this change is the ability to discover new artists. It's easier. Also, it's easier to edit music! You can edit it anywhere unlike like back then. It's possible to listen to it in real time. Back then it was harder and took more time. Now it's all a smoother process." There is no doubt about that.
Twenty years later, NTVG is still making music and bringing in crowds. It's hard for a band, in general, to last so long, so I asked him how they have been able to keep this nine-piece band together for so long. "It's a journey. Definitely not impossible. Being that it's so many of us, we also have a lot in common. We love playing together and we love what we do! It's what we love doing and we love each other's company. It's a a change from playing at age 18 to 40." That's the maturity not only reflects on their relationship as a band, but it reflects on the new album.
Talking about the new album, I asked Gonzalo whether the political and love themes were intentional while making the album and he said, "well, there have always been themes like that within our albums. We don't incline one way or the other. We try to focus on things that are happening in the moment." To that, I asked him to walk me through the album cover and why they chose that (featured above). " We had thought about it for a while. It's a little bit of what we are going through. It's a sensation. A permanent alarm. Everything that is going on: politics, war, etc is red. A bomb! We felt like this album has strength and the album art has impact." It really make one reflect on it.
To end the interview, I asked Gonzalo how excited the band was to tour especially since they are playing at the Machaca Festival in Monterrey and he responded by saying, "It's a pleasure! Being away from home, we try to do the most possible. We put all our effort into it. We love playing our songs for different crowds especially in festivals. We can reach an audience that has never heard us before."
A big thank you to No Te Va Gustar and follow them on Instagram to see what is going on @notevagustaroficial.
"Tex-Mex punk rock y desmadre desde San Antonio, Texas"
Last week I caught up with Àlvaro Del Norte of Piñata Protest to talk about their latest album, "Necio Nights", amongst other things. Piñata Protest is a Tex-Mex punk band from San Antonio, Texas and they are currently touring and promoting their new album! The band consists of: Àlvaro Del Norte (vocals and accordionist), Richie Brown (vocals and electric bass), Chris-Ruptive (drums and vocals) and Regino Lopez (guitar). The style of music this fasted-paced band plays fuses punk rock with tex-mex music, cumbia, huapango, and many other Norteño rhythms. The band embraces both sides of their heritage through their music, lyrics, album art, and the fact that they sing in both English and Spanish. They have traveled around the U.S,, Mexico and Canada and they are set to play a few shows in Spain. Not only that, but during their career they have played with musicians like Brujería, Molotov, and even Ramón Ayala!
The new album, "Necio Nights", from Piñata Protest not only features several musical guests, but it "captures a maturing band now fully rooted with its musical identity but that continues to explore and cross their boundaries without diminishing their energy in any moment."
In my interview with Àlvaro, I asked him about what he thinks of la frontera and what it means to him considering the band's name and the music they play. Not only that, but he happened to be in El Paso at the time the interview took place. "To me, it's a place where two worlds come together. It's a very unique mix that doesn't exist anywhere else. Even the U.S.-Canada border has it's own culture. I was born on the border of Nuevo Laredo (Texas) and you know, I spent most of my life there. Not anymore because of the way things are, but I am fond of border towns and I relate to people on the border. They seem to get it better than other people."
Agreeing with his statement, I asked him how being from San Antonio, a hub of cultures yet predominantly Mexican-American, has affected their music and the genre they play. "A lot of the Norteño music that influences our sound is considered border music and punk-rock is more American. The band is a reflection of those two worlds coming together." There is no doubt that the band reflects those two things. Not only that, but they have been around for ten years playing their music and it's no easy feat. I asked Àlvaro how the band has been able to keep itself together and has been able to keep doing what they love. He responded by saying, "things keep getting better and we keep growing. We are going to Spain in a couple of weeks and I am very excited about that. To the motherland! Sometimes I feel like I am crazy for continuing this for ten years, but you know I love it so much. I love playing shows and moving people emotionally. The adventure of it all like touring and not knowing what is going to happen is the best. It's always an adventure and it's fun."
We then transitioned to talking about the album and Àlvaro mentioned that, ""Necio Nights" is our third album and we released it last month. It's the album we have always wanted to release. In terms of the production we are very proud of it. We wanted to make it something new and add to it. We are happy with it and we have received great feed back from it."
I am glad people have received this album well. It truly is a treat! A huge thanks to Piñata Protest for their time and great music! Follow them on Instagram @pinataprotest to keep up with what the band has going on!
"Sin una idea no hay expresión." - Caloncho
A week ago Caloncho came to play an acoustic set at the El Paso County Coliseum as part of the Amarte Tour with Mon Laferte and Juanes. However, he will soon come back to the Sun City for the Neon Desert Music Festival. Caloncho is a Mexican musician and for those that have not heard of him before, his style of music mixes a lot of folk with reggae amongst other genres of music. I'd say it's a very tropical/Caribbean sound and Caloncho's soft voice helps transport one to distant paradises. Es un ritmo Caribeño. In my case, it transports me to the edge of a beach in Mexico just as the sun is about to set and I am reflecting back on my day.
Caloncho was born in Oregón, Sonora but grew up most of his life in Guadalajara, Jalisco. From a young age he listened to all kinds of music, but was very fond of the music that is reggae and in particular Bob Marley. It was in 2011 when Caloncho produced his first EP Homeotermo and it was followed by Fruta (2013), Fruta Vol. ll (2015) and now Bálsamo (2017).
This past week I was able to talk to Caloncho a day before the concert and we discussed his album Bálsamo, the Amarte Tour and the fact that Caloncho is coming with his full band in less than two weeks for NDMF. I started off the interview by asking him what he thought of El Paso and la frontera in general considering Caloncho has played here several times (mostly Juárez). He said that he enjoys the border a lot and that he has visited El Paso before. "I like El Paso as much as Juárez. I came to El Paso often when I was younger because I have family here on the border. I also love the desert." I am happy that Caloncho is familiar with this frontera and desert landscape. Something else I am happy about is Caloncho's positive music and how it reflects his perspective on life.
Through his music he portrays such a positive outlook on life, especially the album he released last year. He literally has a song called Optimista! It's hard not to catch on those vibes. I had to ask him how he does it and how this perspective has been able to be reflected on his feel-good music. He started off by saying the quote above: "Sin una idea no hay expresión." Translated, that says without an idea there is no expression. By expression he is referring to the expression of art, music, amongst other things. "Digressing from this premise, all my songs are personal. In the album Bálsamo, there are a lot of elements of Buddhism. They are ideas that I learned and I tried to translate that to some of my songs. I try to be as positive as possible. Life is essentially short." I agree with Caloncho's words and there is no doubt that those ideas are found in his work.
Caloncho and I continued to talk about a few more songs on his album, when I decided to asked him about how the process of writing Bálsamo differed from the others considering that this is his fourth album and his sound has matured. "Every day we are changing. Every day we encounter stimulus from different things. I look for these things. In this past album, we used instruments that we had not used before, synths, and we had a different producer." Most of the time, with trying new things, comes new hobbies and Caloncho is known for having several hobbies like: skating, going the beach, and many other things. "It's crazy because I keep finding new things in music. My mind is another place all the time. For example, while on the road, I try to read as much as possible. I enjoy every day pleasures like eating and walking to places. Seeing new things."
As a fun follow up question I asked Caloncho what he would do if Bob Marley was still alive and he had the opportunity to work with a band like Sublime as well. "Wow. Imagine if that was possible?! Of course I would collaborate with both! It would be amazing. I actually wrote a song (lullaby) for my daughter Julia in which I tell her that is she sees Bob Marley in her dreams, to enjoy the moment."
Parts of the lyrics for Julia say:
Y vuela los cielos y nada los mares conoce a Bob Marley
disfruta el instante.
Apago la luz somos humanos cansados no tengas miedo
que aquí me quedo
a tu lado a tu lado.
It's such a sweet song. Calm and soothing. Caloncho has a great ability of doing that.
As an end to the interview, I asked Caloncho about the Amarte Tour and his experience so far as well as his thoughts on the Neon Desert Music Festival. "Touring in the U.S is very different. The venues are great and some of them even have laundry services! I am very excited! In regards, to the Neon Desert Music Festival I am very excited as well. I will actually have my whole band with me for the festival. I heard that this festival takes over downtown El Paso." Indeed, it does! Can't wait to see the difference between Caloncho's acoustic set and seeing his whole band play at NDMF.
Thank you Caloncho for your time! Too keep up with what he has going on, follow him on Instagram as @elcaloncho.
All photos by Diego Guillen.
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Interviews and playlists of local bands and international artists.