A few days ago I got the opportunity to ask "Houston “space-rockers” Handsomebeast!". They are ready to release a new single and video called "Playboi". The guys have not released anything since 2016, but that is soon to change. This first single introduces this new "Playboi" character and this will not be the last we hear from him.
After hearing the single myself, all I can say is that it's very good and very catchy. Funky in al the right ways! Plus the video for the single is fantastic! Check out what they had to say!
Desert of my Eye (Pao, owner): First of all you guys have great music! It's so catchy and funky. Love it. Besides the name being inspired by Ron Burgundy, who is Handsomebeast and what can you tell me about the band? I saw some of the Youtube uploads go back to 2012 and your last album was in 2016.
Handsomebeast: Thank you! That is a very kind thing to say. Broadly speaking, we are an eccentric group of close friends that all taught each other how to play music. Everybody in the band except for Nick grew up in Houston, and played in bands with each other since we were 13 years old. We played a lot of punk rock growing up, which undoubtedly led to our collectively rugged and masculine exterior. We then played some blues, then some experimental rock, and then created Handsomebeast, which was founded upon the principles of funk and such.With Playboi, and the music that is following it, we feel that we’ve truly hit our stride. This music is as suave and interesting as we’d like to imagine we are.
D.O.M.E: Do you think that the band's name, Handsomebeast, has transitioned into a more literal thing with this new "Playboi" single?
Hb: I must imagine so. Perhaps we’ve willed it into existence.
D.O.M.E: What is it inspired by?
Hb: We were watching a bunch of classic heist / crime movies at the time, and I think some of that noir spirit creeped into the songwriting process. We also were motivated to try and experiment with more minimal song structures...we wanted to make something you could play out of some trunk speakers next to the paleta man.
D.O.M.E: The video is great. I was not expecting the heist towards the end! What's the concept behind it? I read that it's the first of a series with the "Playboi" character. What can we expect next?Hb: A tasteful twist into crime can be an effective way to get the proverbial party going! The “Playboi” video is basically a glimpse into the world of that Playboi character and his cronies, or as we like to call them, “The Goons.” They work hard and they play hard. And by work I mean commit crimes. This definitely isn’t the last time we’ll see these characters.
D.O.M.E: How/why did you guys decide to shoot in NOLA?
Hb: We try to get over to NOLA as often as we can. There is no city like it. The band actually originally formed there in 2009 while Nick, Tony, Peewee and Jacob were students in the music industry program at the Loyola University New Orleans. Nick ended up living there and attending school for 4 years (even graduating from Loyola, surprisingly) before moving to Houston to join the boys in order to seriously pursue global dominance with Handsomebeast. So we still have a pretty serious love affair with NOLA and I assume we always will.
D.O.M.E: On a different note, how do you think being from Houston influences the band's sound?
Hb: We don’t sip the syrup in Houston, but we’re pretty sure that some of it got into the water. I think there is a distinct Houston swagger that has seeped its way into our new music.
D.O.M.E: What are your influences?
Hb: We all have pretty varied tastes from an individual standpoint. But when it comes to Handsomebeast, we try to make musically ambitious pop tunes. So artists like Anderson .Paak Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Vulfpeck and St. Vincent are pretty inspirational for us. We also are getting into movies as musical inspiration, a la the heist theme of this video and song.
D.O.M.E: For someone that might be hearing Handsomebeast for the first time, is there something you want to add?!
Hb: Follow us on instagram @handsomebeasttx! We don’t use instagram as a slutty promotional tool; we use it to try and make people laugh and also to express ourselves visually, In a sexy way.
The Other Half is a great local band who has opened up shows for bands like Miike Snow, the MainMan band, and has even played at the Neon Desert Music Festival!
A few weeks ago I got a chance to speak with Christian Yañez (drums/vocals), Steven Seigel (guitarist/vocals), and Joseph Saucedo (bassist/vocalist) of The Other Half and there we talked about them, their musical influences and more!
We were outside in the front patio area of the Lowbrow Palace a few minutes before they took the stage where I started off by asking the guys what led them to start the band. There is always something beyond just a friendship and just a bond over music that leads a group of people to start their own project.
To that, Steven answered, "for the most part, we have a passion for making music. For me it's emotional. It's a form of therapy. It's a good way to connect to your city and culture by playing music that kind of made you the person that you are. We started this as a band called "Electric Social" and all three of us were previous members of it. When that died out, I just found a connection between these two guys and it felt kind of right to continue this journey with them."
To follow that up, I asked them whether being a band from the border has influenced them as a band or their approach to their music.
Joseph answered, "in regards to growing up on the border. You know, we derive our influences from both American and Mexican influences. We derive our sound, for the most part, from all our upbringings and nationalities."
Life on the border can definitely expose one to different music and sounds so I wanted to know what kind of sound The Other Half describes themselves as. The guys joked and tried to ask me what I thought of their sound. I told them I would answer that after the interview so Steven responded, "when we started The Other Half it was four of us. Two guitarists and a bass. We were indie from beginning to end, but when we started the sound was heavier. More rock and roll in a sense, but we started transitioning to a more melodic and complex way. Not the standard bridge, chorus, bridge and I think that is what lead to the loss of our fourth member. He was more for the heavier rock and roll sound, but that was not the direction the band was going as a whole. So once it went down to the three members I wouldn't go as far as saying it's experimental, but it's also not your standard way of music writing. Our songs can tend to be kind of long sometimes and that is when that comes into play."
The guys mentioned that they have "cut down" on their music writing in the sense that some of their songs used to be seven or eight minutes long. "But to answer your question, we are indie for the most part." They definitely have a complex indie sound in my opinion and it's cool to see that they are not afraid to break away from traditional music writing standards.
I asked the guys if they had any big influence that has somehow translated into their music or their dynamic as a band. Steven replied, "I went to high school with Joseph and there was a moment in time where The Beatles were everything. There was also a moment in time during a bus ride home where we listed to Modest Mouse for the first time and that led to The Strokes, Arctic Monkeys, which all of us three like. Joseph has his like Interpol side, but every genre I don't have down, he does. We kind of all finish off each other. I am not too well into Hip-Hop, but you know Christian has it down."
It's cool to see when a band feeds off each other and learns from each other. It's part of what makes The Other Half unique in the local music scene.
As it got close to the time the guys were supposed to go on stage, I ended the interview by asking them whether they had any new material in the works and Steven answered by saying, "we are currently trying to finish up our album. We released an EP in 2015 and we plan on releasing a full length album, hopefully, within the next three or four months. Once we finish that, it's back to the drawing board again and on to the next venture!"
Chrisitian added, "this will be significantly different from our EP. There will be a lot more depth to it." He was referring to how much they have improved and grown as a band in the past three years.
The Other Half played a great set after the interview and it's exciting to see what they have in store for the near future! If you haven't checked them out, I recommend you do!
Keep up with them on Instagram as: @theotherhalfsies !!!
"I feel that there are a lot of people who are open to hearing Latin music and it helps them open their curiosity to wanting to get to know the different rhythms of the world" - Paulina Sotomayor.
All the way from Mexico City hails the brother and sister duo made up of Paulina and Raul Sotomayor and together they are known as Sotomayor. This past week the internationally known band, made their way down to El Paso as they played the last leg of their U.S.A tour, "Conquistador Tour 2018".
"Conquistador" marks the second album for Sotomayor. It is full of that "flavor" and latin rhythms that Sotomayor has become known for. This album further pushes the global bass sound and not only that, but it fuses cumbia, peruvian chicha, and afro beats amongst other genres and electronic music.
Previously the brother and sister duo were known for their other projects. Paulina is known as the drummer of a rock/folk band "Jefes Del Desierto" and Raúl is recognized as one half of "Beat Buffet" as well as the creator of the Sunday afternoon party, "Day Off", which showcased "global bass acts around the world ".
Paulina and Raul, along side their live band took the stage at the Lowbrow Palace on Friday evening where they pumped everyone up with their music, dancing and singing. Paulina came out in a shamanistic like drape alongside her signature glittery eye make-up and as soon the first note was played, the crowd went wild. Everyone that was there responded to every beat of each song. It was truly a magical experience to see this exchange of feelings and dancing on the floor and on stage! Sotomayor played some of their hits including "Electrico", "Morenita", and "Pum Pum". Not only that, but they ended their show with a Spanish rendition of "Hotline Bling" a la Sotomayor.
For the first time ever in a joint interview with Antonio Baca, editor-in-chief of Con Safos Magazine, we sat down at a Japanese-inspired restaurant, Keadama, with Sotomayor to ask them a few questions about their experiences on tour and their project.
Antonio Villaseñor Baca: Can you tell me about the tour? I know you guys just arrived from Mcallen. How has the tour been? It's also the first time you guys have a lot of dates throughout Europe.
Raul: Today's show is very special because, precisely, it is the last one. We have been doing this for about three months now and it started in Europe. In May, we went to Madrid, France, Berlin, Copenhagen, and we were even at a festival with music around the world in Spain. It was like 15 days of just touring. It was a lot more intense than what we are doing now. At one point we played four shows in four different countries in the span of four days. It consisted of waking up early, going to sound check, playing and repeating that again for two weeks. When we finished with those shows we had a small break to kind of rest but not even because we played a big show in Mexico City. For the first time, we did a show (only Sotomayor) in a medium sized venue. It was an important challenge for us to be able to do a show that lasts two hours and not forty minutes and with all the production done by us. And now we just did Los Angeles, San Francisco, Phoenix, San Antonio, McAllen, El Paso and then tomorrow Juarez.
Paulina: There are still a lot of things pending. It seems like the calendar is ending for us, but in reality that's not the case. We still have upcoming shows in Costa Rica, Colombia, Peru, and Dominican Republic. They are big shows for us and we are very excited for them. Everything has gone by so fast. Normally, the life a band goes a bit slower but we are grateful that everything has been able to happen in such an organic manner and we see how people really enjoy this project. One notices this. One notices that people want to be able to share a bit of conversation with us and even go as far as inviting us for a drink and just being able to give them that time. It's very inspiring when people tell us very nice things. It leaves one the "homework" of enjoying our project and trying to understand why we do what we do.
AVB: How do you guys feel or how do you see people receiving this project?
Desert of my Eye (Pao:Owner): May I add to his question? Not only is the question how have people responded to this project, but also how is it that you guys decided to fuse certain beats and music together. It's music from your roots with a modern twist on it. How did that come about and why do you think it's important to do so especially in today's times?
R: I think that the two things that happen with Sotomayor is that the growth (of the band) has happened so fast in just the three years. When we sit down and realize that we toured the world in just three months, it's crazy based on the fact that we have existed for barley three years. In turn, the load becomes heavy for us because we feel a certain type of responsibility. I think all this (the growth) has happened because we fuse electronic music with other things. It's not only innovative, but it's also something that other people in the world can relate to. In this tour, we got too see a little bit of everything. Like when we played in Denmark where no one speaks Spanish and many don't even know where Mexico falls on the map or don't even know what a cumbia is and yet they came out to see us. That says a lot about the reach Latin music. The fact that we don't do reggeaton, but still people appreciate it turns to be something interesting.
P: I feel that there are a lot of people who are open to hearing Latin music and it helps them open their curiosity to wanting to get to know the different rhythms of the world. This all started because my brother is a dj, dj de toda la vida, and that includes his use of global bass, world music, chicha music, cumbia villera, or even Mexican boleros. All these things can be utilized to add a modern rhythm to it. It ends up working out because people, from what we see, love to dance. I think this medium that we use helps people connect to that music and our music. Music is not only Latin, but it has a lot of mysticism and energy that ends up working out.
R: Can I add to that? It's been cool to arrive somewhere like Paris and see a big reunion of Mexicans there with the Mexican flag. It's been very special to us. First of all, to see that there are a lot of Mexicans around the world and to see that our shows have become meeting points for that is amazing. It has happened to us a lot especially here in the U.S. People are very grateful in the sense that we are traveling to certain places.
AVB: Talking about how you guys have traveled a lot and crossed many, many borders what have been your experiences been crossing these borders especially crossing la frontera between the U.S and Mexico?
P: We have had a lot of experiences. Good and bad ones.
D.O.M.E: That's what I wanted to touch on as well especially with what is going on and how it feels to be here.
P: I feel like it is this thing where one wants to come in the most legal way possible. Sometimes it's not like that in the beginning, but now we are trying to take care of every single detail. It is this question of "Ok if I cross, how many days can I be here or what if my visa says I can be here for certain amount of days?" There are a lot of obstacles in this process. One has to investigate and do research in order for things to go in order en el context gringo.
R: El Paso was one of the places we really wanted to come to. When we went to Mcallen for the first time, it was such a great experience. What we saw was something we didn't understand. People connected with us because they identified with us. We played a festival and before us, four punk bands played and then when we came out on stage and started playing electoro-cumbia, it was beautiful to see how our music really called out to the people. They all of a sudden had something that they could identify with and that was very special to us. I remember that that day someone took us out to eat and he told us that he felt too gringo in order to be Mexican but to Mexican to be in order to be gringo. We had never been to El Paso before and we wanted to see what would happen.
AVB: Digressing from this topic regarding the tour, how is it that you guys came up with your sound and this style of music?
D.O.M.E: Not only that, but you guys have an extensive background. How is it that you guys decided that you wanted to embark on a music project together a brother and sister?
P: It all happened very organically. My brother was doing remixes of some songs and one day I went over to his house and he showed me the songs he was working on and we decided to try the songs out and how they would work out with my voice and we really ended up liking the result. It all happened so fast. We released the first album and soon after that we were invited to play the Vive Latino Festival and it was a moment where we realized that we could live off of our music. It became our full time job.
R: Pau was always doing other projects. I knew she played the drums and that she sings well and I knew no one was taking advantage of that, which is why I decided to have her sing on this project. I know well, as her brother, what she can do. That allowed us to put together things faster. I know what she likes and what she can do. In terms of the type of music and it's identity, that was more on my side. It something that kind of happened because I have had problems with bands that sing in English and want to sound like Radiohead. A lot of the bands in the 2000's wanted to sound like Interpol, it's not that I don't like it but I don't identify with it. If a band is Mexican, they should at least try to sing in Spanish. Then there was this moment where everything was electro-cumbia and I didn't want to straight up copy that sound and be like everyone else. I wanted to be different and with Sotomayor that is what happened and it's allowed us to have a place in the music scene.
After that question, I asked Sotomayor how their collaborations come about whether it is for music or music videos to which they responded it was either through a mutual collaboration or friendship. It's always a pleasure to be able to talk to a band with such great insight. It was truly an awesome night. The experience that is a Sotomayor show will leave you wanting more and will also leave you with a rush of adrenaline after the show. I recommend that people check them out if they haven't already.
Fotos by Antonio Villaseñor Baca.
Banner by: dotodotjulio
Interviews and playlists of local bands and international artists.