"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.
Banner by: dotdotjulio
Interviews and playlists of local bands and international artists.