Most people felt lost (and still do) during the pandemic. However, this did not stop Valeria Wolf. As the pandemic began and she experienced the end of what she considers her first real heartbreak, instead of getting sad and indulging in this feeling, she used it a time to start her music journey. Although she is still navigating her way, her music is already so promising.
Valeria recently released her latest single, Aire, alongside the music video (below). It's honestly just a glimpse at her talent and what her future work will offer. Last week I had a chance to talk to Valeria and it was honestly such a treat. We started off with a nice ice-breaker and the rest is down below:
D.O.M.E: So, I see that you released your first single on June 23. Not everyone would think of starting their music career during quarantine/on-going pandemic. Did you ever think of waiting until it was "over" or were you like, "screw it, I'm going to go through with it and release this"?
Valeria: You see, I had spent a lot of time doing "nothing. Like nothing. I was in this funk. When I was in school, I was day dreaming a lot and when everyone graduated, all my friends went off to college and I spent a year without doing anything. When quarantine "hit", that's when I figured out what I wanted to do and I started going to music classes. When the pandemic began, I started taking this seriously. But I was determined to not waste anymore time and that is when I started writing and give it my all. I took [the pandemic] as an opportunity because everyone was in the same position I was [i.e referring to people staying at home].
D.O.M.E: So I was watching a few interviews in which you mentioned that you experienced a heartbreak and it used it as a catalyst to write "Aire". I want to be careful when phrasing this. When one thinks about quarantine and heartbreak in general, it's not really a happy time. How would you say this helped your creative process?
Valeria: I think each person handles a break up differently. This was my first real relationship. And my first real breakup. I didn't know how to handle it. At first I was really sad, then I wasn't. In a way, I think many artists, including myself, are very sensitive and sometimes I don't like showing it. So I have a hard time letting those feelings out. Once I processed the feelings from that situation, I kind of put them in the back of my mind. It wasn't until I sat down and started writing music that I could finally say it the way I wanted. In a way, it was very therapeutic. Sometimes it's good to feel those kinds of emotions because at least you are feeling something.
It was very therapeutic to be able to sort of embrace those feelings instead of pushing them away. I used it to make something cool and it came out. It was my way of processing it.
D.O.M.E: I understand that feeling of "it's better to feel something." I'm glad you were able to express those feelings. So, how did the idea for the video come about?
Valeria: The video came about because my friend, who took my photos for the EP, made a videoclip that I liked and I wanted her to make the video clip for the video. I told her to listen to the song and whatever comes to mind, write it down, and we can go from there. She was the one who sent me the script. I loved it. I did not change a single thing and said, "YES!". Everything she thought of, we included in the video.
D.O.M.E: Yeah it came out so good! So we touched on the heartbreak and all, but in reality, one could say that you are barely dipping your toes in the music industry. So how has your process been so far? Lyrics first? Melody? How was your process in the more technical aspect?
Valeria: I think it was destiny. I always took music classes but never payed attention. I was never good at school. Right before quarantine, I was taking it more seriously. I started talking to friends and professors and they would tell me "yeah you sing well". But in my mind I would freak out because I felt like I didn't know what to do and I started asking more questions.
I always wrote songs growing up but they were those "ugly" songs one writes when one is young. Like when you thought you were Hannah Montana. When I wrote my first song, the lyrics came first. It's called "Cachitos de Mango" (which is on the EP). When I learned more about music, I wrote the instrumentals to it and went from there. I showed it to my school friends and they liked it so it helped me gain confidence. I thought, "maybe I am not as bad as I thought I was".
You know, each song is different. It depends on the mood. With "Aire", I had some lyrics in mind then wrote a few bars on the piano, then messed around, and it came out. There are times I only have the lyrics and there are other times I only have the instrumentals, but it depends on the mood. Usually, I'll have some instrumentals, some lyrics, and then figure it out. And yeah.
D.O.M.E: Yeah it's good that you are finding your own approach to music. In one interview you mentioned that you didn't want to be boxed into one genre, are there other genres you would like to explore? Can you elaborate on what you meant in that interview?
Valeria: Well these are the first songs I have ever written (referring to the ones on the EP), and I wasn't thinking so much about the genre. They just came to be and I wasn't thinking too much in what genre. Now that I have more experience, a year more, I have more confidence in saying, "I like this genre, I'd like to do something here". I don't think it's cool to close yourself up to one genre because I am always changing, we are always changing. I will not box myself up now because I don't know what I will like later. For example, right now I'm very (always have been) into R & B, hip-hop, soul, and all that. That's the vibe I want to explore. Maybe in a year, I want to explore rock. Let's see what happens and if it's cool, we'll do it. That's what I meant.
D.O.M.E: Yeah of course, humans are always changing. Change is good whether it's wanted or not. The reason I also ask is because in an interview, you mentioned that you would like to collaborate with Girl Ultra and artists alike. I'm wondering, are there any U.S-based artists you would like to collaborate with in the future?
Valeria: That's hard! There's so many that I like. Well, Mac Miller is "my love" and although he is not with us, he would have been my top choice forever. I love Willow, Will Smith's daughter. I like what she is doing. Who else? Anderson Paak. That would be a dream. It all seems so distant but anything can change. I am also a fan of Harry Styles, but I don't think I could do a duet with him because I would feel so intimidated. Ha-ha.
D.O.M.E: Yeah, shoot for the stars! Well... sometimes I like looking up the Instagram of whoever I am interviewing, to see if I find something I want to bring up. I saw a post of yours that caught my attention. It spoke about self love and being authentic to one's self. How did you come to the realization of, "I'm going to be who I am" and how do you keep that self love alive. You know, us as humans, we are hard on ourselves. It's very easy to forget. How do you manage to remind yourself and what advice do you have for people?
Valeria: This has always been a topic I have struggled with. Since I was young, I always noticed things I didn't like. I was like five and saying "I don't like this." It's a thing that's planted in us since the very beginning. It's not like, "yeah I love myself", it's a struggle, but it's something that I work on. On the other hand, I'm so exhausted of being so worried about things like how I look or people telling me I'm weird. It comes to a point where I'm like "I don't care". Nothing is going to happen, it's all a social construct. That's what I also remind myself of. I know everybody's circumstance is different, but I would suggest that one think that people's opinions don't matter and do what you want.
Loving yourself makes people also want to love you more and it's always something to have in mind.
D.O.M.E: To wrap this up, I'm going to ask you a series of rapid questions. Just tell me what first comes to mind.
Valeria: Okay. Ha-ha.
D.O.ME: Favorite book?
Valeria: Hush, hush. Ha-ha. (An honorary mention was El Lobo Estepario and she also mentioned that she was reading a lot of music related books).
D.O.M.E: Favorite movie?
Valeria: Parent Trap.
D.O.M.E: Favorite food?
Valeria: French fries.
D.O.M.E: Top three albums?
Valeria: The Divine Feminine by Mac Miller, Californication by Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Entre Todas Las Mujeres (Joaquin Sabina songs sang by women- a tribute album).
D.O.M.E: First place you want to visit after the pandemic?
Valeria: Italy, because I recently watch a Netflix documentary and it made me want to go.
*This interview has been translated. Some questions were paraphrased since they involved "Spanglish" and some small talk in between on my part.*
LANDSCAPE TANTRUMS (Unfinished Original Recordings of De-Loused In The Comatorium), a hidden treasure, is out now.
Landscape Tantrums (Unfinished Original Recordings of De-Loused In The Comatorium) is out now and it's truly a joyous occasion! There has always been so much mystique surrounding the legendary band. The mystery surrounding The Mars Volta and their music has always existed. Even growing up in El Paso, the mystery surrounding them did not lessen. I remember hearing stories about Omar and Cedric. However, the consensus was always how private, nice, and talented they were. I met them once at a signing and they were so nice.
I recall when I first heard The Mars Volta. It was in Mexico circa 2005 and my uncle shared the music he was into at the time. It was an instant connection and you bet I had their music on my iPod. I was hooked. Listening to The Mars Volta felt like a little secret that no one else (in my age group back then) knew about and it was amazing. Their music has accompanied me throughout the hardest periods of my life. Every time I go back and immerse myself in their music, I am taken back to that moment when I first "discovered" them. I feel the same way now that I am going through a hard time in my life and I am able to rediscover their music through a fresh perspective which is Landscape Tantrums (Unfinished Original Recordings of De-loused in the Comatorium).
The Mars Volta released their new box-set, La Realidad De Los Sueños, which includes re-mastered versions of: TREMULANT EP, DE-LOUSED IN THE COMATORIUM, FRANCES THE MUTE, AMPUTECHTURE, THE BEDLAM IN GOLIATH, OCTAHEDRON, NOCTOURNIQUET, plus LANDSCAPE TANTRUMS (UNFINISHED ORIGINAL RECORDINGS OF DE-LOUSED IN THE COMATORIUM), A PLAGUE UPON YOUR HISSING CHILDREN & EUNUCH PROVOCATEUR ON DOUBLE ETCHED VINYL UNRELEASED VERSIONS FROM THE DE-LOUSED IN THE COMATORIUM SESSION, HARD COVER BOOK OF EXCLUSIVE BEHIND-THE-SCENES PHOTOGRAPHY, and TWO PINS. This is every Mars Volta fan's biggest dream come true. Sadly, this incredible one-of-a-kind box-set is sold out (only 5,000 copies were released). However, I did get a chance to listen to Landscape Tantrums (which is now available on all digital platforms) and the two never before heard songs: A Plague Upon Your Hissing Children and Eunuch Provocateur. This box set is definitely a must have.
Fans and music lovers will love Landscape Tantrums (Unfinished Original Recordings of De-loused in the Comatorium). "It was created when the band recorded previous versions of the pieces that Rick Rubin later produced for DELOUSED IN THE COMATORIUM. Omar Rodríguez-López kept the master tapes of these sessions under lock and key, but now he has given them the green light for release.“It is the right time, to open these recordings up to the public”, he says. “As a work of art in its own right, this set also needs to be seen as the end of a story.”"
As mentioned, Rick Ruben produced the De-loused in the Comatorium album that everyone came to know and love. Although it's one of the most important prog-rock albums of all time, there is a quiet sensitivity and organic flow to Landscape Tantrums that can't be heard in De-loused in the Comatorium. “It is a central part of the band’s history” reports Johann Scheerer, “the recordings prove just how much this band had to share, even so soon after its founding. But they also show just how much force this music could have if you didn’t have a producer like Rick Rubin behind the mixing desk.” I agree, there is a rawness to this that shows how talented and how incredible this piece of work was even before reaching Rick. This comment is not to take away from the master that is Rick Ruben because it was “Rubin's spirit” that enabled the band to move forward the way it did.
After listening to Landscape Tantrums, it's like finally being to see the full painting when you spent your entire life only seeing part of it's magnificent colors through a paper tube. There are many standout moments and things in Landscape Tantrums. Cedric's voice comes through more in the songs. You can definitely hear some of the differences between his vocals here and in De-loused. For example, in Televators (Landscape Tantrums edition), Cedric's voice sounds soft yet powerful. A quality that almost gets lost in some De-loused songs. Fans will appreciate the subtle and not so subtle differences between the albums such as in vocal effects and sound effects. In fact, there are moments where the intstruments have more individual "time to shine". I really recommend listening to the two albums back to back to hear the differences. Johann Schreer, from Cloud Hills who worked with Omar on this said it best, "Anyone listening to these tracks will get a glimpse into that time, into Omar’s soul”. Luckily, the album is out now and this glimpse is now open to the world.
Last week I had the opportunity to have a lovely conversation with Pablo Schmal where we discussed his music, his podcast, and his hobbies. Pablo is a multi-talented musician who doesn't stick to one "box". Pablo is also someone who believes in mental heath and does not shy away from it during our conversation.
During quarantine he's kept busy by painting shoes just for fun. He was very proud of a pair of shoes he painted that were modeled after the new The Strokes album, "The New Abnormal". Not only has he tapped into his artistic endeavors during quarantine, but he continuously hosts his podcast, "Musicologia". He actually co-hosts his podcast with his therapist (www.pabloschmal.com/video). It's everything music related. I actually caught myself deep diving into it. I asked Pablo what prompted him to start a podcast, which involves interviewing fellow musicians and he stated that he started because he likes to learn the "behind the scenes" of things. He mentioned that he will sometimes be listening to a song and there will be an instrument or sound he can't recognize and it's always amazing when he has the opportunity to interview a musician and ask about it. We actually talked about this for a bit.
After we finished our discussion on podcasts, we discussed his latest work which includes his song Universo Inverso ft. Fer Casillas (video below). It's a beautiful song with an even more beautiful music video. The lyrics themselves talk about a love. A love so close yet, yet so far. A love that would have worked in a "different universe". Now the melody itself is soft and Pablo's vocal's really match the yearning in the lyrics. When Pablo talked about his process, he was so excited. Like many musicians, he doesn't have a specific approach on how to make a song. In explaining this, he mentioned that this collaboration for Universo Inverso was aided through a mutual friend who recommended Fer Casillas to him. This is such a beautiful song and the rest of Pablo's music is also that, a nice ride into his mind with a groovy melody.
To end our fantastic conversation, we went through a fast round of questions. Below are the answers to our lightning round:
1. Favorite food? Mole.
2. Favorite Book? El Arte de Pensar by Jose Carlos Ruiz.
3. Top 3 movies? Indiana Jones 2, Forrest Gump, and The Sound of Metal.
4. If you could travel anywhere, where would it be? Hong Kong.
Thank you to those reading this, check out his music! www.pabloschmal.com/music
"We are built to survive and we deal with worse things than someone leaving you."
Tanda is Alex Ferreira's latest album. It's named Tanda "not because of the meaning of the word, but for its percussive sound: two syllables that echo hands on a drum, the cha-ka of seeds shaking in a gourd, the casual slap of bare feet on the floor, or the familiar call of a name from another room in the house." Tanda presents a fusion of warm tones that feel like a warm hug. There is a fusion of many genres and many sounds that take you on a sweet journey. Alex's vocals are great as well. It's always great to feel excited about new music, especially during this time. That is exactly what this album does. The best part of this album is that any generation can enjoy it because it is timeless.
I got a chance to speak to Alex about Tanda and below is a little bit about what he had to say.
Desert of my Eye: How's quarantine hoping? You know, it's wild. We've been in this for a year. Is there anything you have picked up along the way that you didn't do before quarantine?
Alex: I'm trying to turn myself into a chef. I'm cooking a lot. That's my new thing. This situation has made us think about other things in life not just work, work, and work. So yeah, just trying to grow as a human being. I'm good. I actually got the virus. I don't have it anymore. I went through it. And yeah, can't complain.
D.O.M.E: Well, I am glad you are well! I am assuming you didn't loose smell or taste?
Alex: No, I did not.
D.O.M.E: I would hope not. You mentioned doing a lot of cooking.
Alex: Ha-ha. I was not cooking that week.
D.O.M.E: Is there a dish you mastered or really proud of?
Alex: Oh, umm, many Dominican dishes. Caribbean food. Also, things that you do in the oven. I've become an expert of the oven.
D.O.M.E: Speaking of food, we do have a lentil recipe in your album. A spoken word from your mother. Is there a reason (for that)? You know, when I think of lentils... I think of my mom's "lentejas". I think of lent and many other things. Is there a reason why you chose that recipe in particular?
Alex: Ever since I left the Dominican Republic, since very young, I've been traveling around. I lived in Spain and now I live in Mexico. I've always had this relationship with my mother where she would send me recipes. In some kind of way, food is that thing that takes you back home. In Tanda, it's a record where you've traveled a lot and have all these different influences that got into the record. It's a way getting back home. There's a lot of Dominican rhythms. Just as you can fuse food, you can fuse music. We are trying to do that (in this album). My mom, throughout all these years, has sent me recipes or how she does certain things. I usually listen to them and I think she has a really sweet voice and I thought it would be amazing to do something with this. Like put some music to these recipes. Tanda was the perfect album for that. In the last recipe she gives me, she recommends not to buy pre-made tomato sauce. She is recommending me to make my own tomato sauce. And in Tanda that is the whole thing. We are trying to make a record where everything sounds organic. It's not pre-made. You know, "refrito". And yeah it made sense to put that in there.
D.O.M.E: I think that is wonderful. You know, I even sent the Spotify link (of the album) to my mom. She loved it. It's interesting that you mentioned that you think your mom has a sweet voice, you have a sweet and calming voice. As I was listening to the album, especially the song "No Se Rompe", that songs sounds like what I imagine warmth feels like. "Heat". Was that intentional? Some fans pointed out that it was not the "oh I'm heartbroken" song and it's more like self love and "I am over this". I don't know if you could walk me through the song and explain whether that was the feeling you were going for?
Alex: That song was the hardest one to record. We went through three different versions because I was not happy with them. It started off as a calypso happy-go-lucky song and then it turned into this type of "warm song" as you describe it. I am glad you felt that because we were looking for that cause of the lyrics. The lyrics were trying to reflect the idea that in fact, the heart does not break. You know there are so many songs about heart broken things and "corazón partió" and I was trying to do the anti song of that. I was trying to say hearts don't break and time heals things and it's not bad as you think. We are built to survive and we deal with worse things than someone leaving you. At that time, we put that song out as a single because we were going through this Covid scenario and we thought that was the song in the album that reflected that sensibility and would make sense to put out. So we put that one out first.
D.O.M.E: Well that's wonderful. I love listen to a sad song and cry about it but it's also nice to listen to the other side of it. Do the lyrics come to you first or the melody or is it whatever comes first?
Alex: It depends, whatever comes. It's so hard to write a song sometimes. You have to take them how they come. If it's the lyrics, I'll take that. If it's the melody, I'll start with that. I don't have a way of doing things. When I get bored of one type of song writing, I try something else. When I get bored of the guitar, I'll grab another instrument. It changes. It's good that it does other wise you'd be writing the same song over and over.
D.O.M.E: Yeah you know this album was recorded at El Desierto (a recording studio fully known as El Desierto CasaEstudio) and it took separate sessions. Do you think the album would have been the same if it was not written during this time as compared to another time?
Alex: We finished the record in February of last year. So, we finished the record before all this went down. It has that thing, you know El Desierto has a large space where we put all the musicians together and it was recorded live in a way. The musicians were playing off each other. We were trying to capture that essence like you would record in the 60s and trying to connect with that. El Desierto has a lot of windows. A lot of light went in and I think it's a record that reflects all that sunshine we had those days. That was the process we went through.
D.O.M.E: That's wonderful. You know I've seen a lot of Latin artists that post there or record there. It looks magical. When I see pictures of there or Sonic Ranch, those places produce magical things naturally. Out of curiosity, do you have a favorite song on this album?
Alex: It's hard because they are all important. I have to say the first one has the DNA of all he record. It was one of the first songs we recorded and it set the path for the album. Hug this idea of making a Latin record with a lot of ideas and colors. You know trying to smash things together. That first song called "Como Viene Se Va" is important in that way.
D.O.M.E: I can see why you would say that about that song. It really introduces the whole thing. So my next set of questions are a bit more trivial. When I was researching you, I saw that you lived in many parts of the world. You lived in the U.S., Madrid, Mexico City. Is there a favorite place or thing you have? Or that you miss and want to do after lockdown?
Alex: I miss so many things. That's the thing, if I am in one of those places, I am missing the rest. It's mostly friends, people, food. I know El Paso and Juarez really well. I actually recorded at Sonic Ranch with Ximena Sariñana and I spent months there. I really like that part of the States and Mexico.
D.O.M.E: That makes me so happy. Speaking of inspiring places and things you miss, is there something that is inspiring you at the moment?
Alex: I always get inspired by other records, books, and movies. Right now I am actually working on another album. I can't go on tour. I can't "defend" the record as I wish to. So right now I am writing songs. It's more of another vibe (than Tanda). That's the thing about me. I have all these influences. I wish I was one of those musicians that plays one genre because that would make my life so much easier. If I were a blues guy, I'd just do blues records. I'm a blues musician and that's. my life. I have this thing where I get inspired by people like Dylan, Silvia Rodriguez of La Fania, The Stones, music in Spain, and music in South America. So I have all things I make that don't fit together and it's my job to make them fit together. Like in Tanda we had more songs. recorded, they just didn't fit this type of Latin-American song. That when you listen to the whole album, it fits. I am trying to do these other things, this other side with my song writing (on the new album). It is closer to a singer-songwriter kind of thing.
D.O.M.E: That's amazing. I am glad you are finding inspiration during this time. Another album form you is fantastic. I understand that. you are saying that if you had that one genre it would make things easier, but that is whaat makes your work very special. And of course your voice. Speaking of your voice, have you ever considered making a podcast? I feel like you would be great in a podcast.
Alex: I would love to. I think I should find time for that. Especially because I like sharing music and I like talking about it. I listen to a lot of podcasts, so yeah. That's something I could do in the future. The issue is when I get into something, I really get into it. If I start doing a podcast right now, it would affect my songwriting. I would get so into it that it would complicate things. But that is a good idea. I actually thought of doing one.
I told Alex that maybe he could reconsider the podcast idea once the new album is finished. He asked me what the podcast would be about and we threw around some ideas. After we discussed the podcast, I asked if there was something that he wanted to talk about. Alex brought up the fact that Tanda is available on vinyl (www.alexferreira.com). It's a limited-edition colored vinyl. The best news is that there is international shipping!
I'm excited to write this post! Not only because I Iove Fobia's music, but also due to the fact that I recently watched the Break it All: The History of Rock in Latin America documentary on Netflix. You can't talk about rock in Latin America without mentioning Fobia in the 90's. In fact, Leonardo (lead vocalist of Fobia) actually makes a few cameos in it!
Doing an MTV Unplugged is an honor for many reasons. Amazing bands like Maná, Café Tacvba, La Ley, Zoé and many more have graced the "Unplugged stage". The best part of the Unplugged is that it gives bands an opportunity to present their music in a fresh and acoustic manner.
Fobia is an iconic Mexican band whose career spans over thirty years. It's made up of Paco Huidobro, Jay de la Cueva, Leonardo de Loza, Iñaki, and CHA!. Songs featured in the set list include: "El Microbito", "Hipnotízame", and "2 corazones". Fobia's MTV Unplugged was recorded at the Frontón in México City. As one would expect with an Unplugged recording, Fobia takes us on a journey through their musical trajectory with a new, laid back, and modern take on their best songs.
The set starts with Pesadilla. A great song whose lyrics, in part, say "Esta mañana tuve un sueño. En que salvaba al mundo. Esta mañana tuve un sueño. En que podía volar." Immediately capturing one's attention (besides the lyrics) is Leonardo's vocals, which have not aged a bit. They sound strong yet soft and mature. The band definitely still has their spark!
The Unplugged then goes into another Fobia classic "Hoy Tengo Miedo". This song and Microbito (last track) were my favorite growing up. That being said, I very much enjoyed these stripped down versions. They keep the essence and "energy" of the original. That can also be said of the other songs.
This whole MTV Unplugged is fantastic! The piano and acoustic guitar are indeed a main feature throughout. Yet it's the synths and "magical" sounds heard either at the beginning, middle, or end of the songs that makes this experience so cohesive in sound and "vibe". It's sweet and addictive and you want to keep listening over and over again.
Overall this Unplugged is a whimsical journey through Fobia's repertoire of hits. It's a fresh take on Fobia's classics. It's something new to listen to. It's an escape to a private concert in a time where concerts can't take place.
Fobia's MTV Unplugged tracklist:
2. Hoy Tengo Miedo
3. 200 Sábados
4. Mi Pequeño Corazón
5. No Soy Un Buen Perdedor
6. Caminitos Hacia El Cosmos
7. 2 Corazones
10. Veneno Vil
11. El Diablo
12. No Eres Yo
13. El Microbito
Available on all music streaming services!
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Interviews and playlists of local bands and international artists.