This Wednesday, February 21st, Money Chicha and Dos Santos will preform at the Lowbrow Palace as part of their Southwest tour in support of the release of their 7" vinyl "Summit Sessions". As the title suggests, this is the 4th Chicha Summit. However, this is the first one taking place across the Southwest. I recently had the opportunity to talk to Alex from Dos Santos and Greg from Money Chicha about the bands and the Chicha Summit and what it means to them. The following will be split in two parts, one being with Alex of Dos Santos and the other with Greg of Money Chicha and each part relating to their bands and what they had to say.
Dos Santos is a band based in Chicago and they fuse psychedelia, cumbia, Afro-Caribbean Salsa alongside many other genres. Dos Santos is made up of: Alex Chavez, Peter Vale, Daniel Villareal-Carillo, Jaime Garza, and Nathan Karagianis. The band was formed in 2013 and since then they have played around the U.S., including festivals like SXSW and Pachanga Latino Music Festival.
I started off by asking Alex how the collaboration between Dos Santos and Money Chicha came about. He mentioned that he had known the central members of Grupo Fantasma, which make up Money Chicha, for a long time. "We are similar in sound and Money Chicha is more instrumental while Dos Santos is half vocals and half instrumental." Alex said that the collaboration only made sense. "We are like-minded folk."
With that being said I asked Alex where Dos Santos gets it's musical influence from to which he answered that their influences come due to the band members different backgrounds. "Our trumpeter is from Puerto Rico so he brings that Salsa influence. Our drummer is from Panama and he is fan of all types of music like: cumbia, tamborito, and calypso rhythm which anticipates reggeaton. He is just an audiophile. Our guitarist is from Chicago and he is actually Anglo-Greek and he is from a jazz background. Our bassist is transnational. He is from San Luis Potosi but lives in Chicago. His influences include Jazz, Mexican folk and even Puerto-Rican Salsa. I'm originally from Texas. I grew up with border cumbia, Xavier Passos, and Tex-Mex. Not only that, but my father played music for a long time. He was playing musica grupera in the 80s and he also grew up with cumbias." Alex and the his band members have a broad number of influences. I like how Alex mentioned each band membe's influences due to their background rather than list bands.
Last but not least, I asked Alex what he hopes people will take from this Chicha Summit. After a short pause, Alex said that people are each going to take things differently. There is a new musical movement going on. "We are both bands and we don't do electronic music so that in itself is a whole new experience. It's an onda. We recorded a 7" split and for me there is a notion of musical camaraderie. We record together but we display this fellowship as well. "
In this next part of the interview I talked to Greg of Money Chicha. Money Chicha is a band from Austin, Texas and it's an offshoot of the Grammy-award winning Grupo Fantasma. Money Chicha is also an offshoot of the band Brownout. Greg said that Money Chicha has been around for seven years and added that, "our other bands are larger and we wanted to do something smaller. The idea was to start a small band and play Chicha music. We discovered Chicha through a compilation that came out a decade ago. It has Latin rhythms with psychedelia. Chicha speaks to the Andean people." Not only does it speak to the Andean people, but it spoke to them as well.
The band is heavily influenced by "the sound of Peru and Colombia in the 60s and 70s", which is evident when you hear the band. Greg added that, "we respect and acknowledge that sound but we tweaked it (Chicha) and made it our own sound." He continued and gave me a little history on the word Chicha. He said, "Chicha began as something and it turned into something else." Greg also mentioned that Chicha means moonshine in Peruvian and it was an indigenous fermented drink made from corn. He said that the drink was far from good, but the people drank it anyways. They did it within their communities.
If there is something I can take away from this interview is that these bands hope people can appreciate the music they make. They are very talented individuals and they clearly know where they come from and where the music they play comes from. I hope everyone can go check them out at the Lowbrow Palace tomorrow. It is a must!
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Interviews and playlists of local bands and international artists.