Friday, April 30, 2010

La Mala Rodriguez - No Pidas Perdon

After a short hiatus, la Mala Rodriguez returns to the scene with the first single from her latest album, Dirty Bailarina, "No Pidas Perdon." The video itself is quite the trip, filled with gasoline-drenched dead bodies, stolen briefcases, and alien hideouts (and a Shareef Abdur-Rahim Kings jersey?! WHOA), not to mention la Mala's tilted-beehive sporting assassin rocking the hell out of that KISS shirt. But it's the song that's the prize here, with a cheeky double-tracked chorus, and a beat that sounds eerily similar to the first few seconds of "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)," not to mention the sort of flow and lyrical dexterity that we've come to appreciate from la Mala. If the whole record sounds like this, we've got a winner on our hands.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Summer Songs For Winter People, Yamamoto

Summer Songs For Winter People, Yamamoto
The Poni Republic, Mexico
Rating: 60

By Jean-Stephane Beriot


After a ridiculously long time without any releases, The Poni Republic is back with the Summer Songs For Winter People, the comeback of Tijuana duo Yamamoto. They happen to be the first artist to get publishing through the netlabel and after five years of preparation, Mario Supereit and Brenda J are back with a new set of whimsy songs. The album doesn’t lack any personality per say, but I’m afraid it’s hardly distinctive at any level. The charm is certainly there, the concept is blurry but [perhaps] on the right hands. And the songs… well, they’re quite random, unfortunately not random on their sound but on their quality.

It’s not like I’m applying Matias Aguayo’s call of “no me gusta minimal”, it’s just that Yamamoto, like so many other bands out there are adding on to a misguided concept of lo-fi where to be cute means to create delicate (usually boneless) songs. Their debut EP was certainly an adorable surprise, and the band still holds much of that cuteness, but also the same limitations. That notion of desperation in songs like “Sound Asleep” or “Life Like Math” shows the fixation to work around the complexity of folk with minimal intervention from the band itself.

Technically Summer Songs For Winter People is an outstanding piece, its content (or lack of content) is the problem here. I confess I’m forcing myself to like this; the surface is adorable but also empty and quite boring, yet I'm willing to recommend it because there's just too much charm here to waste. When I decided to dig deeper into the lyrics, to perhaps, resolve the longing music, only to find weak and inexpressive refills. This is the opposite of say, something whimsical but dazzling as Balun’s Memoria Textil. “Race Car” would be an exception, if only because it justifies its nominal existence.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Video: Triángulo de Amor Bizarro - De la monarquía a la criptocracia


We already took care of buzzing this Triángulo de Amor Bizarro's "De la monarquía a la criptocracia" as the best single of the year so far, now there’s a wonderful video for it. The wacky video was helmed by the great Luis Cervero, Club Fonograma’s favorite current music video director, responsible for braining La Bien Querida’s “9.6” and Joe Crepusculo’s “Siento Que Muero.” For some reason, we’re getting the vibe many of you are not catching up to the news, so let’s restate it, Triangulo de Amor Bizarro, the most critically acclaimed breakthrough band since Los Planetas is publishing its sophomore album! This is a nice clip, the band has always maintained distance from its videos, with makeup and such, so it’s great to see the great Isa confronting the camera. It aims to be scary through heavy symbolism and ritual. Año Santo will be out next week through Mushroom Pillow.

Cardio, Miguel Bosé

Cardio, Miguel Bosé
Wea International, Spain

Rating: 59
By Carlos Reyes


Before entering Cardio’s barbed and wired content, let me emphasize that I’m a huge fan of its album cover, meaning that I love Miguel Bosé’s persona unconditionally. Whether for Bose’s foiled attempts to sound ‘serious’, or his consummation to serve his aesthetics as both, a gentlemen and diva, the dude is insanely exciting, attractive, vulnerable, irreverent, and if you’ve heard Velvetina or Sereno, one could find enough ground to justify his image of Latin Pop icon. Not to mention Bose is responsible for writing the ostentatious and utterly brilliant “Mexico” by Timbiriche.

Despite all the charm, elegancy and recurrent muscularity, his latest album narrows down to squeezing pieces that couldn’t be any less displaced with their own musicality. It’s not that the album is lifeless or that Bosé is less devoted, Cardio is simply pointed to the wrong direction and unfortunately, Bosé doesn’t give us too much meat to give it a sense. First track and promotional single “Estuve a punto de” is about that eternal desire to take risk, something about him singing “I was this close” gives the track a kind of four-wall effect (the same way “Morena Mia” is wonderfully structured). Sadly, the whole album seems to learn from the single, they’re all on the edge of being good or complete disasters.

In “Jurame”, Miguel Bose is almost unrecognizable. His deep well-dressed voice gets rowdy and this is probably the closest we’ll ever see Miguel Bose rapping. The title track is also interesting; it’s so upbeat one would swear he’s been listening to La Casa Azul. The rest of the album is quite lousy, unforgivingly preoccupied with minor-key traits that instead of embracing their silence, feel empty. There are exceptions like the closing “Y Poco Mas” and “Eso No”, which are strangely erotic but yet forgettable. Cardio is probably one of Bosé’s weakest albums, with “Estuve a punto de” profiling as one of his career-best singles, and yet I still think the man rocks. I’ll trade you Bunbury for Miguel Bosé anytime. Am I arguing that his music is better than that of Bunbury? Yes, and better than most Latin rock dinosaurs out there.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Subiza, Delorean



Subiza, Delorean

True Panther, Spain

Rating: 80

by Andrew Casillas

First things first: What do we make of Delorean? Are they the sunnier form of the “chillwave/glo-fi/tapecore” movement? Are they basically a Scandinavian blisscore techno act in Xavi kits? Are they really just a rock band with house accents? In reality, they’re obviously a mix of all three propositions. They share the same passion for effects processing and shoegaze affinity as your Washed Outs and Neon Indians, the same sunny exterior and dreamlike harmonies of the Tough Alliance and Air France (who is perhaps their easiest single comparison), and it certainly wouldn’t be a stretch to accuse these guys of owning a Booka Shade 12” or two. What sets this up-and-coming Spanish band apart is how they choose to blend all of these elements together: as equals, something that’s readily noticeable upon first listen to Subiza.

Take the opener, “Stay Close,” for example. Lyrically, this is a song about long-distance romance transitioning into melancholy, but musically (and thematically), the vocals, samples, and effects are weaved to the point where the melody becomes no more prevalent than any other instrument, as if you were listening in to someone’s fantasy. The beat thumps, but doesn’t rock the house, and the whole thing threatens to burst into a million colors all over your ceiling. It’s a bit frantic actually, which seems to distinguish it from chillwave tropes, but not so much that you would be a fool to want to play this on a sunny, cloudless day. It’s also the best song on the album.

This is followed by “Real Love,” which retains a bit of the programming virtuosity of the above-mentioned Tough Alliance, but with a light shoegaze haze. Indeed, there’s a quiet bit about halfway through the track, where the soundscapes slowly descend into a blur before the keyboard effects erupt all over again. Aside from sounding really, really cool, it shows a density and cohesiveness that shows the band’s growth from Ayrton Senna.

From this point, the album gets less poppy, but no less interesting. “Endless Sun” showcases the band’s 90’s house influences, and the Burial-like “vocals” on “Grow” provide a neat contrast with the track’s overall sunny exterior. The 1-2 punch of “Simple Graces” and “Infinite Deserts” may be the album’s high point. Changing the tone of the album, these cuts are less focused on the beach, and more towards reality. Indeed, the Avey Tare-ness of the vocals make “Simple Graces” sparkle; everything about the song sounds like a diversion, right down to the drumbeat at the very end. “Infinite Desert” begins with the seemingly innocuous chant of “Would you like to start a riot?” before exploding into slices of color—the fact that Delorean does this so easily is what stands out most.

This isn’t exactly a perfect album: there are moments when the lyrics are trying to sound poignant, but end up falling flat; not all of the “hooks” are strong, etc. Some may also say that this suffers from not having a song as immediate or memorable as “Seasun,” one that just begs placement on your end of year singles ballot, but this plays much better as an album as their previous EP would have led someone to anticipate. Delorean also does a find job refining and showcasing their strengths: their harmonies, sense of musical knowledge, and dynamism. 2010 is already shaping up to be a remarkable year for electronic music, and while Subiza may not really be in the running for “techno album of the year,” it’s still pretty damn good.


Vive Latino 2010



by Juan Manuel Torreblanca
Pictures by Dorian Ulises López Macías

Last year I wrote a rather epic account of my Vive Latino experience as just one spectator drifting in the sea of thousands. This year was bound to be different from the start. So is my tale.

I remember fondly my melancholic subway journeys to and from the Foro Sol last year. Elliot Smith in my ears then. This time it was Joanna Newsom and her Have One on Me (plus some bits of Orlando’s to-be-released Capullo). Heartwarming loneliness is the perfect water to baptize oneself as preparation for the intense adventure of the Vive Latino.

I missed Dr. Frankenstein on Friday regrettably ‘cause I had to play piano at a dance show at the Carlos Chavez hall deep in the heart of my beloved UNAM’s Centro Cultural Universitario (but that’s another story), so my chronicles will only touch the main two days of the Vive: Saturday and Sunday. I will say, though, that I was dying to hear Iraida Noriega (one of Mexico’s best singers) take on such a role and challenge, amongst a stellar cast, but there will be another chance.

So, Saturday I was invited to play one song as a guest with La Banderville, they were to take the Blue Stage for 20 mintes at 13:45. Their manager Wakks handled all the necessary information (aided by several of the band members) always with sufficient time and courtesy. So it was a pleasure to be part of their exciting Vive debut, as much as it was something born out of friendship and mutual admiration. I had been invited to play accordion when they recorded A la Distancia for their Seminuevo de Manzana album, and this would be my second time playing it with them live.

I got to the accorded gate at 11:05 (five minutes late) and waited a while with our gathering belated crew for our entrance to be granted. Engineers, dancers. Known and unknown faces, all friendly and glad to be there. The band was already in, extremely on time. After a while a couple of the beautiful girls accompanying the band came out for us and we joined them at the dressing-room. A cloudy and humid morning had turned into a sunny, bright day. And everything seemed extremely well organized and clean backstage. I was told that as time went by it became a bit more messy, but I saw nothing to complain about!

When I bumped into Daniel, La Banderville’s leader and frontman, I didn’t recognize him for a split-second. He was estrenando a mohawk hair-do: totally shaved head on the sides! It looked cool and tough, proper attire for a Vive Latino first time.

Handshakes with the rest of the band. Everyone looked like it was their birthday and the best party EVER dreamed of (forever dreamed of) was about to take place. The girls (Sofía and Ana) really get to my heart every time because they tend to look and get so nervous and so humbled by everything that’s happening to them right now. Sofia told me as we were relaxing in the dressing-room before everything got started: “I never, ever, in my wildest dreams… not even when I took up the bass… I never thought this would happen to me”… call me crazy but that made me feel no-one deserved a place on a Vive Latino stage that day more than them. La Banderville. They’ve worked so hard and so much and so long. Their songs are finally travelling the airwaves bringing smiles into lots of hearts. People are falling in love with their retro, psychedelic, sunny, folky, rock-pop songs, and they –the band– are finding their way into the soundtrack of youth for a new generation. So it was time for them to have a shot at the Vive Latino: Latin America’s biggest and most important music festival, probably.

Time to grace the stage was approaching, Joselo (yes, from Café Tacvba) got to the dressing-room and we gave our song a couple of runs. I didn’t allow myself much thought on the surreal event of me sharing a guest spot with Joselo (from Café Tacvuba for goodness sakes!) on stage, ‘cause I don’t quite get how or why or if I deserve… that happening! But let’s blame the Banderville kids for that one! And I must thank YouTube for making it possible for me to practice my accordion parts prior to that last-minute go. I have a fish-brain and I had of course forgotten it. But we played it fine and smooth and I was feeling ready to rock! Or was it the energy drink?

So, anyway, the guys rushed into their costumes. Fantastic 20’s inspired swimwear! horizontal black and white or red and white lines! The first band, Monte Negro, was almost done. Pictures were taken. Warm-up exercises began. Jumping, stretching arms, vocal warmups. Screaming a bit, why not? I line-checked the accordion just to make sure it would sound and then we were all ready to go!

La Banderville had an awesome intro prepared, mocking the intro for the classic TV show The Wonder Years. The music and a narrator’s voice introducing each one of the band members. Then, they immediately dove in. Four dancers were dressed in huge cardboard boxes with sea creatures drawn in a Japanese child-like fashion over them. It was really nice! They started dancing.

So, there I am on-stage, by the engineers. The initial crowd must have been a hundred people at most. But from the first song people rushed to the stage from a far. And I feel I must make it clear: I’m talking about hundreds and hundreds of people running to the stage. I was both outrageously happy for my friends and outrageously nervous for myself! I mean: I have to begin the song I’m invited to play solo, I was fearing a mistake in front of hundreds and hundreds of rabid Vive Latino fans. I fantasized about getting smacked on the face with a glass full of beer (hopefully) or pieces of the carpet or coins or whatever. The first guest to join the band onstage was Enjambre’s Javier Mejía and he played the gorgeous Super Pasto with them and Mandarina too. I was so happy because people kept arriving at massive proportions. It was soon a crowd of –at least– a thousand and a half. I danced, jumped, clapped, laughed, talked about it with Wakks, their manager and all the Banderville staff. And then it was my turn. I was introduced. The crowd gave me a generous applause and I felt welcome. I took my spot and looked at the guys, they were beaming. Joselo was introduced to a raving crowd, of course, and he soon got the guitar ready. Cachi (from the drums) gave me a sign for me to begin whenever I felt it. And so I did. Boy… it is hard to describe how this feels. The connection. Between the people onstage. The people in the crowd. The song binding us all together. It was a trip. I felt the train gain more and more power. I felt the joy in the people. I felt the joy myself. I danced. I played. I wasn’t afraid of mistakes. I felt I was the luckiest man on Earth to be able to share that special moment with my friends. And I truly enjoyed my performance, the chance to do it, and the room the song gave me (as the limited accordion player I am) to add some brightness to it!

I am forever grateful to La Banderville for that moment and I truly wish them many many years of success, because I believe they deserve it!

After that and after the show they went (triumphant as they were) to deal with the press. I spent some happy celebration time with the staff and friends at the dressing-room (huge sighs of relief all over) and then took off to catch a couple of gigs before I had to run to rehearse at Julieta’s.

Muna Zul and Klezmerson I caught bits of at my favorite Vive Latino spot: la carpa Intolerante. They were magical. Then I ran to make it to Francisca Valenzuela’s gig at the Red Stage, I had never seen her with a full band. Sound was crappy (as expected, I must confess), not her fault. She looked royal and miles tall and her voice was powerful and precise (even as low as they had her in the mix). Café Tacvba was represented (as non-official godfathers of this Vive apparently) here as well with performances by Meme and Quique (I love his bass sound so much)! It was a good show and then I got just the first taste of Le Butcherettes. I must say I admire that girl’s commanding presence and personality.

Rehearsal at Julieta’s was delightful. All the children of the choir sounded ready. The mood was relaxed and excited. It’s almost embarrassing to write, but honouring my teenage years and how much Julieta’s music meant to me then. It was more important than I can express, to be there, the opportunity, the surreal joy of being able to share my music with her and to share her music if even for just a moment… like that. I couldn’t wait for Sunday.

Sunday I wanted to get to the Vive real early and I didn’t want to miss Emilio Rodríguez (this child prodigy of the drums), Juan Pablo Villa (the best male Mexican singer bar none), Ventilader & Vicente Gayo (I’m DYING to see them live, BAD)… but, alas, as a guest to the main stage I didn’t own a ticket, I tried several times to contact Julieta’s production to ask if I could get my bracelet in advance so I could get there early but they never responded, so… I had to get there with Julieta’s production, when they got there, and that was around 3 o-clock. A tiny bummer, but that wasn’t all. Sadly, I must bring this up only because it’s a funny contrast with the first day. The first lovely experience. I couldn’t believe how a new band, managed by a young and less experienced staff (I’m talking about La Banderville) managed to treat all their guests so carefully, not as V.I.P.s or any of that snobby shit I don’t care about, but just as really important people, everyone. What I mean is: if you’re not important to the production, then they should say so, they shouldn’t invite you nor have you there. What’s the point? And please keep in mind. This is in NO way whatsoever directed towards Julieta who was nothing but sweetness and generousity, braveness and talent and openness… but, rather, towards some of the people in charge of her production who were hypocritically sorry to be rude to us but pretty much couldn’t care less. I know it’s a stressful situation. I know there are thousands of people to handle all the time. But shouln’t the real pros be better at it than the freshmen? I dunno.

What I’m talking about is this: we (the choir guests) were left stranded behind the stage, on the floor, underneath the sun, no place for us, not able to go in to the dressing room. And the only problem was, we had to wait there for the show to begin, under the hard sun, and today it was SCORCHING. And, did I mention the sun? All I’m saying is: La Banderville’s production managed to give us all: musicians, dancers, guests, all, the proper passes to a seat and a roof to wait. And Julieta Venegas’ production gave us half-hearted apologies and that’s that. It beats me. But I don’t want to sound sour nor ungrateful. I am fully aware of how it is and was a HUGE opportunity and adventure and moment and I am lucky and thankful and I wanted to give my best. So I was there, patiently, soaking up the sun (hello headache). And said nothing to Julieta, because I wanted to be the last one to spoil a second of it for her. I didn’t want to trouble her or stress her before her performance. But I kept it in, and I knew I was going to have to bring it out eventually. So here it is. I waited and waited. Until it was time for me to get changed into my costume and to join the rest of the choir. Now. I don’t really mind changing in front of everyone but I believe that it might make some people uncomfortable (or get me into trouble) so I approached the dressing room area and begged for a while until someone saw me and mercifully talked the security guy into letting me in for just a moment. And then I got ready.

I bumped into Ceci Bastida and asked if she had her soon-to-be-released CD with her, only because I can’t wait to hear it! She looked gorgeous and sexy as always and she said no. I was happy and able to give her a copy of Torreblanca’s EP, though.

I was terribly excited to see my friend Marian Ruzzi perform live with Julieta, I hadn’t been able to yet. She looked so big (as in brilliant and mature) and pretty and talented there! I was happy and proud.

The crowd was BIG! we’re talking about the main stage, and a full field of tens of thousands. But it was a heavy show, because some genius placed Julieta just before Panteón Rococó and obviously they share their fanbase absolutely… not. So the response was very divided.

Julieta performed like a warrior. Like a lioness ready to fight back hostility with love. And I was a bit saddened to see parts of the crowd react so poorly towards tenderness or vulnerability. Why is it so scary? Why is it so offensive to them? Why do they find sweetness so disgusting? Is it youth? Is it the political situation? Education? Is it just a matter of the Vive Latino maybe not being the best environment for someone like Julieta anymore? I don’t know…

Some technical problems made Julieta’s gig begin a little bit late, that rushed and stressed everyone, of course. That’s the downside to festivals! So when the choir’s moment came, they had forgotten to open up a space for us there, it had to be improvised, we had no microphones so Juan Martín (accordion, clarinet, flute, etc.) helped produce a couple of last-second mics (one for Carla Morrison and the other one for all the rest of us) and off we went into Revolución, a new song off Otra Cosa. The people’s response to the choir felt so strange, so mixed… I didn’t feel welcome as I had felt the day before. I really, really tried and just… gave myself to the melody.

When the bridge came we didn’t sing, that’s the way it worked, & I had worried that all that time doing nothing could make the choir look funny, frozen or it could make the kids nervous, so (during rehearsals) I came up with this idea of making flags, flags for us to raise in an innocently revolutionary way, flags depicting hearts… is there a better symbol for love? I don’t think so. And the song is a love-song after all, and, in that moment, it says:

vamos a incendiar al mundo con la convicción

de que sólo el amor puede hacernos mejor

mientras todo a nuestro alrededor se deshace

la fe en tu sonrisa me levantará, me levantará

So, regardless of the romantic aspects of the song, I connected to the fiery expression of a desperate need for love. The world is suffering and hurt by tragedies and wars of all kinds all over right now. We do need love. Period. We need to stick together and help each other. We need to fight fear and distrust with LOVE. I do believe that. I’m not perfect and I’m not always giving pure love, I’m no one to preach, I’m just human. But that topic is important. It’s neither easy nor corny to me. And translated to something visual, I really felt that the element of LOVE FLAGS would add something to the song. Well, the audience didn’t seem to agree with my idea. It was such a confusing and bittersweet moment! I held my big flag up, I told myself: don’t be ashamed! The girls looked so strong and beautiful holding their flags too! So… If we are trying to give out a message of love and it’s rejected, well, what else can we do!? A friend told me afterwards it looked a bit kindergarten-y and I doubted my idea, I thought “maybe it was a mistake” but… oh well… I saw it in pictures just a couple of minutes ago and I didn’t feel it looked that wrong. Lido Pimienta saw the pictures too and she told me: I don’t find it to be corny; I think that the way the hearts are painted says more than “I love you”, it says “my heart is in pieces… but I am trying to put them back together”.

I am too. But it’s scary when a huge crowd makes you feel like you should be ashamed to show people that you have a heart. It makes me feel like the Tin-Man in The Wizard of Oz.

So, anyway… the show ended and I said my goodbyes quickly, changed back into my normal guy’s clothes and took off to see Yann Tiersen at Mexico City’s Teatro de la Ciudad, but that’s another story too…

My final experience concerning 2010’s Vive Latino was a little bipolar. From the huge happiness of watching my friends get their first taste on a bigger success, to the more solemn and mindblowing opportunity and adventure of sharing a giant stage with one of my favorite artists ever… at this special time in her life when she’s expecting and entering a more mature stage in her life… a stage that might not be so compatible with the rabid, frantic, ska-loving, violent, young, young, young and restless stages of the Vive Latino.

I am left immensely thankful and… just… full… like after a dense, dense master-class. I have a lot to digest still… I feel older.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Antonio Jiménez and Lido Pimienta son Los Espíritus



This is very romantic; Antonio Jimenez (María y José) and Lido Pimienta are teaming up to create the new duo Los Espíritus. Yes, our staff is drooling; after all, these are the two people responsible for crafting our two favorite albums of the year so far, Espiritu Invisible and Color EP. Last year, Antonio ‘discovered’ Lido Pimienta’s MySpace and introduced her to this new flaming window of Latin Pop. Needless to say they have become siblings, supporting each other unconditionally and now, collaborating together. And yet, they have not met each other personally. Los Espíritus has been giving life through Skype sessions, chat scripts and their collective, almost telepathically driven musical vision.

Lido and Antonio will meet in a couple of weeks, as she will travel to the always-mystical land of Tijuana. I can’t even imagine the kind of emotional ride that would be, but I’ll bet there would be a magical scene of colorful triangles connecting both personas and sanctifying Los Espíritus. Their EP will be titled Aprendiendo a Amar Con Los Espíritus, out in a couple of months. The first cut is titled “Pacifico-Atlantico” and has been taking over our iPods for a couple of months; it’s the most numinous Reggaeton track ever. The song reminds me of some of the late 90s Reggaeton coming out of Central America, very adolescent and innocent on its lyrics, and kind of sweaty on its unsettlingly pubescent beats.

“Sabes bien que no le gusta a mi mama, yo se bien que no le gusta a tu papa, no les gusta porque tenemos el mismo sexo.” The haunting song is kind of an extension of Selena’s “Amor Prohibido”, but defending same-sex love by swimming the oceans. The plan is to release a couple of volumes following love’s distressing phases, we can’t wait to hear all of them.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Indie-O Fest 2010



Pictures by Dorian Lopez

These days, getting anywhere on time is heroic in this city, at least for me. And I must say I wasn’t a hero the night of the Indie-O Fest nor am I a hero in delivering this brief would-be-chronicle… a couple of days after. Not the early bird, no. Fired from the paperboys team, you bet. But… better late than never, my aunt would say.

So let’s keep the aunt’s view near for a while. Anyway. The sixth Indie-O Fest brought a very delectable selection of fresh bands to Mexico City this week. I’ve seen this Festival grow from its debut at the city’s Hard Rock Live in 2005 and it’s been doing it the right way: step by step, yet always with vision, ambition, good taste and heart.

The first-class independent world finds a way to play for Mexican audiences thanks to these guys’ efforts and many interesting independent Mexican bands get a chance to share the stage with the likes of: The Secret Machines, Broken Social Scene or The National.

This year’s lineup was pretty tasty: Deerhunter, The Big Pink, Little Dragon, Marnie Stern and the local natives… no, not the band… um, let me rephrase this, and the Mexican bands: Bam Bam, Los Amparito and Corazón Attack. 

Last minute problems with the camera and monster traffic made it impossible for us to make it on time for the Mexicans, so we only got to see and hear things from Marnie Stern on. 

I must say that the first thing deserving huge praise is the place itself. At least, aesthetically. The circular Siqueiros mural inside is mindblowing. It gives everything a very mystical feel. The sound is a bit problematic, though. It was pretty LOUD that night too. That very detail made it a bit hard for me to enjoy Marnie. So we (Dorian, the photographer and me) went outside to breathe and forget the traffic some more as we drank something refreshing. 

We got back in just in time for Little Dragon and it took me about 30 seconds to fall in love. Yukimi has one of those personalities that can fill the place with just her charisma. But she’s properly backed by a solid band, solid arrangements and songs. So the experience is more than satisfying. They made sure everything was in order before beginning, themselves, and it paid off, theirs was the gig that sounded best. Yukimi’s eyes, her smile and her voice got to my heart as she danced. As they made us all dance and sing along and scream our hearts out. Little Dragon truly lit up the place, owned the night, and for a memorable encore they gave us a heartfelt rendition of Twice which I enjoyed to the last note. 

I confess I knew pretty much nothing about The Big Pink before, but I was positively impressed. They bring a peculiar mix to the table. They look as if it were going to be extremely punk with a drop of metal. And they do add a bit of noise here and there. But there’s something rather pop about them as well. They bring Nine Inch Nails to mind through their looks but the music had me thinking more about stuff like The Stone Roses. Interesting and powerful. At first I didn’t understand the mix of live drums and commanding beat programming. I didn’t feel they played well together. The drummer was also apparently singing a lot, and we never heard her voice. Eventually, though, the beats sunk in and I didn’t feel as weirded-out as I did at first. I liked them. Loud too… but good. 

So, remember I’m no hero, O.K. The thing is Deerhunter came out late, and I had to get up REAL early the next morning and sing that night. So I was a bit beat by then. The sound was even LOUDER and our camera’s battery was dead. I got to hear half their set and it went from a rough NOISE start to an increasingly better and better progression… I was left with a big curiosity to see them again. Hopefully that’s what this Festival leaves people with, regarding all the bands… It would be better if they could manage to throw the party closer to (if not ON) the weekend! But no serious complains here, and I fell in love (with Little Dragon) so I left happy.

I also got to talk a bit with Carlos Pesina (Pepepe) from Los Amparito and I enjoyed that a lot! We chatted about the RedBullMusicAcademy experience and being nominated for the same award at the Indie-O Music Awards. We gave each other the evil eye for a split second but it was all friendly after that.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Featured: Hello Seahorse! - "Volando Me Voy" (PEACE)



Feature: Hello Seahorse! - "Volando Me Voy"

PEACE Compilation, Mexico


“PEACE, the first music atlas in the net, coproduced by Buffetlibre and Amnesty International Catalunya. Just make your donation and download the full mp3 compilation, with 180 exclusive new songs by artists from more than 50 countries. The collected money will be used for AI’s investigation and action campaigns aimed at preventing cases of Human Rights abuses around the world.”

This is an awesome project that has been in the works for many months now, while the songs themselves might not be exclusively written for PEACE, there’s so much quality here no one would be able to refer to them as leftovers. When the non-profit organization reached out to us, they gave us the freedom to choose a song for us to share with you. And it was a hard task, and although there’s some great songs in there by Mexican Institute of Sound, Francisca Valenzuela, Entre Rios and Club Fonograma forever-approved Javiera Mena and Triangulo de Amor Bizarro. At he end we just couldn't resist the marvelous “Volando Me Voy” by Hello Seahorse!

Listening to “Volando Me Voy” is like discovering a whole new layer of Hello Seahorse!, equally transcendent to something as “Universo 2” but with a feverous pulse to it. The band is currently working on a new album to follow their internationally acclaimed Bestia. Coming from someone who went through the entire 180 songs I can pretty much say this compilation transcends its good intentions and becomes an essential collection of global pop. Listen to all the songs and buy the PEACE compilation HERE.

1977, Anita Tijoux

1977, Anita Tijoux
Nacional Records, Chile
Rating: 64
by Andrew Casillas

I’ll be honest: I just don’t listen to a whole lot of rap music these days. I have nothing against the genre: four of my top ten favorite albums on my Stylus Decade ballot were rap/hip-hop records. And there’s some genuinely interesting stuff that pops up from time-to-time on great hip-hop blogs like the Passion of the Weiss, and even our dear Editor posts some novel Latin rap on occasion. But again, for the most part, the pure amount of time per week that I spend listening to rap music probably amounts to no more time than the length of an average St. Louis Cardinals game (by the way, have you seen Albert Pujols this season? Good Christ.). But I’m not here to waste any more of your time discussing my listening habits, or to extrapolate these changes into a dissection of the “State of Hip-Hop.” No, we’re here to discuss the latest album from Anita Tijoux.

Tijoux’s back-story is pretty familiar and kind of interesting actually. Daughter of a French national and Chilean ex-pat, who was in exile during the Pinochet coup d’état, who then returned to Chile upon the dictator’s supplanting, where she then discovered rap music as a teenager, subsequently devoting her life to honing her craft through her association with various South American hip-hop groups, finally breaking into a solo career around 2006, which was also the year that she received her biggest boost in publicity by guest-rapping on Julieta Venegas’ mega-successful single “Eres Para Mí.”

Her debut album, Kaos, was a mild success, but ultimately got lost in the scene. Her latest is titled 1977, which is also the year of her birth, and as such a title would seem to allude to, it’s a very personal record. Within the record are stories about death, family, conflicts, and writer’s block, and some of these topics are finely detailed and enlightening. But musically, it’s a bit stunted. Take the album’s intro, which basically sounds like a whole rip of a Thievery Corporation interlude—sounds great when you’re ordering a Rob Roy in a cigar bar, but not when you’re trying to pump up your audience for a personality-driven rap record. 1977 occasionally falls back into these faux-cosmopolitan traps, where sleek MOR keyboards, dim drum machines, and light guitar licks attempt to punctuate some sort of beat but really just take away from Tijoux’s genuinely appealing flow. Such an approach can work on a Pacha Massive record, where the vocals are not entirely essential, but Tijoux is too good to be buried in what’s essentially the aural equivalent of strawberry cocktail mix.

There are certainly some bright moments to be had on this album, however. “Partir de Cero” has a catchy mechanized sample, and Tijoux’s wordplay is in great form, and doesn’t even lose much paunch when the guitar lick becomes pronounced and the inevitable record scratching starts to envelop the track. “Crisis de un MC” has a sleek little beat, and captures the effortless, easygoing style that artists like la Mala Rodriguez do so well, and I’m sure that Tijoux was attempting to recreate on 1977. And “Oulala” has a few genuine jazz hints and sonic flourishes that may be the best soundscape on this record. The tail end of the album are essentially The World According to Anita, and are very well-written, but then…the same old musical issues.

And really, that’s the big problem. Anita Tijoux is an obvious talent, and seems to have a lot of dedication to her craft. But great rap music requires more than a great flow and personal ambition, it requires sonic diversity, and until these beats gain a bit more substance, her music will still feel incomplete. Hopefully by the time that happens, my rap listening schedule will be a bit more substantive.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Featured: Rey Pila - "No.114" (Disco Ruido Yu-Remix)



Feature: Rey Pila – “No.114” (Disco Ruido Yu-Remix)

Independiente, Mexico

Rey Pila’s “No. 114” is probably the strongest Spanish-language song at The Hype Machine at this moment, something that doesn’t surprise us considering the song’s incredibly wide appeal, plus the striving catchy bounds that give it a marathon-like surface. Rey Pila is the new solo project by Diego Solórzano, the former leader of Mexican alt-voltage rockers Los Dynamite. “No.114” is the first single from his upcoming EP, the song is sober without losing its thirst to be expressive; might sound simple on the surface (and on its first spins), but upon repeated plays, you’ll find the song is multifarious piece within its techno-rock hybridism.

Today, we’re featuring “No.114” (Disco Ruido’s Yu-Remix), which transports the track to even denser grounds. This comes as a reaffirmation of Disco Ruido’s fine skills at seasoning pop songs. This Yu-Remix contains some passages from Yuri’s marvelous “Yo Te Amo Te Amo”, the ultimate shamelessly Televisa-encouraged pleasure among Mexican hipsters. Previously, the group had equally pleasing remixes for She’s a Tease (“Datos Intimos”) and Quiero Club (“51”). Disco Ruido has just finished its first LP titled Sistema Solar, will be out in a couple of months.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Julieta Venegas - LA ENTREVISTA: Part 2



Last Friday, Club Fonograma had the privilege of interviewing Julieta Venegas. What follows is part two of the conversation between Julieta and "the World's First Julieta Venegas Scholar." But first, Club Fonograma would like to thank Julieta for taking the time to grace us with an interview, and everyone in her band and management for allowing us such access and treating us so kind.

Anyway, in this installment, Julieta tackles detached perspectives in songwriting, the politics of Mexican bands singing in English vs. Spanish, and of course, women farting butterflies. Enjoy!

Andrew Casillas: Much of what makes your musical style so distinctive is the juxtaposition between your lyrics and the actual music. Take a song like “Canciones de Amor,” which has a jaunty beat and sing-a-long melody, but it’s definitely not a story with a happy ending. They sound like they could be children’s songs, but when you dig deep, you realize that these are songs for 25 year olds who’ve experienced broken relationships and have been mad at the world more than once. Most pop songs are either written from the aspect of what’s happening now, or present reflections on situations past. Your music typically explores love and frustration from a distance, but not in the abstract—sort of self-conscious observations on future events. Why do you think more musicians don’t approach songwriting from that perspective, and do you even think that’s an accurate statement about your music?

Julieta Venegas: I think I’m drama-less in a way. I don’t want to write [songs] from a dramatic point of view, I want them to be more from either an ironic or some other point-of-view which is not like the immediate “Oh! I’m so hurt!” because I don’t like drama queens, I don’t like drama. For some reason, when I hear a song about suffering and everything’s awful, I just get like “Ehhhhhh, I don’t know if I feel like listening to that.”

AC: How I categorize your songs is as “bittersweet whimsy”—

JV: I like that.

AC: Would you say they’re wistful and bittersweet?

JV: Oh yeah, because, especially if you’re talking about this last album, I think there’s a lot of reflecting going on, that a lot of things happened and now I’m just thinking, and it’s pretty bad. A lot of people are saying “Oh, this album is really happy,” I don’t think it’s very happy, not lyrically at least. That’s not what I was going for, or what I was going through in the sense of the stories that I wanted to tell but I didn’t want to be “Oh, this is awful and terrible,” I just wanted to go somewhere where the stories made sense to me.

AC: Like a garden, for instance, in “Amores Platonicos.” Something like that is great because it’s humorous and quirky, but the personification doesn’t prevent it from being a true rumination on love—except now the focus isn’t on the person, but on love.

JV: But I thought it was kind of cute for me as a woman to refer to somebody’s flower. I thought that was kind of funny.

AC: What’s also kind of funny is the idea of women farting butterflies.

JV: Some people love that video and some people hate it.

AC: I was wondering about the “Bien o Mal” video. Carlos is a film studies guy and ascribes all of these meanings to the images, but I’m a writer and focus more on the narrative and symbolism. Did you have any involvement with that video’s treatment or storyline?

JV: It’s really funny because a lot of people think that I actually develop my videos, and I don’t. I’m just sort of involved [at the beginning]—I’ve been getting worse and worse with each video that I make. I mean, I come and talk to directors that I really like and they come back with an idea. And it took me so long. I kept looking at ideas and I was like “No, no, no, no, no, no” and then [the director] called me. I had never met him before, and he said “I want to show you the idea, but I want to show you the idea in person” and I said “OK.” So then he came and what you see in the video is what he showed me basically, and I said “This is perfect. This is what I want.” But yeah, it was all his idea. I don’t think there’s been one video where I’ve said “Oh, this is what I want,” because I go through the songs so many times when I’m writing and producing and arranging, the last thing I want to do is come up with a video for it. What I like especially about this video is that he gave the song a totally different view that I could have never thought about because I don’t even listen to the song anymore. I play it now but I don’t go home and listen to the album.

AC: From a technical aspect, your music has intriguing elements. For example, you use accordion to affect and express what most musicians would with a violin, or acoustic guitar, or piano. Instead, you use this old world instrument foreign to pop music, which to the uninformed listener would be sort of jarring—

JV: {laughs} How cool is that!

AC: To me it is! But let’s look at it in terms of your MTV Unplugged album, which showed how much fluidity your songs have. How do you feel about the prospect that these “simple” songs, with their unique composition and instrumentation, are amenable to change? Would you welcome artists to rearrange your songs or does changing some of the “quirks” take away your intent? Or have your feelings on “your songs” changed since you did the Unplugged?

JV: I think when I did the Unplugged it’s because I needed that. I needed to transform them. I’m just not the kind of person who improvises during a show, so I’ve been playing the songs in a certain way and even if I change a few arrangements or something, I never actually focused only on that, so to me that was what the Unplugged was about. I’m the one who basically threw the rock at MTV, saying “Yeah, I’ll do an Unplugged if you ever want,” and they said yes. But I wanted to do it because I wanted to stop, I didn’t want to go back and do a studio album, and just come out again on tour. I wanted to stop and look at what I was doing on stage and the Unplugged kind of gave me an excuse to focus on the instrumentation. It was a changeable format where I didn’t have to go back to the basic rock stuff, drums, bass, whatever. That to me just opened a whole new world. Having all of those colors [just made me think] “Wow, there’s so much stuff I can do!” It definitely taught me a lot. And definitely, Otra Cosa came from Unplugged.

AC: Since your music is so frequently ambiguous, they’re easy to approach cerebrally. How do you feel, since you write these songs so personally (and selfishly), when people place their own tags and emotions to them? Is that really the point for you, or does this kind of blow your mind how anyone can place meanings on your songs that you never thought of?

JV: It blows my mind, but I love it. As soon as I finish an album I will never go back and listen to the songs. They don’t mean the same thing to me anymore—I think “I already went through that.” Again, it’s like looking at yourself in the mirror. If you see an album, if you listen to your own album—everything there is there for a reason, I put it there for a reason, I know where everything’s at, what’s the point—there’s no mystery in it for me. So wow it’s great that other people will go and listen to it, and hate it, or love it, or live it, or whatever. Because if not, that would just be so sterile, just doing a song for yourself and leaving it there in the corner. So it’s cool when it comes out and other people kind of find things in it, and I do love it when people come to me and they go “This song was important for me at this point in my life, and it did this and meant this,” I love that. I think it’s amazing that music can actually be that. And when I’m writing, it’s not about that, but when it comes out and I’m done with it, it’s like magic.

AC: I asked that last question because I once wrote a piece for Stylus Magazine where I described the accordion coda on “Lento” as a “revelation” with the accordion “embodying the sound of love’s fruition… grasping something as ineffable as love itself.” I’ve heard you do live performances of the song many times, and it seems that each version extends and plays around with the coda, reshaping the song every time. But the ingenious bit is how the album version fades out at the precise moment that the improvisation on the live version begins, whoever made that call in the studio, that’s just awesome—

JV: Do you know what the Unplugged was for me also, now that I reflect on it a couple of years later? I think the Unplugged was a way to get away from all of the co-producing that I did and make those songs into my songs. “Algo Esta Cambiando” was made the way I would have done it, and even the older songs, even “Seria Feliz” or “De Mis Pasos” I was like “How do I want to do these songs now?” It was the first time I actually just became my own producer and thought “What do I want to do with these songs?” and I don’t have anybody telling me, or stopping me, or discussing with me—

AC: It’s like if you said “I want Natalia Lafourcade to play a saw,” then she was gonna play a saw!

JV: {laughs} Yeah! Everything that happened there was stuff that came out of my head and it was like “I love that.” It was so important to be able to do that and it was the right time and the right people to do it with because, also, to me doing a live show, it was very important who I was going to have on stage. I think I chose people more for their vibe than for their musical ability. It was more about putting a group of people together that I wanted to enjoy this, and I guess it’s the whole spirit of the thing that I just felt like expressing.

AC: You were born in Tijuana, which is of course shares a border with San Diego, so you had relatively easy access to both Spanish and English language music compared to most people in the pre-internet era. Today, anyone anywhere can seek and download music from every corner of the globe, and thus many bands, particularly Mexican musicians, are singing bilingually. Had you been raised in this generation and then became a singer, do you think you would have fallen in line with this habit?

JV: I don’t like it. I grew up in a border city, and it definitely came up at one point: “Should I sing in English or should I sing in Spanish?” which I dismissed quickly. I only sing in Spanish because that’s the language that I really emotionally grew up in, and I’ve always been emotional about writing. If I write in English, I’m using my mind, my rational side is trying to communicate. I mean, I love English—I love reading in English, I love watching films in English, I’m inspired by music in English, but it’s not something that expresses me and who I am. Is that selfish? {laughs} So it goes back to that. Even if I speak English every day, I spoke to my Mom, and my boyfriends, and my brothers and sisters in Spanish, so I don’t see how I couldn’t sing in that language, since I think that music should express what you are about. And as far as people singing in English when they’re Mexican, I have this thing about Latinos singing in English because of MySpace and because of the internet, and I feel like they’re disconnecting themselves from their place, and it’s becoming this whole universe of people who are singing with a funny accent and just kind of trying to go with the flow, because when you admire someone who sings in English you’re thinking “If I sing in English I’m gonna sound like him.” It’s not expressing who they really are. That’s just what I think.

AC: That’s interesting. This whole topic seems to be a real source of controversy in the Latin music world.

JV: I can’t help, when people send me songs of theirs, I’ll go in and tell them “Sing in Spanish,” especially people who sing or write really well in Spanish. Like Juan Son is an amazing writer in Spanish. When I hear “Cuervos” my skin just gets [the chills]. And there are singers who are just so amazing when they sing in their own language. People can do what they want, but I’ve always had a thing with that, I’m always like “Wait a minute! We should talk about this.” {laughs}

AC: What would you say to those people who just want you to make another Bueninvento?

JV: I don’t remember how to do Bueninvento, I really don’t. When I sit and write songs I don’t really sing about what I’ve done before, and I’m definitely not the person who wrote Bueninvento. She’s not coming back guys! {laughs}

Monday, April 19, 2010

Julieta Venegas - LA ENTREVISTA: Part 1


Last Friday, Club Fonograma had the privilege of interviewing Julieta Venegas. Since the show was in Texas, we dispatched "the World's First Julieta Venegas Scholar" (big thanks to reader "FalsaBaiana" for providing that nickname) to meet up with her in a secret locale underneath one of San Antonio's many historic missions (or a hotel lobby, Andrew can't really remember). Because of the sheer length of the interview, we have decided to break it up into two parts.

Part one of the conversation touches on many topics, resolving personal crises through music, who Julieta writes music for, and the "simplicity" of her work. Women farting butterflies will be addressed in part two. Enjoy!

Andrew Casillas: I was struck by something that you said in a previous interview, that your music loves saying things in a simple way, but that it’s not entirely simplistic. Does that really describe the approach to your current music or is that always how you’ve approached your craft?

Julieta Venegas: Nah, I think I started approaching it after awhile. When I did Aquí, I never really thought about it, [because] I was barely starting to write songs, and with Bueninvento, it was probably the opposite of that. And I think when I did , I was trying to find another way to write and to express myself. The way I was doing it was sort of wandering, and I just wanted to get to the point, and I didn’t know how to do that. So I guess it’s something I started looking for after my third album.

AC: You’ve also said about Aquí being a better reflection of yourself, but you made that album when you were 26—

JV: Yeah, but those songs were really old. “Esta Vez” I wrote when I was like 17 or 18.

AC: Well, your songs are very detailed for short 3-4 minute songs, and the songs are really character-driven. Are these characters basically pieces of your personality extracted from yourself, or do you approach these sketches like say, a novelist, where you’re writing specific kinds of characters, and certain ones may have specific pieces of you but for the most part they’re their own whole entities?

JV: I think it’s a little bit of both. I think it’s a little more me, especially because when I write something I think “What would I say in this situation? What would I do? How would I react? What would I like to say?” and that’s basically sort of the point where I start to write. So I think it’s pretty autobiographical in the sense that it does express my way of thinking about things, but not in an anecdotal way in the sense of “This is what’s happened; now I’m going to write about it.”

AC: So what was your motivation for those early records, based on what you were saying about your songwriting ethos? How do you look at those albums now?

JV: I think I took myself a lot more seriously. I think I found my sense of humor on my third album, in the sense that when I put it out, I was really trying to react against my own prejudices. Like when I came out dressed as a bride on the cover, it was like the most extreme thing that I had ever done, and in a sense the joke was on [me]. It was saying “Hey, I’m not going to take myself so serious anymore” and I wasn’t going to care what other people were going to say because I knew I was playing with extremes, but it was also an experiment for myself in every sense. It was sort of this psychological thing I was trying to fix up, I was trying to grow as a songwriter, and I was also reacting to Bueninvento, which was a hard album to make, hard to play, hard to put out—it was just a very bad time for me. And when I finished the whole process of making it I was in some sort of crisis—“What am I going to do now? What do I want to write about? How do I want to express myself? Who am I now? Are my songs really affecting who I am now?” it was all of these questions. So I spent about a year in crisis. Also, people stopped answering my telephone calls. The record company, Gustavo Santaollalla, everybody was just sort of cut off from me, and I had a lot of questions and I just finally found my way out. But I do feel that Aquí and Bueninvento express another point of my life but it’s like when you see an old picture and think “Oh, that’s funny how I wore my hair like that” but you never say that you actually want to go back there, you just think “That’s the way it was.” A lot of people get mad at me all the time telling me “You should be more like in Bueninvento, back to being a punk rocker,” and I say “Punk rocker? I was never a punk rocker! I was always a songwriter”—

AC: I think it was the nose ring.

JV: Ohhhhh the nose ring. I didn’t have any tattoos {laughs}, but what I was always following, ever since I wrote my first song, was songwriting. Songwriting was always very different, a lot more complex. When I did Bueninvento, they were like orchestrations rather than songs. If you wanted to play any song on Bueninvento, like “Instantánea” or “Casa Abandonada,” I had to play at least 5 instruments. I couldn’t play with a guitar and nothing else. The way it was written was with the whole building [process], so after that I just said “No, I want to do a song that I can play with a guitar, with just the piano,” I didn’t have to think about all of that instrumentation.

AC: About a year ago, you played at a symposium at USC, and you had to play “Casa Abandonada” and you admitted that you didn’t remember how to play that song very well anymore. Was it because you just don’t identify with the person who made that song, or because of the crisis that emerged from the Bueninvento sessions, or do you just not like playing those songs anymore?

JV: Well, I had never played it on piano before, it was written on accordion. I think I can still play it on accordion without trouble, but it was sort of like a riddle. I realized that my songs are like riddles, and I guess I am lazy to play those songs because it’s like “Wow, this is like a trabalengua [tongue twister], where you play with words and move them around into a game.”

AC: Who do you write music for? For yourself as a songwriter trying to test yourself out or to see how you write about personal experiences, or do you write with your audience in mind?

JV: Nah, it’s totally selfish. I’m all about me {laughs}. When I’m writing, it’s very therapeutic, and yes it’s about placing tests on myself, and also talking about things so I can think about them in different ways. And I love words; putting stories together. I just love doing that and, yeah, it’s totally selfish.

AC: Moving on to your “pop era,” what was the major motivation behind the change in your sounds? Was it just that you wanted to write easier songs or that you wanted songs that could appeal to a wider range of people, or was it just because you met Coti and thought “Alright, someone can help me write pop songs”?

JV: {laughs} No, I think it was mostly about the songs. When I finished going through the whole Bueninvento trek, I was not even conscious that it was a complex album until I started playing it live. I thought it was easy to play live, and when I started playing it, people would be super nice to me and they were all like “She’s cool because she’s one of us, she’s a rocker,” but no one would sing along to a song; [I] didn’t think they were getting it, so I felt a little bit isolated when I started writing again. Also, I had done a few covers, which I realized that I really liked singing and they were so simple. And I was like “How come I can’t, as a songwriter, do what I want as a singer?” I mean, I loved singing these simple songs that had simple, direct stories just happening there—“That’s not so hard, and it doesn’t have to be so hard.” And when I started writing, I was like “That’s really hard!” Trying to get to that is very difficult, or for me it was. My songwriting has always been very intuitive so it’s like I don’t know what I’m doing. At one point, a friend, who then became my manager, said “Why don’t you get together with Coti, he’s this songwriter from Argentina” and I listened to his album and I was like “I don’t even like his album, so why would I want to get together with him?” and he said “No, because he’s really into the Beatles, he’s a really simple songwriter, I think you guys could make a good combination.” So I got together with him, and I was kinda curious about it, because I was like “Maybe I can learn something from him,” because I really felt like by myself I was just going around in circles—I wanted to do something different but I didn’t know how to get there. So I got together with Coti, and it was pretty cool because he does have a totally simple approach, but his personality is totally different from mine. So I think we made a good combination, because they weren’t as poppy of [songs] as they could have been, but they weren’t as dark—we found a middle point. So yes I did learn a lot from that experience, I think my songwriting did go in a different direction as I started to get together with Coti.

AC: So it was like in a sense, you’re making something more timeless, something more digestible. You found that middle ground that wasn’t so fluffy that the old fans would just hate you for—

JV: No, that I would like. It’s not like I’m a bipolar person, and all of a sudden I became like {gestures}—because I think my personality is the same but I did find, like I said before, a sense of humor in things and the ability to change and express things a little bit differently, and I think that was a big test for me.

AC: Speaking of a sense of humor, or rather a lack of one, how did you feel about some of your long-time fans’ response to ?

JV: The thing is though, with Bueninvento I felt really alone, I didn’t feel connected to people, I didn’t feel like I had this super fanbase which were betrayed by me changing musically or anything—I was really alone. A lot of people started coming out and yelling like “Oh my God, I’m a fan of Bueninvento!” and I’m like “You were probably five when Bueninvento came out so I don’t think you were at any of the shows” because the only place where I think that people actually sang along and were really passionate about the songs was at a show I did in Orange County in what must have been like 2002 {laughs}, I mean, it wasn’t like an album that I could have said that a lot of people really connected with and understood. It’s sort of like the “last album dilemma,” you know, everybody’s like “I like your last album better,” not this one. So I wasn’t really worried about it because I felt really disconnected and really didn’t know where I was going and I had to follow my own instincts. I wasn’t thinking about other people, because I had no idea what was going to happen. For all I knew, could have been a flop completely, and I wasn’t really thinking about that. To me, it was all about trying to change, and trying to do something that would help me get out of the dark little place that I was at and I felt really stuck with it. So I was like “I’m just gonna break that, and I don’t care what happens,” and I wasn’t thinking about “What are people going to think? What are my fans going to think?” because I didn’t even think that I had fans, I was so isolated at that point that I had no idea what was going to happen.

PART 2

Video: Protistas - "Nortinas War"


We have been dying to give some love to one of our new favorite bands, Chile’s Protistas. Their music is ‘fit’ on apparel, very attached to those moments of youth when one is anxious (with fear and joy) to grow up. Yes, they remind me of Gus Van Sant, who happens to be one of our favorite filmmakers and the director of the overlooked, best film of the '00s Paranoid Park. Protistas has just about everything to breakthrough as one of the year’s discoveries, although they’ve generated buzz since last year. “Nortina’s War” is the first cup from an upcoming EP they will be releasing under Cazador, home of Los Mil Jinetes and Fother Muckers. You can currently grab their awesome song “Videocamara” on our latest compilation.