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SXSW Spotlight: Caloncho

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Caloncho performs in Austin for the first time. Photo by Nancy Flores/American-Statesman
Caloncho performs in Austin for the first time. Photo by Nancy Flores/American-Statesman

Caloncho performs in Austin for the first time. Photo by Nancy Flores/American-Statesman

After the release of his debut EP Fruta, Oscar Castro (aka Caloncho) has experienced a meteoric rise that has come with a lot of firsts lately like attending the Latin Grammys (Caloncho was nominated for two awards), playing big festivals like Vive Latino in Mexico City, performing internationally in places like Colombia and Costa Rica, and now showcasing at South by Southwest.

It’s also the first time Caloncho, who hails from Guadalajara, plays for American audiences. His official U.S. debut at the Latin Alternative Music Conference in New York was a media-only performance, and so he didn’t get a sense of how fans would receive his music. Caloncho performed his first SXSW showcase at Icenhauer’s on Wednesday night, where some super fans hung on every word and knew all his lyrics by heart.

Ahead of Caloncho’s second SXSW on Friday at 1 a.m. at the Red Eyed Fly Inside, we sat down with the 28-year-old rising pop star. The following is an edited version of our conversation.

What are your first musical memories?

I remember my grandfather, who played the accordion, waking me up on my birthday when I was little and playing “Las Mañanitas.” I got my musical side from his genes. He also played the organ and acoustic guitar. My father also played the acoustic guitar, and he influenced my songwriting with his stories. I remember a road trip where we didn’t have a radio in the car, and so he made up stories along the way. That’s what my work is – music plus stories.

What’s the Mexican indie pop scene like right now?

We’re starting to realize that there’s a place for everyone instead of competing. We’re sharing knowledge and uniting more. We’re all growing together.

What upcoming projects are you excited about?

The second volume of my EP, called Fruta Volumen 2, will release in May. They’re songs crafted around the same time as the other album, but that I didn’t have the time or money to record. I’m also writing some new songs now.

What are some non-SXSW things you’ll enjoy while in Austin?

I’d like to eat some barbecue and maybe check out Barton Springs.


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