6 U.S.-based Latin acts to catch at SXSW 2016

 

Chicano Batman Photo contributed by Chrisko Morales
Chicano Batman, photo contributed by Chrisko Morales

 

Listen to just a few notes of Chicano Batman’s soulful throwback sounds and it’s easy to imagine it being the soundtrack to a laid-back, retro Chicano film. And with the name Chicano Batman, you can’t expect anything less than cool from this Los Angeles-based bilingual quartet. (10 p.m. Saturday, March 19, Maggie Mae’s)

Master Blaster Sound System’s cultural mashups result in cumbia electronica that pushes musical boundaries. Don’t miss the chance to catch these Austin party instigators live. (1 a.m. Thursday, March 17, Lucky Lounge)

Carrie Rodriguez’ twang-laden songs have captured the hearts of Americana music fans for years, but for the Austinite’s latest album, “Lola,” the talented fiddle player and singer connects with her Latin roots and creates a modern twist to Tex-Mex music. (8 p.m. Thursday, March 17, The Majestic)

Singer-songwriter Mitre’s haunting blend of bilingual songs are inspired by everything from spaghetti westerns to traditional Mexican music. We’re hoping that since Austin’s David Garza is featured on Mitre’s song “Aguacero” that he’ll join him for this SXSW appearance. (8 p.m. Friday, March 18, Departure Lounge)

New York rapper Nitty Scott MC has been on the rise lately with her socially conscious music that explores themes from her Afro Latina identity to mental health and spirituality. The half-Puerto Rican, half-African American artist has collaborated with rappers such as Kendrick Lamar and Action Bronson. (11:10 p.m. Saturday, March 19, Speakeasy)

Originally a punk rock band, Houston’s Los Skarnales didn’t lose their edge when they branched out to play a blend of Latin ska, reggae, rockabilly and cumbia. (Midnight Thursday, March 17, Lucky Lounge and midnight Friday, March 18, at Flamingo Cantina)

SXSW Interview: On the Spot with Irene Diaz

Singer/songwriter Irene Diaz is among the showcasing artists at SXSW. Photo by Nancy Flores/American-Statesman
Singer/songwriter Irene Diaz is among the showcasing artists at SXSW. Photo by Nancy Flores/American-Statesman

It’s easy for some artists to get drowned out in the noise of more than 2,000 official acts at South by Southwest. So when a singer creates an atmosphere where you can truly be present, music magic happens. That was the case with rising Los Angeles’ singer/songwriter Irene Diaz Friday night at the Flamingo Cantina.

Outside the venue’s doors, a raucous Sixth Street crowd swarmed. But inside, Diaz centered the spirit with her soulful, moving songs that seemed to stop time.

Irene Diaz captivates SXSW crowd at Flamingo Cantina. Photo by Nancy Flores/American-Statesman
Irene Diaz captivates SXSW crowd at Flamingo Cantina. Photo by Nancy Flores/American-Statesman

Not too long ago, Diaz, 28, was figuring out her life’s path as a college student, unsure of what direction she should take. “I’ve been playing music all my life, but I never thought I could do it (professionally),” Diaz says. “It just didn’t seem feasible.”

But in 2011, she made a leap of faith that felt right and immersed herself in the music world. She put her studies on hold and has crafted her own path, one that’s already taken her to unexpected places. In 2012, Diaz’ song “I Love You Madly” was featured on NPR’s Alt Latino program, which helped put her music career on an upward trajectory.

Diaz, who is often described as a modern day torch singer, says she taught herself to sing by listening to artists like Ella Fitzgerald. And when she later developed a keen interest in film noir, she says that’s the direction she wanted to take her “I Love You Madly” EP.

Although she’s been embraced by the Latin alternative scene, Diaz says she doesn’t want her music to be “pigeonholed.” Her English-language songs don’t have any strong influences of Latin rhythms, but they are passionate, she says.

When she began getting attention as a Latina artist, she questioned at one point whether she should start singing in Spanish. But Diaz, who is the third generation in her family to be born in the U.S., didn’t grow up speaking Spanish and doesn’t want to “feel pressure to represent Latin roots,” she says. “I’m automatically representing by being who I am…maybe there needs to be a voice for someone like me.”

As Diaz continues to rise in the indie music world, she has her eyes set on growing as an artist. She still struggles with stage fright, (which you wouldn’t know from her stunning performances), and says she’s figuring out how to best deal with that. She’s also eager to learn more about producing, and eventually wants to produce all her own albums. Diaz’s first full-length album is in the works, and music lovers should keep an eye on what the future holds for this promising young artist.

 

 

Can’t miss Latin alternative bands at SXSW

Danay Suárez will perform at SXSW.
Danay Suárez will perform at SXSW 2015.

Our Austin360 music team has poured over the intense South by Southwest music schedule and picked out our favorite SXSW showcases to check out each day of the fest, hour by hour. For music lovers who enjoy listening to Latin alternative music or want to check out some international bands, here are my critic’s picks.

Tuesday, March 17

8 p.m. Gina Chavez (Parish): Embracing the space between cultural lines, this Austin-based songstress offers a glimpse into the path she’s been on to connect with her Latina roots with inimitable bilingual folk-pop songs.

9 p.m. Dos Santos: Anti-Beat Orquesta (The Main): Get ready to groove with this Chicago-based band spreading musical love one cumbia at a time.

10 p.m. Chancha Via Circuito (Elysium): When South American folklore takes a journey into the future, you get the atmospheric rhythms of this avant-garde project.

11 p.m. Pommez Internacional (Elysium): Experimental sounds that flirt with everything from rock to electronica. Don’t bother trying to define it; just let the global grooves from one of Argentina’s most interesting bands move you.

Midnight Rashid (Elysium): A rap battle master, this Brazilian rapper rhymes in Portuguese about everything from politics to love.

1 a.m. Buraka Som Sistema (Elysium): Portugual’s innovative electronic dance music project offers upbeat musical fusions that find inspiration in everything from African beats to techno and hip-hop.

Wednesday, March 18

8 p.m. Sain Tanveer Brothers (Victorian Room at The Driskill): Pakistani percussion masters kick off the night with trance-inducing beats to get your heart pumping.

9 p.m. Caloncho (Icenhauer’s): Get transported to a tropical paradise with the upbeat and sophisticated pop songs that are making this Mexican artist one to watch.

10:20 p.m. Eptos Uno (Half Step): Emerging from the graffiti world, rapper Eptos Uno won Red Bull’s 2007 freestyle rap battle “Batalla de Gallos” and quickly rose to the top of Latin America’s hip hop world.

11:45 p.m. Morenito de Fuego (Half Step): Quirky lyrics plus hip-shaking digital cumbia/hip-hop tracks promise to make this show an offbeat but sprited dance party.

12:40 p.m. Danay Suárez (Half Step): Often described as Latin America’s Lauren Hill, the Cuban songstress takes audiences on a poetic musical journey through hip-hop, jazz, reggae and beyond.

Thursday, March 19

9 p.m. Irene Diaz (Departure Lounge): A modern day torch singer, the rising Los Angeles singer/songwriter pours every drop of emotion into her heartfelt music.

10 p.m. Diana Fuentes (Departure Lounge): We’re hoping that the sweet Cuban singer/songwriter brings her husband Eduardo Cabra of Calle 13 to perform with her.

11 p.m. Huichol Musical (Russian House): The fusion of Mexican regional music and Huichol rhythms result in an innovative cutural soundscape that’s sung in Spanish and Huichol.

Midnight La Sabrosura Dura (Speakeasy): With a salsa-heavy musical foundation, this Colombian band also blends rock, funk and hip-hop into their party mixes.

1 a.m. Centavrvs (Palm Door on Sixth Patio): It’s what you get when Mexican corridos marry electronic rhythms.

Friday, March 20

8:45 p.m. Bituaya (Flamingo Cantina): An electro-Caribbean experience from Venezuela.

9:45 p.m. Celso Piña (Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center): Watch this Mexican accordion master nicknamed “Accordion Rebel” bring down the house with his cumbia hits.

11 p.m. Raquel Sofia (Half Step): The Puerto Rican indie rocker spent time as a backup singer for Latin greats like Juanes and Shakira before breaking out on her own.

Midnight. Macaco (Lucille) Barcelona-based pop fusion band blends languages and musical styles to its popular global hits.

1 a.m. El General Paz & La Triple Frontera (Russian House) Afro-Latin rhythms get a funk-rock twist.

Saturday, March 21

6 p.m. Compass: Mexican Institute of Sound + Toy Selectah (Auditorium Shores Stage Lady Bird Lake): Mexican musical veterans join forces to showcase an epic collaboration that resulted in an album featuring over 80 musicians across the globe.

7 p.m. Bomba Estéreo (Auditorium Shores Stage Lady Bird Lake): Colombian electro-cumbia group masterfully blends hip-hop, dub and folk rhythms into an infectious, danceable sound.

8:30 p.m. The Recycled Instrument Orchestra of Cateura (Victorian Room at the Driskill): Students in one of Paraguay’s poorest communities formed a youth orchesta and play instruments made out of recycled materials found in the landfill that provides most of the jobs in the town.

9:45 p.m. Kinky (Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center): It’s a guaranteed good time whenever the Monterrey electro-rockers and party instigators take the stage.

11 p.m. Tunacola (Maggie Mae’s): Chile has been on the forefront of the Latin alternative scene producing popular artists such as Gepe and Javiera Mena. This electronic hip-hop project offers dancefloor ready tunes with a playful spirit.

12:30 a.m. World Hood (Speakeasy Kabaret): California-based group weaves together everything from hip-hop to traditional Latin rhythms to create moving soundtrack that speaks to new generations of bicultural listeners.

More Latin alternative at SXSW

Quitapenas, a Californian quintet, recently released its self-titled debut album that adds a modern twist to Afro-Latin rhythms of the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s. Their funky psychedelic tropical influences are sure to keep your hips shaking. (11:45 p.m. Saturday, March 21, Speakeasy)

Third Root, a San Antonio hip-hop group, rhymes about everything from social accountability to education. The group, which is made up of Charles Peters (Easy Lee), Marco Cervantes (MexStep), and DJ Chicken George, emphasizes black/brown unity in both its lyrics and sound. Third Root’s latest album is “Revolutionary Theme Music.” (10:30 p.m. Friday, March 19, Soho Lounge)

Master Blaster Sound System’s cultural mashups result in cumbia electronica that pushes musical boundaries. Don’t miss the chance to catch these Austin party instigators live. (8:15 p.m. Friday, March 20, Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center)

Music Monday: Irene Diaz’ “I Love You Madly”

Photo by Eric Ibarra
Photo by Eric Ibarra

Cultura en Austin wants you to kick off the work week in style. We present a blog feature called Music Monday, where we highlight new or recent Latin alternative music videos from artists who should be on your radar. We’ll showcase Austin-based musicians as well as those who regularly perform in Austin or will soon.

Artist: Irene Diaz

Song: “I Love You Madly”

Album: “I Love You Madly” EP

Irene Diaz, a rising singer/songwriter pours every drop of emotion into her heartfelt music. Diaz, a South by Southwest and Cactus Cafe alum, has been garnering national attention as a modern day torch singer. She’s performed with Austin’s own Gina Chavez and we hope Diaz returns soon with her first full length album.

For now, check out Diaz’ latest lyric video, which is set to the backdrop of silent film actor/director Buster Keaton’s work. It’s a warm and fuzzy look at relationships and love. Show it to your Valentine.

 

Music Monday: Natalia Clavier’s “Nada”

Natalia Clavier 3

Cultura en Austin wants you to kick off the work week in style. We present a new blog feature called Music Monday, where we highlight new or recent Latin alternative music videos from artists who should be on your radar. We’ll showcase Austin-based musicians as well as those who regularly perform in Austin or will soon.

Artist: Natalia Clavier

Song: “Nada” featuring Ticklah

Album: “Lumen”

Many know Argentine singer/songwriter Natalia Clavier as the sultry vocalist for Thievery Corporation, but the versatile artist’s own music brings a sophisticated blend of electronic grooves with eclectic world rhythms. We first caught her live three years ago at the Pachanga Latino Music Festival in Austin, where she joined local Grammy-winning producer Adrian Quesada for a performance with Echocentrics, their soulful funk project with a psychedelic twist.

Clavier teamed up with Quesada once again when he produced her latest album “Lumen.” Clavier returned to Austin last spring for South by Southwest and chatted with us before her festival performance. Check out our interview with Natalia.

We were happy to learn that Austin has a soft spot in her heart. Clavier experienced her first American gig in Austin, at the Austin City Limits Music Festival in 2006, when she toured with her compatriot singer/songwriter Federico Aubele. After years of friendship, it was in Austin where a romance sparked between the two, who are now married.

 

Los Rakas perform pre-Thanksgiving Sahara Lounge show

Los Rakas
Los Rakas

Hip-hop duo Los Rakas represent Panama via Oakland. Their mix of bilingual rhymes with reggae and dancehall-inspired beats have made the group stand-outs in the Latin alternative scene.

Los Rakas, who have performed at Austin’s Pachanga Latino Music Festival as well as South by Southwest, return to Austin on Nov. 26 to perform a pre-Thanksgiving show at the Sahara Lounge at 9 p.m.

Los Rakas, who are currently on tour with Latin DJ trio 3BallMTY, had no official tour stop in Austin planned. But with the help of DJ Orión and the Sahara Lounge, Los Rakas are making a special stop in Austin before performing on Nov. 28 in San Antonio.

Tickets for the 21 and over show are $10. DJ Orión and Pagame of the Peligrosa collective as well as Benzo of the Dub Academy will join Los Rakas.