The Music You (Latinitas) and I (Child of the 80s) Love

Music2Every October tens of thousands gather in America’s new city sweetheart, Austin, TX for a music festival that lasts two-straight weekends: Austin City Limits Festival.  Emerging and established bands convene for an eclectic expression of new and old music and Latinitas was there to cover as much as possible – exploring new and old loves:

Nightbox – this Irish quartet was, to me, what would have happened if the 80s band New Order could have had a baby – really if any band of that time could have reproduced its DNA -Psychedelic Furs, Depeche Mode- even the Pet Shop-Boys.  What I loved the most about this performance was how Irish folk threads are married with danceable techno.  The bands lead is a new generation of dreamy and though this is a new, little heard band in the U.S., it’s roots to British new age made me feel like a “Latinita” again. (I’m a little over the age limit.)

Dawn and Hawkes – swinging the pendulum from club sound to Austin’s own folk duo that suceeded as finalists on “The Voice” and  touched, yes touched Adam Levine - the team took stage at the festival on my favorite stage, located centrally and smaller, the show is truly intimate and melodic and graceful songwriting gets its due.  Dawn is Miranda Dawn, half-Mexican American, half White – her voice is as beautiful as she.  She and Chris Hawkes, so young, so fresh – sing, though, like they have been writing folk songs for centuries.

Spanish Gold – A Latina publication has to check out anything that says  ”Spanish” of course. This collaboration of Band of Horses members and Austin and Laredo native son Adrian Quesada, founder of numerous other musical projects including Grupo Fantasma, Brownout and the newly formed Brown Sabbath, a commemorative, but Latin perspective on Ozzy’s Black Sabbath hits, Spanish Gold is its own brand of authentic new sound.  The entirety stays lyrically true to themes of rural meandering and Southwest origins, but as with many of the bands at ACL fest this year – they entreated audience members with something unexpected: their version of  the 90s hit “Poison” by Bell Biv Devoe.  It was refreshingly refreshing.

Tuneyards – They are not Latinas, they are not even women of color though they sound like they are and I wouldn’t stop Henry Louis Gates from doing some DNA history on this band to find out if I’m wrong about their cultural origins.  They may have some Mahalia Jackson in that lineage somewhere.  Experimenting in percussion, throaty vocals and opera-like expressions of music intention, Tuneyards get you pumped up, active – seeking purpose.  Does anyone remember Sweet Honey from the Rock?  This band loved Sweet Honey from the Rock, but also loves Red Bull and other caffeinated products, I think.  Love the energy of the Tuneyards. It’s the type of the music that slips between performance art and revolution – easily.

Zoé – if you are 30ish and Mexican, you know Zoe. If you are a Latinita living in Southwest, United States or Los Angeles, well you too are familiar with this Spanglish/ Mexican rock band that has been around for a while, but just peeking it’s head into American mainstream with the minor onslaught of more pop en Español radio stations emerging in popularity.  Zoé epitomizes what is becoming “American” music. It is no longer rockabilly folks. It’s electric guitar with cumbia undertones.

I left reviews of Juanes and Eminem to our younger Latinitas dying to see these icons, but when Pearl Jam was poised as the headliner as a Sunday headliner, well I was immediately transported to sophomore year of college.   For some of you Latinitas that was last semester – for me – that was another decade.  I couldn’t have enjoyed Pearl Jam more.  Eddie Vedder, my middle age peer is as adamant about injustice as he ever was in the early 90s grunge era. His hair is neater, but he, Stone Gossard, Jeff Ament and the Pearl Jam band restored faith in history, rock that comes from the heart and from pain.  Izzy Azalea played earlier and her act, to me, looked like the boring cheerleading practice from my high school – while Pearl Jam reeled off “State of Love and Trust,” “Alive,” and other classics like they were plugged into a whole other musical universe.  I thank ACL fest for bringing worlds such as these together because music is music – manufactured or primal.  It’s all worth a chance.

Latin Beats: Raul y Mexia

Photo credit:

Photo credit:

Have you ever noticed just how much Latinos are surrounded by music? Think about it, whether you’re listening to your parents’ favorite rancheras on a Sunday afternoon or dancing the night away at your quinceañera, Spanish music is almost always playing wherever Latinos are gathered. For most music-loving kids, a desire to be a famous Rock Star seems like nothing but a dream, but for Spanish pop duo, Raul y Mexia, they’ve made their dreams a living reality.

Raul y Mexia say their passion for music runs in their blood because they’re the sons of artist Hernan Hernandez from the legendary Mexican group, Los Tigres del Norte. “Our father would take us on tour with him and introduced us to various instruments, like the accordion,” says the eldest brother, Mexia.

While famous Latino artists would often visit their house to have “jam sessions” with Señor Hernandez, the brothers say they got the best of both music worlds as their mother also played popular American music. Raul y Mexia say growing up in a bilingual environment has helped shape their career. “We definitely are proud of our roots and want to showcase that but we were born in the U.S. and have our own musical tastes so I think that makes it easy to relate to a younger audience, ni de aqui, ni de alla,” says Mexia.

The San Francisco Bay Area native group defines their music as Urban Cumbia and says they want to use their songs to shine light upon their beliefs and passions, like immigration reform. Their song, “Somos Arizona,” Raul says, may be considered political and controversial but plays a crucial role in giving Latinos a voice. He knows his lyrics and band mates need “to be smart and educated about the topic they are fighting against.”

Karen Gonzalez, a Political Science major graduate from San Jose State University, says she enjoys listening to Raul y Mexia because they use their talents as a platform to positively speak out to Latinos. “Latinos in media is essential for growth of our community. If Latinos can be an influence, we can essentially share our culture our style and every other aspect of our roots.”

To date, Raul y Mexia feel their proudest moment as a group was when they were featured in both Billboard Magazine and The New York Times. They say there’s definitely more to come, but the best part of these experiences is sharing them with family. “We travel together so life on the road doesn’t seem lonely. We are able to share successes and failures and lean on each other when one is down.”

Los Tigres del Norte offspring say they credit much of their success to the work ethic and determination their father instilled in them and say they want to help spread that message to those looking to go into the music industry. “If you love to rap, sing or just play instruments, practice daily. The most important thing, though, is having love for what you want to do,” says Raul.

To learn more and hear Raul y Mexia’s music please visit their YouTube channel at

Concert Review: Delta Spirit

The festival concert circuit can produce some of the most fun, inspiring experiences. Or, others – weather not-permitting – shows in hot, humid and soaking rainfall conditions.  For some bands, Hurricane Sandy could be tearing the world down around you – and you still stay, watch, listen and love them.  So was my experience at Latinitas base-city Austin’s annual Austin City Limits music festival that attracts over 100,000 people, rain or shine.  I waited patiently on the schedule for an amazing band from California: Delta Spirit.

Delta Spirit, a rock band from San Diego California, consists of five talented guys: bass player Jon Jameson, percussionist Brandon Young, multi-instrument player Kelly Winrich, guitar player Will McLaren and guitar player and lead vocals Matthew Vasquez.

Their music is a rare mix of soft-rock, indie, Gospel and folk that I haven’t heard elsewhere. Delta Spirit’s music is peaceful, the beats are catchy and the lyrics will never leave your head.

At the show, it seemed the band attracts fans of all different ages, high school to Grandpas. The power of music bought people together. The band had a set list of 12 songs. The first song People C’mon, really motivated the crowd. The audience responded to lead singer and Latino Matt Vasquez as he climbed to the top of one of the show’s giant speakers. This move drove fans insane!

After that dangerous stunt, people began to sing along with Vasquez. During the song California, everyone was singing along off-tune without a care in the world. Vasquez continued the sing-a-long pointing the microphone to audience a few times during the chorus.

The set was a great mix, each song seemed unlimited. Delta Spirit did not disappoint at all and I kind of forgot about the humidity of the day. They were energetic, fun and great to watch.

The performance made me forget about how disgusting the weather was, how much sweat was sliding down my face and that the ground was covered in half-filled drink cans ruining my favorite pair of Toms shoes.

To be honest, I was one of those crazy-obsessed fans that kept jumping up and down as I sang (or more like yelled) along to every song. I was fangirl defined. I even yelled, “I love you Matthew” during the performance. The performance, to me, felt out-of-this-world. It was crazy, energetic, fun and memorable.

Here’s a video of Delta Spirit performing their song Tear It Up at the Austin City Music Festival: Video


Music Spotlight: Belanova

Spanish pop sensation, Belanova, is a group of  three friends (Denisse, Richie, and Edgar) that met in school in Guadalajara, Mexico and decided to fuse their musical talents and creativity together.  Five albums later they are one of the biggest names in Spanish pop with several awards including a Latin Grammy for “Best Pop album by a Group or Duo.”  The band recently ended their Sueno Electro 2012 Tour with a final show at the Neon Desert Music Festival (NDMF) in El Paso, Texas.  They will be headed back to the studio to have a new album out by the late fall.  They recently collaborated with English DJ, Mark Ronson for a Spanish Coca Cola commercial spot for the London Olympics.  Latinitas was able to score an interview with them at the NDMF and get the scoop on who inspires their music, what they love about their Mexican heritage, and any advice they have for aspiring Latina artists.

Why the name ‘Belanova’?

Bela means beautiful and  a nova is when a star is at it’s shiniest. It’s three friends making music.

What kind of crowd do y’all get in the U.S.?

Fortunately we have gotten a good response from the U.S. fans.

What do you like to listen to when you’re on the road?

We listen to all kinds of music.  Sigu Ros to relax, Die Antwood to dance to, and Pixies or the Beatles which are classics.

Are there other types of music or artists (past or present) that inspire some of your music?

We like all kinds of music both in English and Spanish.  We like 80s, 90s music like Daft Punk, Air, Towa Tei and Cyndi Lauper.  We also like Nicki Minaj.

I read that y’all met in school.  What would your careers have been today had you not been so successful as musicians?

Well, we all like the arts. It is difficult to think in about us not being dedicated to music, but I also like theater and dance. Edgar lkes photography and Richie likes audio production.

Can you tell a story of a crazy fan?

One time after a show when we got in the car, a fan had snuck in and scared us.  All the fan wanted was a picture.

What do y’all think of the Neon Desert Music Festival?

We think NDMF is a great platform for independent and local talent.  It’s similar to Coachella -at one point nobody really knew about it and now its this big festival attended by celebrities and lots of people.  NDMF has the same potential and that it’s exciting to see where this can go. We would definitely come back if invited again.

What’s your favorite part of your Mexican heritage?

Our favorite part is our musical heritage, which has a unique personality.

Any words of encouragement to offer Latinas that aspire to be musical artists someday?

You must always be focused and have confidence in yourself to reach your goals as an artist.  You also need to be disciplined and have lots of patience.


Vea este artículo en español aquí

Rhythmic beats, Spanish lyrics, and rock and roll with a Latin touch define the independent music movement in Mexico and Latin America. For decades, bands such as Café Tacuba and Jaguares have been able to crossover in the United States and Europe, bringing attention to Latin America’s indie scene. And now all eyes are on Monterrey — the epicenter of Mexico’s indie music scene.

The music from Monterrey is known as Monterrock, but includes a variety of music styles.

The term Monterrock also stands for the music subculture that developed in the Mexican state of Nuevo Leon’s capital —Monterrey. The movement began in the late nineties and has witnessed the birth of popular bands such as Jumbo, Panda, Volovan, Division Minuscula and Kinky, among many others. Today, the movement is made up of hundreds of bands—many of which make music at small independent recording studios or at their own homes. The movement’s poularity with music fans has made Monterrey the country’s music capital, some say. To understand Monterrock, we asked Beto Pasillas—Lubrick’s charismatic drummer— to tell us about the music and movement.

Beto Pasillas- Baterista de Lubrick

1.How does it feel to be part of the Monterrock Independent movement?

- I feel very fortunate because it is one of the principal musical movements in Mexico that is made up of great bands from Monterrey who support music and who are passionate about it. People from Monterrey like rock music, and are willing to support this music movement by going to small venues and large concerts. Overall, I feel fortunate that the audience is willing to listen to new music and support “indies” like us.

2.What are the advantages and disadvantages of being part of Monterrock?

- I think that a great advantage is that many great bands from Mexico have flourished from Monterrey. This is why audiences are always looking for new bands that start in this region. The only disadvantage I would point out in this particular movement is the lack of support from record labels. On the other hand, there isn’t a lack of support from fans. They are always willing to attend a concert and buy the band’s products.

3.What bands from Monterrock have influences your band’s music?

- I think that the bands from “Avanzada Regia” that flourished during the nineties are the ones that have influence our music. These bands are Jumbo, Zurdok, Plastilina Mosh and Kinky. It is great that the majority of these bands are still part of Monterrock, since these are the bands that made the indie movement popular in Mexico. Audiences see Monterrey as an outstanding music exporter. For this reason, we are glad that these pioneer bands have influenced our music.

4.How do you balance your commitment to your band with your personal life (school and work)?

- Balancing these two things is tough. Time management is necessary in order to make both things work. I’ve always believed that having a band is like having a girlfriend who needs to be given time and respect to make a relationship work. As a result, Lubrick’s members dedicate their mornings to school. In order to balance our school work with the band, we plan practices in the afternoons several days per week. In the end, weekends are devoted to our shows. Organization is what keeps our lives balanced.

5.Where do you see the movement going in 10 years?

- I think that in 10 years Monterrock will be a lot bigger. I think there will be a lot more support because the current generation has a lot of great bands capable of demonstrating their talent on a national level within five years. I hope that as the years pass by more participation from Monterrock will be present in Texas as it already is in South Padre Island’s Yuju! Fest. I general, I believe in the promising future that bands from Monterrey have on the national and international level.

October 2010

Music:Pee Wee Salinas

If you don’t know who Pee Wee is, or even Irvin Salinas, don’t worry. Despite the fact that he was a singer since 2003, he is barely starting to come into his own. He first gained musical fame when he joined the Kumbia Kings, a Cumbia musical group headed by A.B. Quintanilla, and later the Kumbia All Starz. In August 2009, he released his first solo album, Yo Soy.  
At the young age of 20, Pee Wee has  known success in both English and Spanish speaking countries with successful albums and television shows. In the middle of controversy, he was no longer apart of the Kumbia Kings or the Kumbia All Starz, and he began his solo career. He is starting to take control of his own career and is leaving his past behind him. In his future, he only sees his love for his fans and his life. So if you don’t know this humble guy, don’t worry, there can only be more to come.
Latinitas Magazine: Since you received the name Pee Wee so young, and as you grow older, have you ever considered pulling a P. Diddy or a Prince and changing your name?
Pee Wee: I don’t know. It’s a good question, because I’ve thought about it before, but I think I will always be identified and known as Pee Wee. I don’t think I will ever change it!
LM: Can you tell us about how you got your start in the Kumbia Kings?
PW: I started my career in the group when I went to a talent search, and that’s how the whole thing started. From the talent search, everything just happened so fast!
LM: Can you tell us the reason you left the Kumbia All Starz, and what was A.B. Quintanilla’s role in that?
PW: …I didn’t intentionally leave, but I think that I am very happy the way I am now…I always like to do things different in my career, and I’m having a lot of fun with it. It’s a lot more responsibility that’s for sure, but I’m happy because my first album as a solo artist is finally out and I really hope the public likes it.
LM: Talking about your album, what was it like to record it? Especially as a solo artist?
PW: It was a great, great experience! I had a lot of fun. I co-wrote, I produced, I did a little bit of everything for my album. I had a concept that I wanted, as far as what I wanted my music to sound like. I wanted to bring the Latin sound, the Latin percussion, the Latin guitars, the Latin type of feel that we put into the music with an electronical sound that you hear in the clubs nowadays…
LM: Is there a track on the album that is your favorite or means a lot to you?
PW: There is a track called “Desesperado” on my album that means a lot to me. Every time I sing it, it touches me…It’s kinda hard to explain because of what it makes me feel. Ever since I sang it on El Show De Los Sueños, I’ve really loved the song. I believe that’s probably one of my personal favorite songs on the album.
LM: You just started in a new novela called  Camaleones, can you tell us a little about the show and your role (Ulises Morán)? 
PW: The personaje that I’m doing on the soap opera is basically a young boy that has a very, very strong attitude…He likes to work hard for what he wants. He likes to defend his family. He’s a very humble kid; he comes from a very humble family. Unfortunately, he loses his father when he was young, and his brother-uh, for reasons you will find out when you see it, I can’t say everything!-he disappears. So he lives by himself with his mother, and he’s willing to do anything to make his mother happy and to find his brother for him and his mother. 
LM: You’ve spoken very publicly about your relationship with your mother and how close you guys are, How does that affect your role? 
PW: Well, I think it helps a lot. In my personal life, I’ve experienced what it’s like to work for my mother, to help her, to live alone with her. I feel on a personal level, I can identify myself with the character in that aspect, because he basically wants the best for his mother…
LM: Why did you want to try acting, and were you nervous for your first day?
PW: It was something that they offered me. Never in my life or in my career did I think I would ever do a soap opera or act, but it was something very cool…I’ve always liked a challenge ever since I was a kid. When somebody said I couldn’t do it, I would always do my best to prove them wrong…Ever since they listened to the material I was working on as far as my album goes, they really liked the music and they offered to put it inside the soap opera…
LM: What can your fans expect from you in the future?
PW: For me to always appreciate all the love and the support that they’ve given me. That will always be there. I don’t know. I’m always working hard, trying new things, giving my public new and fresh little Pee Wee.
LM: Your fans have really embraced you in the aftermath of all the drama. When you see your fans reacting to you, what are you thinking in those moments? 
PW:  First of all, I try my best to not cry! It feels really nice inside that they support me. More than anything, all the people that meet me, I don’t treat them like they’re fans. I treat them like they’re friends, like they’re family. They really are a part of my life and I feel that way about it… 
LM: When you first started in the Kumbia Kings, were you fluent in Spanish?
PW: I’ve always spoken Spanish.  Here in the United States, when you go to school, they try their best for you not to speak Spanish, because they want you to learn English correctly. So when I started in my career, really I was really just another guy in the band, so I didn’t talk a lot. I didn’t practice. So in the beginning, it was very hard. I knew how to speak it, but not only was I very nervous. But the camera would turn on and I would not know what to say! 
Questions From Readers:
LM: Surely you’re not surprised, but the most popular question is, “Do you have a girlfriend?”
PW: Haha. At the moment I don’t have a girlfriend, and I’m waiting for her.
LM: Your style today is very different from when you first started out. Is that from just growing up, or is there something else?
PW: I think it has a lot to do with it. My career was managed in a way back then, where I had to basically do what I was told. Now that I have my own career and I get to make my own decisions, I get to dress like I want to now. So I think it has to do with a little bit of both.
LM: What is on your music playlist right now?
PW: Um…Pee Wee’s album! Just kidding! I listen to a little bit of everything. Growing up, I feel like I learned how to sing by listening to Boys II Men, to *NSYNC, to Justin [Timberlake], to all those pop artists who use their vocals as an instrument. I really learned to appreciate those kind of artists.

LM: Lately, there’s been a lot of talk about your private life in the press, more specifically, your love life. What do you think about all that?
PW: Well, I think it was something that they made bigger than it really was. That situation is something delicate. Not only for me, since I’m an artist and a person that’s in the public all the time, but that’s something intimate about a person. You normally don’t go talking about that. Other than that, I live with two girls, my mother and my sister,  and they always taught me to respect girls. That’s the way it should be. Girls deserve to be respected, and I don’t think the girl or the mother of the girl would like that to be out in the public…
LM: Have you had any contact with A.B. Quintanilla since you went on Don Francisco to talk about your departure from the Kumbia Kings?
PW: No, I haven’t. I really don’t have any comments on that. I’ve been really focused on my career. I don’t wish him or anybody in my past anything bad. I wish them the best of luck. I’m really concentrating on my career and the things that I’m doing right now. I really try my best to strive and look forward. That’s the best thing that anybody should do.

By Lizette Espinosa

Selena Lives On

On April 16th, we celebrate the birthday of Selena Quintanilla-Pérez (April 16, 1971 – March 31, 1995) commonly known as the Queen of Tejano music. She released her first album at the age of twelve, won Female Vocalist of the Year at the 1987 Tejano Music Awards, gained popularity in the early 1990s for her blend of Tejano music with English pop, and won a Grammy award for Best Mexican-American Performance in 1993. Sadly, her life was cut short when she was murdered at the age of 23. On April 12, 1995, two weeks after her death, George W. Bush declared her birthday “Selena Day” in Texas. In 1997, Jennifer Lopez starred in a film based on Selena’s life. Millions of fans fell in love with her for her charism and musical talents. Over a decade after her death, her fans continue to remember and honor her today. Latinitas readers told us about their thoughts on legacy of this Latinita legend.

Every time I listen to one of her songs it reminds me on the great impact she had on Latinos and our culture. Selena was a great role model for everyone out there helping us realize that we can achieve our dreams no matter what the consequences were. She was famous for her amazing voice and her tejano style of music. Although she is not with us anymore, I feel that she is in each and everyone’s hearts, and her songs will stay with us forever.

- By Sofia Martin

Over ten years have passed since Selena passed away, but her memory is still very vivid today through her music. She is a great success story that unfortunately ended tragically, but her music is still very much alive. I still like to listen and dance to some of her songs. I don’t think her music will ever stop playing, or that it will ever stop touching people’s hearts in some way. The fact that there is a movie about her says a lot about her. Her life story was so much like a movie that it had to be made into a movie so that people could get a better idea of who she was and how she was truly passionate about what she did. She was admired by so many Latinos and I still believe it will continue to be that way.

- By Natalia Aguilera

When I moved to the U.S. in July of 1995 from Veracruz, Mexico, I heard of her tragic death and began listening to her music. I unfortunately didn’t know who she was until after she was murdered. I am sure that if she was still alive today, she would continue to enlighten us with her music. I admire her determination to learn Spanish, which she did, and make it in the entertainment business.

- By Mari Ulibarri

When I was growing up, I was like most kids since I rarely liked music my parents listened to. Except when it came to Selena. I loved her music. It was lively and fun, and even when I didn’t understand her lyrics (Spanish has always been harder for me), I loved how her music sounded. I also liked that she was Mexican-American like me. She was able to show both sides of her culture. I think its important for young people to see role models like that. Reading about her life, I realized how young she was when she died. That makes me appreciate her more. She accomplished so much at such a young age, and she did it in a way that was respectful.

- By Lizette Espinosa

Selena, the cheery and talented musician who brightened hearts all across the world, continues to rest in our hearts and memories. Singer and fashion designer, she held high reaching ambitions and a strong demeanor. Selena has been and continues to be a true inspiration to many young girls that dreams can indeed happen with some faith in oneself. Sadly, her life was cut short. Nonetheless, she is someone who will continue to be remembered and acknowledged for her achievements.

- By Brenda Sanchez

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