What does being an Afro-Latino band mean? My favorite LA bands in their own words


by Tom Nguyen

Seems like folks really enjoyed my last blog on 6 upcoming Los Angeles Latin Alternative bands to watch, so I wanted to follow up with my favorite Afro Latino bands, heating up dance floors all over SoCal with their tropical rhythms (in alphabetical order): Buyepongo, Changui Majadero, El Santo Golpe, La Chamba, QUITAPENAS, Tropi Corillo and YANGA.

Now, I’m not an ethnomusicologist…I’m not qualified to give you an academic lecture on what makes each of these bands different, from which cultures and regions of Latin America they derive their music, and so on. What I do know is I’m a sucker for percussion and tropical beats, and music like this gets me into a non-stop frenzy on the dance floor!

But beyond that, I’d rather you hear from the musicians themselves, to let them tell you in their own words what their band and their music is all about. And let’s talk about labels again…”Afro Latino”…it seems like everyone wants to throw that term around these days. African descendants and roots in Latin America have been so historically unacknowledged, and in Los Angeles, there’s a tight knit community of bands reclaiming and honoring African contributions that bleed deeply through their music.

Because Afro-Latino heritage has been so suppressed and unacknowledged in home countries and communities here in LA, I wanted to know what drove each band’s interest in this music and why they think there are so few musicians of Afro-Latino descent in LA. I wanted to especially hear from some of the bands who’ve used their music and platform to highlight anti-blackness in Latino communities and to work towards more solidarity between Black and Brown communities. Folks in these bands are passionate about their music and its history, but also willing to talk frankly on heavy issues that go beyond the music. I want to thank each of them for their time and make sure you catch them at one of many upcoming shows: All of them are playing free shows, with 3 of them at Levitt Pavilion Los Angeles starting this weekend and 2 of them at South LA Power Fest on September 2nd! Continue Reading →

Interview: Low Leaf, spreading her artistic wings with her biggest show yet with 13 piece ensemble


by Tom Nguyen

[UPDATE: Low Leaf’s release party has been rescheduled to Friday, February 10. Go here for the latest show info.]

Low Leaf is having her album release show, her most ambitious show yet, this Friday, December 16, at Center for the Arts Eagle Rock and amid rehearsals with a 13 piece ensemble, was gracious enough to speak with us [Interview has been edited and condensed for brevity and clarity].

EnClave LA: I first saw you play solo at The Mayan in 2014 and this year, I saw you play an amazing set with a band at Eagle Rock Music Festival (ERMF). From starting solo to now playing with 13 people, how did this all come about?

Low Leaf: I’ve always wanted to play with a band. It was just always hard for me to find the right musicians so I figured I would just continue to grow as an individual artist and that eventually I would find the right people to play with. This year, I started playing with the people I’m playing with now and I can’t believe it’s December already, because we started playing together in January and we’ve grown together a whole lot.

The drummer [Tom Kendall] came to my first sound bath in 2015…he kept coming to the sound baths…we became friends because he jammed with my boyfriend [Zeroh] and he mentioned that I was looking to start a band. He was super excited at the idea and actually is the person who found all the musicians for me because he really understood my music so he’s a big part of why I have the band.

EnClave LA: Your set at ERMF was amazing! I think even for someone their first time listening to your music, there’s such a spiritual, healing dimension to it. And especially this latest album, Palm Psalms…what is the journey and story of this album?

Low Leaf: I feel like these songs started to be written in late 2014. I did quite a bit of touring so whenever I was home, I would record these sketches. The raw idea at the time was to make some songs that were in the singer/songwriter format that all had the same unifying thread about love within and seeking truths with divine guidance and just songs I felt could be a seed of light for people that were searching for answers.


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17th Eagle Rock Music Festival: Triumphant Return and What’s Next

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by Tom Nguyen

The 17th Annual Eagle Rock Music Festival (ERMF) returned this summer a bit late or early depending on your perspective. Late because the festival took a hiatus last year to regroup after tremendous growth, and early because they moved from their usual October date to Saturday, August 20.

It was actually to the festival and fans’ benefit that there were so many competing summertime events all over Los Angeles that day. That meant the people who came were really there for what I think was the festival’s strongest lineup ever, with acts ranging from soul and funk group Orgone to Dengue Fever, a Cambodian psyechedelic rock group, to many of my favorites like South LA teen duo Sin Color and East LA’s Cuicani and La Chamba. Instead of the massive 70-80,000 person turnout like in peak years, it was probably about half that and felt like the smaller, more intimate community festival of its roots.

I loved it! With no massive throngs to contend with, I was able to easily zip back and forth between stages. Honestly the festival was a blur, because if I wasn’t dancing, I was running between stages for fear of missing out on so many great acts playing simultaneously.

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Photo by Alejandro Ohlmaier, courtesy of ERMF

Every performance I saw was solid but three in particular really stood out for me:

DSC02380Know her name now: Low Leaf. She says she’s a Filipina harpist but I think the singer and multi-instrumentalist is a supreme being from another dimension. There is something so indescribably pure and ethereal about her vocals with the wisdom of an old soul in her lyrics. She and her band took me on journey to another realm completely.

Jungle Fire…the name says it all because they always bring the tropical heat of their Afro-Latin funk and soul. The instrumental ensemble with percussion front and center is always on point with their pulsing rhythms and are completely irresistible, especially when each player takes turns jamming out.

This was the first time I heard Mark De Clive-Lowe and his band in an outdoor setting and it lent an even bigger atmosphere to the experience of listening and absorbing his rich electronic jazz and dance music. He opened with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech playing over hypnotic beats and his lovely talented wife, singer Nia Andrews, joined on a few songs that were incredible.

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Photo by Carlos Garcia, courtesy of by ERMF

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Exclusive Mix from CuLosAngeles, new Tropical Bass party in LA bridging Pan African sounds and Queer identity

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by Tom Nguyen

We’re proud to premiere the latest mix by DJ Broso, who together with DJs Bianca Oblivion and Francesca Harding, are the musical geniuses behind a new tropical bass party in downtown Los Angeles called CuLosAngeles (ya you heard that right!) whose goal is to melt your booty on the dance floor. I’ll let Broso explain…

testHOW’D YOU MEET…

CuLosAngeles was the brainchild of me and Bianca Oblivion. I had just moved here from Guatemala last August and Bianca arrived shortly afterwards from Boston where she was completing her graduate degree. Our mutual DJ friend, Dudley, who used to throw amazing Tropical Bass parties in Boston connected us so we met up and immediately started geeking out together. We ate at Roscoe’s and then came back to my place and just played music for each other for hours and talked about everything we loved and wanted to see.

13041282_1173742045969421_2725761309457081082_oWhen it came to rounding out the roster, we both knew Francesca Harding (formerly known as DJ Panamami) was a perfect fit to join us since she is a monstrous DJ who has a more Organic and Latino approach to party music as opposed to my heavily Hood and Caribbean focus and Bianca’s more Electronic and Club oriented sound. The final piece of the puzzle was bringing my close friend Christopher Eclipse on board as our host. His charisma, sense of humor, lavish outfits and ability to lead the whole party in dance are like the perfect frosting on the CuLosAngeles cupcake. Continue Reading →

Interview: Sin Color’s next show Sin ColOrquestra breaks musical boundaries with DIY Ethic and Orchestral Collaboration

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Photo by SandraFlores.net

by Tom Nguyen

If you haven’t seen Sin Color yet, you’re missing out on the prodigious talents of two teens, Crisia Regalado and David Aquino, from South LA, who are creating pop music defying labels and impressing new audiences with their constantly new collaborations and experimentation. I caught up with them recently for an interview about their latest all-ages show this upcoming Friday, May 27, at Tropico De Nopal, called Sin ColOrquestra.

EnClave.LA: What’s the idea behind this show?

Crisia: The idea is to bring together different disciplines and to collaborate and to bring a different touch to all of our compositions and our songs. And to add dancers to help us paint the story which we’re trying to convey.

EnClave.LA: What’s the story and the message you’re trying to tell?

David: Sin Color is all about just being open and constantly changing everything. Whether it’s people or sounds or ways of writing or anything, we always want fresh things. We get bored easily.

Crisia: We’re all about risking everything.

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Pico Union Project Unites Community through Faith, Music and Outreach

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Story and Photos by Oscar Bautista

Located on the corner of Valencia and 12th, near the middle of the Pico Union district, the local non-profit organization Pico Union Project (PUP) stands tall in a community as diverse as its members. No matter what your background, PUP is proud in welcoming any and all members of the community looking for a space of inclusion and respect, a basis of their core Jewish values that they actively promote.

“We’re a multi-faith community space based around the idea of using arts to promote bridges between different cultures, different faiths, different communities,” said Jason Chu, Chief Storytelling Officer at the Pico Union Project. “There’s a Jewish community that makes this home. There’s actually the first women’s mosque in America…in the Muslim community, that is controversial, but they make their home here.” Continue Reading →

BMI’s Posada en Rosa Showcases Emerging Latina Voices and helps St. Jude Children’s Cancer Research

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Alih Jey and Mitre

Story and Photos by Oscar Bautista

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Chongo Head T-shirts

The Gibson showroom in Beverly Hills housed a great lineup of emerging Latina singer/songwriters this holiday month. Hosted by Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI)’s Latin division, Posada en Rosa brought together amazingly gifted female artists, as well as community vendors to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Along with the music, attendees were treated to pastries from local SoCal small enterprises Mi Kaffe and Viva Los Cupcakes. Chongo Head T-shirts, a family business started by 14 year old Soraya Gonzalez, showed off amazing T-shirt concepts she designs with her father.

Proceeds from the night’s sales were donated to St. Jude, whose representative Odette Gutierrez took the time to educate us about the global organization’s history of improving children’s cancer survival rate from 20% to 80% today. She thanked us in gratitude, saying since they are primarily funded through donations and children’s cancer research is less funded than adult cancer research, every effort counts and is appreciated!

The main draw for the night was the showcase with five great performances by some of Latin America’s young emerging singer/songwriters. Artists for this night included Mexican singer/songwriters Anna Sophia, Vanessa Zamora, Alejandra Alberti, Cuban singer/songwriter Ilza Rosario, and Dominican singer/songwriter Alih Jey who was accompanied by fellow BMI artist Mitre. Continue Reading →

Interview with Hayokaht: Defiant and Conscious Experimental Jazz in LA’s Eastside

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Story and Photos by Oscar Bautista

With belting horns and driving rhythms, Hayokaht is one act coming out of East LA that is bringing back jazz to the communities it calls home. Using the technical and chaotic styles of free jazz, while still venturing into new territories of sound, this group takes its audiences on a ride through the eclectic cultures of its members.

Playing as a quartet, Bryan Diaz (tenor sax), Angel Hernandez (alto sax from Buyepongo), Michael Ibarra (bass from El Haru Kuroi), and Harout Gulesserian (drums) form a powerhouse group of talented artists that tempt the edges of jazz to find their unique sound.

IMG_0047 With a residency at Eastside Luv, you shouldn’t be surprised to find a packed house every first Wednesday of the month as Hayokaht entertains a crowd of fans. It was especially packed this first Wednesday of December where people came out to support Hayokaht by donating to help them towards their first EP.

After seeing their performance first hand I quickly understood why the bar was bursting at the seams. Soul baring and never missing a beat, Hayokaht mixed the wild improvisation of free jazz and the dark setting of L.A. life into a great live set.

Glimpses of the jazz masters such as Sun Ra and Charles Mingus can be heard in their performance giving homage to the artists who molded free jazz. That’s not to take away attention from the amazing musicianship carried by all four member of the group – each providing their own flavor to the Hayokaht sound.

After their set, I got to speak with these new torches bearers of L.A. free jazz to find out more about how they came together, as well as how they connect to the community through music. Continue Reading →

Interview: El Dusty brings Cumbia Electronica with Tejano Roots to LA with MLKMN, Kinky and Enjambre

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By Oscar Bautista/Photos Courtesy of Press Junkie PR

Hailing from Corpus Christi, Texas, Dusty Oliveira or as he’s better known DJ Dus aka “El Dusty” is a specialist of sound who has been mixing for years to create great combinations of sound.

Taking inspiration from old school rhythms and beats, he produces a unique sound of dance music all with a magnetic cumbia flavor.

El Dusty, along with friend and collaborator MLKMN, Kinky and Enjambre will be performing for us here in L.A. with a show coming up Thursday, December 17 at the Fonda Theater.

EnClave LA had the opportunity to speak with Dusty in hopes of giving LA audiences an insight on his introduction to mixing, his inspirations, and the amazing community of musicians emerging from the Corpus Christi music scene: Continue Reading →