NPR

New Latin Music For 2013

The Oakland, Ca. ensemble Candelaria is one of Alt.Latino's artists to watch for 2013. (Courtesy of the artist)

Felix Contreras and Jasmine Garsd, hosts of NPR's Alt.Latino podcast, discuss the Latin music releases that have them excited this year.

What better way to fight off the winter blues than with some good music? Felix Contreras and Jasmine Garsd, hosts of NPR's Alt.Latino podcast, return to Weekend Edition Sunday to share some exciting releases from the coming year.

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Transcript

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NO. NO. NO.")

CANDELARIA: (Singing) No. No. No...

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

That sultry groove is brought to us by our friends at Alt.Latino, Felix Contreras and Jasmine Garsd. We check in with them regularly to see what's happening in the world of Latin alternative music. And they join me in the studio.

Hey, guys.

FELIX CONTRERAS, BYLINE: Good morning.

JASMINE GARSD, BYLINE: Hey.

MARTIN: This is the first time we've talked in 2013. I understand you are both swimming in all kinds of new releases, new music, right?

CONTRERAS: It's amazing. I mean, we're so excited. Every week, we're having to, like, put a limit to how much music we could put in there, because it's just a flood of stuff. It's a lot of fun right now.

MARTIN: A wealth of riches. OK, Felix, what are we listening to right now?

CONTRERAS: This is a song called "No. No. No." It's a cover of an old reggae hit by an artist by the name of Dawn Penn. This is a group called Candelaria, and they're sort of a roots, like electronica roots-Cumbia group. They're very independent. I found this song because they sent to me on email.

MARTIN: Really?

CONTRERAS: Yeah, through our website. And they said, Hey, check us out. And it's just an example for us about how there is so much great music at every level. Whether you have a record label, whether you're doing it on your own like this; whether you have a very true indie spirit like this band, there's so much great music I just fell in love with this track.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NO. NO. NO.")

CANDELARIA: (Singing) And if I ask you, baby. You'll get on your knees and pray, boy...

MARTIN: You guys, be careful. All of a sudden, people are going to be emailing you. Your in-boxes are going to be full.

GARSD: But we really do have a symbiotic relationship with our listeners. I mean, they teach us as much as we explore with them.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "OH FEBRUARY")

MARTIN: Jasmine, I understand next up, you brought a song from a band called Y La Bamba? The singer is originally from Mexico, right?

GARSD: Yes, Luz Elena Mendoza, she's originally from Mexico. And earlier, they had an album called "Court the Storm," which I played that CD so much it was full of scratches - I couldn't hear it any more. And now, they're coming up with an EP called "Oh February." She's always had a great voice but now it's legendary.

MARTIN: Let's take a listen.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "OH FEBRUARY")

Y LA BAMBA: (Singing) Say what you want to say. Say what you mean out loud. Hear, it is far, it is try, and as long as it - it is good. Oh February, let's take a walk. Let's take a walk...

MARTIN: That's lovely. Also love the percussion right there.

GARSD: It's wonderful.

CONTRERAS: They're a great, tight band. I saw them at South by Southwest last year and they've played so much together, they're reading each other's minds. The rhythm arrangements - I'm a drummer so I'm always fascinated by what they do - the rhythm arrangements even live are pretty complex and a lot of fun.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "OH FEBRUARY")

Y LA BAMBA: (Singing) Ohhh...

MARTIN: OK, Jasmine, you brought another track. This time, a musician named Manu Chao? Am I saying it right?

GARSD: Yes, Manu Chao is an icon all across Latin America and Spain. And here, he's getting his classic song, "Welcome to Tijuana," is getting remixed by Dominican DJ Freaky Philip.

MARTIN: OK, let's take a listen to that.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WELCOME TO TIJUANA")

MANU CHAO VS. FREAKY PHILIP: (Singing in foreign language)

MARTIN: Sounds sufficiently freaky.

(LAUGHTER)

MARTIN: So for those out there who aren't familiar with Manu Chao, what's different about this? What's super surprising about this remix?

GARSD: Well, Manu Chao has a very rock, ska, Latin rock. He's really like one of the pioneers of Latin rock but this is so more much like a club - it's remixed in a style known as trap-music, which is Southern hip-hop. It incorporates elements of house and crunk and dubstep. So it's much more dance floor than Manu Chao's stuff usually is.

MARTIN: OK. And I understand, Felix, you're going to wrap us up. What do you have to finish us off today?

CONTRERAS: You know, Jasmine and I, we listen to a whole bunch of music. And, of course, we do Latin Alternative for the show. But we're always talking about the different types of Latin music that we hear. And I brought in - I'm a big fan of Latin jazz. And I brought in a new album from a musician named Pete Escovedo. And he's sort of like an icon...

MARTIN: Yeah.

CONTRERAS: ...of Latin jazz and Latin rock out in the '70s, out on the West Coast. He's got a new album out called "Live in Stern Grove." And I'm going to play a track called...

MARTIN: Stern Grove, I love Stern Grove.

(LAUGHTER)

CONTRERAS: Isn't it the best place?

MARTIN: It's the greatest place to see music, yeah.

CONTRERAS: In the redwoods, in the Bay Area in San Francisco.

MARTIN: Yeah, it's beautiful.

CONTRERAS: It's a very popular concert venue. And this is a song called "Solo Tu," which he recorded years ago with his daughter, Sheila Escovedo, and she's featured on this cut as well.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC, "SOLO TU")

PETE AND SHEILA ESCOVEDO: (Playing)

GARSD: Sheila Escovedo, also known as Sheila E. from Prince.

CONTRERAS: Correct.

MARTIN: Nah-ah.

CONTRERAS: Yeah, that's his daughter.

GARSD: Yeah.

MARTIN: I didn't know that.

(LAUGHTER)

CONTRERAS: Oh, yeah. Yeah.

MARTIN: That is so cool.

GARSD: We've been trying to get her on as a guest DJ for a while.

CONTRERAS: We're getting close.

MARTIN: I had no idea.

CONTRERAS: Yeah, you know, she's been playing with her dad's band since she was about 15 years old. She's an amazing hand drummer - congas, timbales, drum set. She's an amazing musician and she started out playing with her dad's band, Azteca, back in the '70s. I saw her, god, it must have been '75 or so - out in Davis years ago with the band. And then she did a lot of studio work. She became well known on her own, just doing percussion drum set with jazz, jazz fusion. And then, later on, she became Sheila E., as she really hooked up with Prince and started playing music and just doing the whole funk thing.

MARTIN: Yeah.

CONTRERAS: And she still does the Sheila E. music. But also, does more of a contemporary jazz sound, as well. And then, still plays with her dad, who I have mad respect for.

MARTIN: Let's get both of them on.

CONTRERAS: Ah.

MARTIN: Can we bring both of them on?

GARSD: Oh, yeah. We've been trying.

CONTRERAS: Let's do it.

MARTIN: Sheila E., if you're out there, we want to talk to you - with your dad.

(LAUGHTER)

MARTIN: That was Felix Contreras and Jasmine Garsd from NPR's Alt.Latino. It's an online show about Latin alternative music. And you can hear more about the songs they played today and more at npr.org/altlatino.

Thanks so much for coming in, guys.

GARSD: Always a pleasure.

CONTRERAS: (Foreign language spoken), thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC, "SOLO TU")

PETE AND SHEILA ESCOVEDO: (Playing)

MARTIN: This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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