Entertainment

Ocho Ojos Is The Psychedelic Cumbia Band Bringing A Fresh Sound From Coachella Valley

The Coachella Valley is known to most as the home of one of the largest music gatherings, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. But if you look deeper, the desert area is home to miles of agriculture, a developing suburb, and a growing music scene.

Ocho Ojos, a local band from the Eastern Coachella Valley, is a product of that underground culture that many outside of the area might not be aware of. The group, Danny Torres (Synthesizer), Cesar Flores (Guitar/Vocals), James Gastelum (Bass) and Rafael Rodriguez (Drums), wears their hometown on their sleeve and are proud of it.

The group’s name, Ocho Ojos, is Spanish for eight eyes, a reference to the thick black glasses that both Flores and Torres wear.

Credit: chrisvphotography / Instagram

Dressed in matching white button-ups and white patent leather shoes, similar to the kind chambelanes wear for a quinceanera, the group likes to keep it fresh. Flores says he found the shoes at a local Goodwill one day and realized this was going to be their look. It was also helpful during the hot Coachella nights to be wearing white.

“If you look good, you feel good. And if you feel good, you play good,” Torres said. “It’s a part of who we are as a group and a reflection of our style.”

The group, which started as a duo of only Flores and Torres in 2016, started off by playing backyard gigs in their hometown. They slowly moved up to bars and local clubs and after a year, people began recognizing them.

“We just wanted to create songs that people could dance to and escape to,” Torres said. “We moved up after a year and soon we realized that people got attached to the group.”

After three years, the group would expand to a four-piece, with the addition of Rodriguez and Gastelum. This has helped them keep up with the numerous requests to play shows throughout the Coachella area.

The group likes to call themselves a “psychedelic cumbia band.” It’s a tribute to the fusion of sounds they’ve been inspired by.

Their style is what makes Ocho Ojos so unique and popular in the Coachella Valley. The group says they were inspired by the music they and their parents listened to growing up. It was a mixture of cumbia, classic rock and a lot of heavy metal.

“The music I grew up listening to had a huge influence on me and really inspired much of the music we are creating today,” Torres said. “People here love our sound and I think it’s a reflection of what we listened to growing up.”

That sound is thriving in Coachella’s alternative music scene, where indie rock, desert rock, and punk are more popular than ever. The mixture of cumbia is a tribute to their Latin upbringing and plays a special part in their success with locals.

“Our environment inspires our music. It’s consistent right in the middle of the area and the desert,” Rodriguez. “We even have a song with a sound of a snake in it, I think Coachella inspired us all.”

While the group had success, it wasn’t until a last-minute addition to the 2017 Coachella lineup that they had their big break.

Credit: chrisvphotography / Instagram

When Ocho Ojos first performed at the Coachella Festival in 2017, they performed on a Sunday to a small crowd of about 100-150. The group was also a last-minute addition, so their name wasn’t on the official concert poster and found out they’d be on the bill on Monday of that week.

Fast-forward two years later, the group was officially part of the lineup and performed along with the likes of Bad Bunny and Tame Impala. When comparing those two different experiences, Torres says it felt like the second time around the group in a way earned the spot.

“It was a completely different experience and it was a completely different process,” Torres said. “We made the lineup and we weren’t just that band from Coachella, we made it because of who we are. We felt like rock stars that night.”

From playing in bars and backyard gigs, the group felt the event was a culmination of all that hard work put forward. Rodriguez says after attending the festival as fans for years being on that stage was special.

“It was surreal after attending the festival for years to find yourself up there it felt like an out of body feeling,” Rodriguez said.

The sky is the limit for Ocho Ojos as they now plan on expanding their reach beyond Coachella.

Credit: chrisvphotography / Instagram

The group sees growth in themselves and their unique sound that has played a big role in where they are today. For them, performing at Coachella wasn’t anything close to the pinnacle of what they hope is a long music career but another stepping stone.

“All the work that goes on behind the scenes and all the little things that you consider the tedious work is important,” Torres says. “If you go into it with the idea that you’ll be famous it won’t work.”

They hope to continue expanding their fan reach and keep touring around the country. Their love of experimental music and more importantly, their love for the Coachella Valley is what drives them to keep going.

“It’s that desert love and that appreciation for what music has brought into our lives,” Gastelum says. “At night when the temperatures drop, people are dancing and they are enjoying the night, we love it and it keeps us going.”

READ: As Coachella Weekend Two Starts, Some Want Concertgoers To Respect Those Cleaning Up After Their Day Of Partying

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Selena Gomez Releases New Spanish-Language Single ‘De Una Vez’ and Teases Full Spanish Album: ‘I’m Targeting My Heritage’

Entertainment

Selena Gomez Releases New Spanish-Language Single ‘De Una Vez’ and Teases Full Spanish Album: ‘I’m Targeting My Heritage’

Photo via selenagomez/Instagram

Good news, Selenators! Word on the street is that Selena Gomez will soon be dropping her first-ever Spanish language album. The rumors started after Gomez dropped a surprising (and beautiful!) new Spanish-language single, “De Una Vez”.

Soon after the single dropped, rumors of a full Spanish-language studio album began to swirl when murals promoting “De Una Vez” and a yet-unreleased single “Baila Conmigo” popped up across, Mexico.

To make matters even better, Selena already dropped “De Una Vez”‘s music video.

The lush and imaginative video has been garnering praise for its inclusion of Latin American visuals and symbols. Gomez hired Tania Verduzco and Adrian Perez to direct her video–a husband and wife team who hail from Mexico and Spain, respectively and go by the moniker Los Pérez.

Of hiring Spanish speakers to direct her video, Gomez revealed to Vogue online that the decision was intentional. “If I was going to completely immerse myself into a project inspired by Latin culture, I wanted to work with native Spanish speaking creators,” she said.

And indeed, Verduzco and Perez tried to infuse as much Latin spirit into the video’s conception as possible.

“Magical realism has always been part of the Latin culture, whether it be in art or telenovelas,” Gomez told Vogue. “I wanted [to capture] that sense of a supernatural world.”

They accomplished this sense of magical realism by utilizing motifs from Mexican folk art, like Milagro, which is symbolized by the glowing heart that is beating within Gomez’s chest throughout the video.

“We wanted to play with powerful language and images. We designed the heart—we call it the Milagro in Mexican culture—and its light to be a metaphor for the healing throughout the story,” Verduzco told Vogue.

Selena Gomez fans are especially excited about this project because Gomez has long hinted at her desire to release a Spanish-language album.

Back in 2011, Gomez tweeted about her plans to eventually record an entire album in Spanish. “Can’t wait for y’all to hear the Spanish record;) it’s sounding so cool,” she wrote.

She retweeted the sentiment on Thursday with the comment: “I think it will be worth the wait”–which many fans took as confirmation that a full studio album is on its way.

It’s worth noting that Gomez has already dipped her toe into the Latin music scene with 2010’s “Un Año Sin Lluvia” and 2018’s DJ Snake, Ozuna and Cardi B collab, “Taki Taki”.

As for the difficulty of recording songs in a second language, Gomez said that it was a practice that came naturally.

“I actually think I sing better in Spanish. That was something I discovered,” she said in an interview for Apple Music. “It was a lot of work, and look, you cannot mispronounce anything. It is something that needed to be precise, and needed to be respected by the audience I’m going to release this for.”

She continued: “Of course I want everyone to enjoy the music, but I am targeting my fan base. I’m targeting my heritage, and I couldn’t be more excited.”

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Bad Bunny Talks Depression And Says Sometimes He Still Feels Like The Boy Who Bagged Groceries Back Home

Entertainment

Bad Bunny Talks Depression And Says Sometimes He Still Feels Like The Boy Who Bagged Groceries Back Home

Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

Bad Bunny is on top of the world. Or, at least, that’s how it appears to all of us on the outside enjoying his record-breaking year. Not only did he release three albums in 2020 but he also landed his debut acting role in the Netflix series Narcos: Mexico and from his Instagram stories, he seems to be in a happy, contentful relationship.

But like so many others, Bad Bunny has his experience with mental health issues, of which he recently opened up about in an interview with El País.

Bad Bunny recently spoke up about his struggle with depression.

Despite his immense success that’s catapulted him to, arguably, the world’s biggest superstar, Bad Bunny admits that sometimes he still feels like the young man who bagged groceries in a supermarket.

The reggaetonero revealed in an interview with El País that right as his career really started to take off, he was not happy. “You asked me before how I hadn’t gone crazy. Well, I think that was the moment that was going to determine if I was going to go crazy or not. From 2016 to 2018 I disappeared, I was stuck in a capsule, without knowing anything. The world saw me, but I was missing,” he said.

Although no doctor diagnosed him, he is sure of what was happening. it only did he feel lost and empty but he had stopped doing many of the things that brought him joy, like watching movies and boxing. Without realizing it, he had also fallen out of contact with much of his family, with whom he was typically very close.

“And that’s when I said: who am I? What’s going on?” he told El País. When he returned home to Puerto Rico from spending time in Argentina, he was able to get back into the right state of mind and remember who he was.

Despite his success, Bad Bunny still worries he’s in financial trouble.

Although today, he is the number one Latin artist on Spotify and the awards for his music keep coming, there are times when Bad Bunny still thinks that he has financial problems.

“Not long ago, I was 100% clear in my head what I have achieved, maybe a year or six months ago; but until then, many times I forgot, I felt that I was the kid from the supermarket. He would happen something and say: “Hell!” And then: “Ah, no, wait, if I have here,” he said, touching his pocket.

Much like Bad Bunny, J Balvin has also been candid about his own mental health struggles.

Bad Bunny is just the most recent to speak to the emotional havoc he experiences despite being a global superstar. And, thankfully, like many other celebrities, he’s been able to find refuge in a reality that allows him to keep his feet on the ground so that he too can enjoy the achievements of his career.

Much like El Conejo, J Balvin is known for the brightness of his style and mentality. But he’s long addressed the importance of caring for one’s mental health. During his Arcoíris Tour, he encouraged people to not be ashamed of seeking professional help, and let the audience know they are not alone.   

“Las enfermedades de salud mental son una realidad. Yo he sufrido de depresión y he sufrido de ansiedad, así que tengo que aceptarlo. Y eso me hace más humano, me hace entender que la vida tiene pruebas,” Balvin said. “Pero si alguien está pasando una situación difícil, no están solos, siempre llega la luz. Tarde o temprano llega la luz.”  

“Mental health illnesses are a reality. I have suffered from depression and anxiety, so I have to accept it. And this makes me more human. It makes me understand that life has challenges,” Balvin said in Spanish. “But if someone is going through a difficult time, they are not alone, light always comes. Sooner or later, the light comes.”  

We need more men like Benito and J Balvin to speak up about their mental health struggles, to help destroy the stigma that exists within our community.

And in the same interview, he also spoke about why he works to elevate the Spanish language.

As for the possibility of singing in English, the answer remains the same: a resounding no.

“You have to break this view that the gringos are Gods…No, papi,” he told El País. And, although he’s collaborated with artists like Drake, Cardi B and Jennifer Lopez, he has always sang in Spanish and with his famous accent.

“I am very proud to reach the level where we are speaking in Spanish, and not only in Spanish, but in the Spanish that we speak in Puerto Rico. Without changing the accent,” he said.

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