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

Chiquis And Becky G Release Video For Spanish-Language Version Of Dolly Parton’s Hit Song ‘Jolene’

Entertainment

Chiquis And Becky G Release Video For Spanish-Language Version Of Dolly Parton’s Hit Song ‘Jolene’

ChiquisOnline / YouTube

Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” is arguably one of the most iconic songs in American music. We have all heard bits and pieces of the song growing up because it is just that iconic. After almost 50 years, “Jolene” has another Spanish-language cover brought to us by Becky G and Chiquis.

Spanish-speaking country music fans have a new cover to celebrate.

Becky G and Chiquis have released the music video for their Spanish-language cover of the American classic song “Jolene.” Originally released by Dolly Parton in 1973, “Jolene” is one of those songs that have become a timeless classic of American music.

Country music is quickly becoming a favorite genre in the Latino community. There has been a 25 percent increase in Latino support of country music. When you consider how many Latinos live in the south in states like Texas, it kind of makes sense.

Rolling Stone magazine claimed that it was the first Spanish-language cover of the song.

The magazine got called out on Twitter after claiming that this was the first Spanish-language cover of “Jolene.” The cover by regional Mexican music divas Becky G and Chiquis is good but it is not the first.

The first Spanish-language cover of “Jolene” is by Las Chicas del Can.

The Dominican group recorded “Youlin” in 1985 and the merengue take on the song is really fun to listen to. The version from the girl group is a very different take and feel on the song as compared to Becky G and Chiquis. The two songs are very different and both are very fun to listen to.

Either way, fans of country and regional Mexican music are here for this.

The music video is an animated rollercoaster with Becky G and Chiquis playing tough mujeres doing their thing. The music video is set up like a comic book because we all know that the most amazing superhero stories are comic books. Tbh, these two looked perfect in their tough acting roles.

If you want to listen to the original “Jolene,” here it is.

Truly, this will probably remain one of the greatest American classics of all time.

READ: Becky G Performs Tribute To Selena At San Antonio Concert

Conciencia Collective Is Bringing Together Artists To Tackle The Real Issues

Entertainment

Conciencia Collective Is Bringing Together Artists To Tackle The Real Issues

goyocqt / rafapabonmusic / Instagram

Conciencia Collective is bringing together some of the biggest names in entertainment to tackle some of the biggest issues. The Black Lives Matter protests have led to some long-needed change to police in Black and brown community. Afro-Latinos have been in the fight against the police brutality mixed with the anti-Blackness from fellow Latinos. On June 26, three Afro-Latinos will discuss the movement and the need to ensure that Black Lives Matter.

Check out the discussion today on YouTube, Conciencia’s Facebook, or mitú’s Facebook.

The death of George Floyd has ignited a fight for Black lives that we haven’t seen in a long time.

Thousands of people have been protesting against police brutality and are demanding a change to policing in the U.S. The protests have been ongoing for weeks and they are creating change. States and cities across the country have started to reduce funding for police departments. Congresspeople and senators are calling for a federal change to policing in the U.S. through legislation.

Major corporations have joined social media solidarity in support of Black Lives Matter. People are now holding those corporations accountable. Protesters want to see these same corporations follow through and offer resources to help in the fight.

Gloria “Goyo” Martínez, the Afro-Colombian singer, will be there to discuss the movement in Latin America.

The singer from ChocQuibTown wrote an open letter addressing the death of George Floyd. She did not hold back when she talked about the racism she was seeing from people in Latin America in the face of the violence.

“The great reality is that there is no racial equality in the United States or Latin America,” Goyo wrote. “I saw many comments, hundreds of people normalizing the subject saying, ‘But this also happens to white people,’ ‘But black people are criminals,’ ‘Maybe if they dressed like normal people,’ ‘They’re just hurt’ or ‘You are the racists by posting messages that only produce more pain.'”

Goyo is a big proponent of education leading the way to an anti-racist and more accepting future.

“It’s clear to me that ethno-education (or cultural and intercultural education) is the path to becoming antiracists. Learning about other cultures is important for understanding the context in which we are living,” Goyo says. “There are Afro-Latinxs, who because of a lack of education on this subject, don’t know their history, nor do they identify as Afros until they leave their countries and are discriminated for being Latinxs and for being Black. If many Afro-Latinxs are unaware, imagine a white/mixed music industry making decisions based on misguided marketing studies, which exclude and stereotype based on skin color. In Latin America, there aren’t real statistics on the Afro population. Knowing the situation that more than 100 million Black people live in would help in understanding the issue, there is a lot of history and many organizations have been working on racism. Today continue to raise their voices. Continuing to speak openly would help industries not to reinforce racist stereotypes, to continue to close the doors that are opened thanks to talent.”

Rafa Pabón is another voice on the panel this week.

The trapero is calling for a unity in the Latino community to fight against the racism that is plaguing every aspect of society. Pabón wants to know that protesters and BLM supporters are not backing down from fighting against racism.

“It is important that we mobilize and use our voices. We cannot normalize this kind of situation. Racism is inhuman and I have never understood it. We have to fight together against institutional racism,” Pabón says. “There is still so much to do, Floyd is one of so many cases, we cannot stop fighting for justice.”

Sociologist Aurora Vergara-Figueroa will be the moderator of the event.

Aurora Vergara Figueroa is the director of the Afrodiasporic Studies Center (Centro de Estudios Afrodiaspóricos) at Icesi University in Cali, Colombia. The Afro-Colombian scholar holds a Ph.D. from the Sociology Department of the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She concentrated on the sociological study of Afro-Colombians deracinated from the Colombian Pacific coast and the long durée of land dispossession in the world-system. Recipient of the LASA/OXFAM America 2014 Martin Diskin Dissertation Award, Vergara-Figueroa develops research on the Afrodiasporic feminist movement in Colombia. Vergara-Figueroa is currently working with Doctor Carmen Cosme Puntiel on a co-edited volume tentatively titled: Challenging Enslavement: Black Women’s Strategies of Resistance in Nueva Granada (Colombia), Venezuela, Brazil, and Cuba 1550-1900.

Her main research interests are Feminist Critique, African Diaspora Studies, Sociological Theory, Critical Race Theory, Political Economy, Political Sociology, and Comparative Historical Sociology.

We are Conciencia Collective, an alliance against racial and social injustice conscious of the need to create long-lasting and impactful changes. Comprising of +35 executives from the Latin music industry including activists, journalists, managers, publicists, lawyers, directors, on-air talent, and content creators who came together in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement to create awareness about racial and social injustice with the intention to educate our colleagues, artists, and peers of influence in order to gain their advocacy. Our ongoing initiatives also focus on the many issues affecting our Latin community.

READ: Model Joan Smalls Is Donating Half Of Her Salary To Black Lives Matter