Abstrakto: How a Chicano from L.A. and a Hollywood Actor Learned to Make Beautiful Music Together

Meet Abstrakto.

ABSTRAKTO_revised

Their mission: to get your head nodding to their moody blend of cumbia, funk, reggae, dub and more.

#TBT Our first live performance at @PicnikPasadena on May 30, 2014. Who was there?

A video posted by Abstrakto (@abstraktomusic) on

Credit: @abstraktomusic / Instagram

Abstrakto is Asdru Sierra…

asdru-trumpet-abstrakto
Photo Credit: Angela Weiss / Getty

His voice (and trumpet playing) may sound familiar.

He’s a member of L.A. group Ozomatli…

Credit: KEXP / YouTube

Here he is getting down with OZO on the song “Cumbia de Los Muertos.”

And his partner, Balthazar Getty, probably looks familiar, too.

balt-getty-headshot
Credit: Michael Buckner / Getty

You’ve seen him in the movie Lord of the Flies and the shows Brothers & Sisters, Alias and Charmed. He’s also a member of the Getty family. They’re kind of a big deal.

So how did a Chicano from the Eastside of L.A. hook up with a wealthy Hollywood actor to start a band?

abstrakto-peace-high

 

Credit: Michael Bucker / Getty

Their kids grew up together.

Getty: “Our sons are the same age, just a few months apart, actually, and have been in school [together] since kindergarten. Now they’re both about to turn 15. I can remember very early on being on the younger side, in terms of parents, and then seeing Asdru, this kind of bad-ass rocker dude, and then figuring out very quickly who he was.”

Asdru: “It’s a trip because my early memories from first meeting him were, ‘Oh, you’re the guy from Lord of the Flies, man.’ Being one of the only two or three Mexican families in the school, he would see me and he would go ‘Ey, órale, que onda guey!'”

And Balthazar Getty isn’t just an actor. He’s been a beatmaker and producer for years.

Nada mas

A video posted by Balthazar Getty (@baltgetty) on

Getty has produced hip hop records for years, and was also a part of the rock duo Ringside.

Getty’s band, Ringside, did the original version of this Enrique Iglesias hit:

Credit: Enrique Iglesias / YouTube

Whaaaaat?

wee-bey

Told you he’s not just an actor.

After listening to one of Sierra’s solo tracks, Getty suggested they work together.

@asdrusierra & @baltgetty are ABSTRAKTO.

A photo posted by Abstrakto (@abstraktomusic) on

Asdru: “I would see him at school and he’d be like ‘We gotta do something!’ I’d be like, ‘Yeah, I’m down. Call me.’ It was like that for a couple years until one day we were hanging out at our kid’s party. He goes, ‘Man I just heard your demo, do ten more of these and we can make a record. You gotta sign with me.'”

Getty: “I just felt that I wanted to get something out of Asdru… I thought I could help. Asdru played me a very early demo of ‘Marcando Paso.’ And I was like, ‘Holy shit. This is special. Like, really special.’ And that’s when I told him on the spot that I wanted to produce it.”

Asdru wasn’t sure if he was ready to step out on his own.

Look at the cool merch I got for my phone. Anyone want one? I'll hook you up, I got a bunch in my trunk #abstrakto

A photo posted by Abstrakto (@abstraktomusic) on

Asdru: “I had doubts about even doing a record. The idea in the beginning was to do an Asdru Sierra record. And for me, that makes me uncomfortable. It feels weird for me putting myself on a pedestal.”

Getty:He’s such a humble guy, and like all of us, we’re all insecure. Quite often, you need somebody next to you to tell you [that you can do it]. My whole perspective and outlook with Asdru is that he is a rockstar and that part of why I even got into this endeavor [with him].”

But Abstrakto found their groove.

Rehearsing….

A photo posted by Abstrakto (@abstraktomusic) on

Photo Credit: @abstraktomusic / Instagram

Asdru: “Balthazar has a passion. He’s one of those guys that really passionately believes in what I did. It’s like a music art gallery for what I do. He made it possible for me to do that, that’s really fucking awesome.”

Getty: “He knows that I’m a beast in the studio and he knows that it’s my medium, which is drum machines and keyboards and stuff. That’s what I do and he’s known that for a very long time. When we were ready to rock I was like, ‘Let’s do this.’ And he was like, ‘Hell yeah.'”

Asdru: “[Getty] did what a director does. He directed. He helped me focus. I would get stuck in a creative hole and he would dig me up.”

The result is a self-titled debut full of brooding, cinematic tracks.

Credit: purplehausmusic / YouTube

Abstrakto believe their self-titled debut is the soundtrack to a movie that hasn’t been written yet. Getty says it feels like the music to a Tarantino or Robert Rodriguez film. Asdru says it could be an Alejnadro González Iñárritu movie.

Asdru: “The world will see the definition of anything through a really good film. You wanna have somebody really understand you? Create a movie and explain it really well. Have it as a testament to what really is, like real journalism … music is good journalism. It shows the way things are, with more feelings and more emotion.”

They’re not afraid to get dark…

Credit: purplehausmusic / YouTube

Asdru: I grew up in Glassell Park. It’s so weird to go back to Echo Park and there’s like white people taking pictures. I remember it was emptied out all the time, with drugs. My brother in particular, the one I write about in my music was caught up in that. I saw a lot of violence, a lot of friends murdered. A lot of guns, AK 47’s. I knew more about guns back then as kids do now. Now the reason my kid knows what it is because of video games. I knew because the kid next door had one and he didn’t know how to shoot it.

Whenever there was a drive-by, my dad would say, ‘Al suelo’ – ‘To the floor.’ I would hear the shots almost every single day. I would just put on my headphones and try and to drive it out. Not as a form of escape, but as a form of release. This record, Abstrakto, is the kind of music you listen with your headphones.

But they also want to make you move.

Getty: “Everything we do is based in head knocking which is a hip-hop thing, a reggae thing, a dance thing. Even if it’s a stripped down ballad, it’s got to have that groove; it’s got to have that thing that makes you move.”

Now they’re ready to spread their word.

 abstrakto-performing-live

Photo Credit: Vivien Killilea / Getty

Getty: “I’m as excited about this as I’ve been about anything and I believe we can touch people all over the world, from Ibiza to Mexico City. It feels that it’s universal; it’s global. People that don’t speak a word of Spanish are thinking, ‘This shit’s crazy.’ From Armenian drivers to guys in Italy on the beach to beat heads in L.A. to, you name it. I have played this record all over the world and nobody needs to speak the language. You get it.”

What kind of movie would you direct to the music of Abstrakto? Let us know in the comments below.