Photography by Daniel Perlaky

Sound Culture & House of Blues Present:
Grupo Fantasma & Chico Trujillo on the Backporch Stage
Friday, 06/11/2010
Doors Open: 09:30 PM
Show Starts: 10:00 PM
Price: $13.00-GA Advanced, $15.00-GA Day Of
Ages: 21+

How did GF start up?
We started as two college bands. The two different funk bands combined forces after college. In Austin we started getting into our Latin influences: tejano music, cumbias, rancheros, and tropical. The backdrop of our lives in music, especially for the older people, were these traditional sounds. Once we came to Austin we missed that sound, there were no bands playing Latin music in that style, in that old-school club atmosphere. Growing up in a border town, we try to interpret some of the old songs we were into with our contemporary influences. We booked gigs, grew in popularity and quickly realized that’s what people wanted to hear. We took a funk band and made our own interpretations of the original African sounds on top of, and two steps removed from the source. We ended up with our own sound. As we became more intimate with the traditional sound we started incorporating more instruments and drums.

Diaspora Music Group is your management. Do you feel part of a diaspora?
You’d have to ask DMG about the name, specifically. But, I know those being diaspora, people separated or removed from their home land, often influence and change cultures. In the Latino diaspora, Mexicanos are living in the U.S. as Mexicanos, as Mexicans, disassociated from an “American” identity. Our border identity is all its own. It’s so close to the source, the motherland, that it’s hard to classify it as part of the diaspora, for me. It’s unique and all its own. Whether you’re talking about the Cuban-African tradition combined with Spanish-colonial poetry and guitars, there’s so many different examples. The Germans who came to México and the border and brought the accordion. There are many languages being spoken and shared on the border. It’s no surprise our music sounds the way it does.
I don’t like labels. There’s so many influences. But the common chord between all of our songs is that they’re all in all Spanish, with some Brazilian songs, funk, salsa, merengue. Our music is all danceable and progressively minded, musically speaking. We’re not trying to duplicate any sound. We’re trying to make our own sound, reflective of our own personalities.

When did you first know you would be a musician?
I started playing music 20 years ago. It just felt right. I always dreamed of being a musician. My parents were hard working people who installed in me a stern work ethic. My parents weren’t very musical or artistic. Music was not a viable career. But, over the years it became the most consistent form of work. After college with my degree in history, playing 3 gigs a week and working a coffee shop 4 times a week, I chose to dedicate myself to the music. It was a career I was pursuing actively, without having to simultaneously juggle another job or ambition.

Echoing your parents’ concern, we often hear people say music isn’t a viable form of work, especially for young Latinos. What would you say to a young musician coming from a similar place as you?
It’s one of those things, it’s a blessing. You have no control over what opportunities come to you, but if you are a reliable and hard working person, an asset to people who want to work with you, then you’ll get what you want. The hardest part about this work is that there is no professionalism. I’ve been very blessed with GF to work with people who challenge themselves and take what they do seriously. I think it’s because of everyone’s work ethic that we keep being successful. We’ve maintained our humility. We’ve been able to prosper and thrive, these people are a pleasure to work with. They might not be the next Jay-Z, but there’s more to life than money. To make a living off your art and consider yourself part of the tradition, that’s wealth. Artists who maintain their sincerity and their humility, these people are rich in spirit, in their ability to know people, and the positive influence of their band on their audience and fans.

Bands like GF break through genres and forms, creating new sub-categories. How would you describe your band’s cross-genre sound?
I hate labels. So much of the industry and the record companies is about dishing out the same-old sound and pumping it in our ears so we don’t know what we’re listening to anymore, where it comes from. I guess we’d be called Latin Funk, but that does a discredit to so many of our band members, who are coming from so many different places and influences. I’d say to anyone who’s interested in us, just check out some of our live performances on our website and YouTube. Decide for yourself what we sound like. With the Internet and the advent of digital distribution of music, so many people are just collecting their own sounds and interests. I think audiences are really expanding their horizons. We live in a free range music world and people are free to graze where they will.

Grupo Fantasma & Chico Trujillo on the Backporch Stage
Friday, 06/11/2010
Doors Open: 09:30 PM
Show Starts: 10:00 PM
Price: $13.00-GA Advanced, $15.00-GA Day Of
Ages: 21+

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