“The song will tell you what it wants – sometimes it feels better in Spanish or English” says Gustavo Mojica. “Or even Spanglish,” adds Heidy Flores, laughing. Speaking by phone from their California base, Mojica and Flores are two of the three musicians that make up Los Hollywood, a bilingual rock/pop band that continues to get a lot of buzz after winning the 2008 MySpace Latino Sponsor Your Band Competition in Los Angeles, and since then repeatedly sharing the stage with Ximena Sariñana and other alt Latino stars (most recently at Filter Magazine’s Culture Collide 2011 in L.A.).
In a musical environment where indie Latino bands may face difficulty developing a unique voice, Los Hollywood stands out in the crowd. They resist a common trend to mix into their blend every possible Latino genre, as well as the other extreme, which is to simply sing American pop in another language. Their Southern Cali grooves, tinged with British and American pop/rock hooks but with just the slightest touch of rancheras, propelled by Flores’ charisma and striking voice (think of another border songstress, Lydia Mendoza, but rock and rollified via Gwen Stefani) is all their own.
The trio consists of Flores (vocals, guitar, bass) from San Diego, drum player Gustavo Mojica from the state of Guerrero, Mexico and guitarist Marcos Mondragon, from Mexico City. After winning the MySpace Latino competition, Los Hollywood released a 2009 EP debut with the single “No Te Agüites”, that became Canción de la Semana on iTunes Latino and was downloaded nearly 60,000 times that one week.
Although officially founded in 2007, the band’s members have been musically together in some way for quite a while, which probably accounts for their tight, smart arrangements. Flores and Mondragón knew each other from high-school, and Mojica and Flores have been playing together for 8 years. Flores, one of the trio’s main songwriters, counts among her musical influences her dad’s music, as he is a singer and plays guitar who she says “taught me everything I know,” noting his favorite artists are José Alfredo Jimenez and another trio – Los Panchos.
But Los Hollywood’s compositions they explain, have a life of their own: “Each song is intuited, it’s just born. We play it however the song comes out, and it takes its own direction – pop or rock and roll or ranchera.” (I am curious as to which songs Flores and Mojica consider to have touches of ranchera, and they give “Laberinto” as an example, because of its dark, intense romanticism).
So where to now? The band’s primary goal is to make a “really good album”, and for that purpose they are composing songs non-stop, happy to announce that for the upcoming recording they will be working with Thom Russo, a renowned 14- time Grammy music producer. “We want to take over the world, conquer it musically!,” Mojica exclaims.
Now, that’s a conquest we Latinos can certainly look forward to with gusto.
Los Holllywood will play at the Cubby Bear Jan. 26, at the inaugural concert of the “Noches de Rock” series.