Feature photo by @timthegiraffe
I always love when I get first dibs on something fresh. Look who’s coming hard with that sassy, disco infused electro-jazz influence and hard hitting, throwback style. The name of these newcomers might strike you as something appropriately kitch, but the band is more than just Something In Spanish. I was fortunate enough to get an exclusive exchange with all three of the band members, Michelle Perez (vocals), Julio Monterrey (electronics/synths) and David Mason (electronic drums) and their responses to my simple questions confirmed my suspicions. SIS is superb. In their “love letter to Miami” otherwise known as the sensationally suave single, “For Slowing Down” we see a nuanced, and artful batch of artist ready to make real music.
The Brooklyn-based but Miami-bread trio originally recorded the aforementioned hit at Raposo’s Midnight Sun Studio, reflecting the steady paced sensual groove of Michelle and Julio’s Miami upbringings. The video is just as sultry as the track, so pull your laptop or iPad out into the sun with you, and chill out to this lovely ditty, something like a more tropical DannielRadall.
Michelle was kind enough to email me personally upon request of a pithy Q&A through her publicist, which altogether shocked me. It’s not everyday you get to correspond directly with influential new talent. And as a half-Cuban isolated from his estranged heritage, it is always a pleasure to find semblances of reconnection to Miami consciousness. Although, it turns out me and Julio have a little more in common than simple political genealogy. Somewhere between Jeff Barbara’s own voodoo affinities and the darker proclivities of my Mexico City’ witch house days there lies an explanation for why Latin American and Caribbean lineaged artists have such an affinity for the tantalizing macabre.
Julio takes inspirations from the avant and horror spectrum, evoking artists like Bela Lugosi, Maya Deren, and films like The Baby of Mácon, but is most noted for having toured as a saxophonist with the late, great jazz musician, Maynard Ferguson. Vocalist and longtime Miami friend, Michelle takes inspiration from artists like Patsy Cline, Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday and her all-time favorite jazz singer, Shirley Bassey. In fact all three of these lovely artist take a number from jazz, and new edition to the group, David, even used to play in a little jazz band with Julio, called 2s and 4s while also getting his electronic-drums background covered in another side outfit called, Hess is More.
For those curious about their family backgrounds, Julio says he was “‘born in Managua, Nicaragua but was relocated by [his] parents, amidst a civil revolution to Miami.” And Michelle chimes, she was “born and raised in Miami with Cuban/Colombian parents.” In 2006 the magic happened, as the two met through mutual friends, and the rest is history. Oh, and according to Vice, Mason is of Irish descent.
David says, “Around the same time it seemed like SIS were looking for another element to their live show, so it just evolved like that. Favorite drummers? Hmm. Roy Haynes. Klaus Dinger.” Mason notes two of his favorite drummers as Roy Haynes and Klaus Dinger. But, before the trio was completed in New York, it was simply a casual, bedroom musical affair between Michelle and Julio confide, “We would meet in Julio’s room and worked on music together, using pretty primitive equipment. I think we knew from the beginning this was going to be long term….but we didn’t even have a name yet. I think we used to call it Mich & Jules.“