Take notes, universe — Allá is bringing it. Through open-minded musical meanderings and international travel, the sound of Allá has marinated and fermented into a delicious concoction of beautiful arrangements translating into celebratory audible moments of electro-psychedelic-Tropicalia-funk goodness.
Building on the success of their finely crafted full-length debut, 2008’s Es Tiempo, their new work #FeedTheDragon is obliterating boundaries and taking the band’s 2013 into borderline unrealistic realms with at least two albums worth of new music on the way this year alone. #FeedTheDragon Volume One, the first in a three-part release hosted exclusively by Chicagoist, is set for a March 15 release. And if your musical taste rivals that of Denise Huxtable, you’re in luck. Allá has got you covered. The tracks that have been released thus far off of #FeedTheDragon are like the aforementioned Es Tiempo and ’90s pop/R&B on some high-energy amphetamine yet to be discovered and/or named, a trend that the mainstream hasn’t gotten a stranglehold of yet, but you know at any given moment they might…and then overdose.
We got a loving spoonful from lead singer and voice in front of all this gorgeously gallivanted goodness, Lupe Martinez. She gave us the lowdown on the makeup of a band blazing its own career trail, carefully crafting each and every note along the way and not letting a little bit of record label drama get in the way of the creative process called #FeedTheDragon — because the beast is hungry.
Gozamos: How has the reception of the new music been so far? How’s the “tease,” as Jorge put it, working out?
Lupe Martinez: Reception’s been great so far. I think if people didn’t enjoy the tunes they wouldn’t comment at all. The teaser tracks seem to be pumping up peoples’ interest in the release and helping us get back on the radar. Yes, ALLÁ is still an existing group, we have a little bit of a different sound than before but we’re still doing what we love: making music!
How are the albums going to be accessed? Hard copies? Downloads? Soundcloud? What method do you guys prefer, and how did you arrive at the decision to release the way you are this time around?
People are going to be able to download from our Tumblr or stream from our Soundcloud page. Either method is fine at this point, as long as the music is out there for people to finally listen to us; I mean it’s free either way. The label that released Es Tiempo didn’t respond to our email and after six months of waiting we took matters into our own hands and decided to do it ourselves. We hope people are as excited about #FeedTheDragon as we are …
You guys going on tour this year or playing any festivals?
We hope to be back on stage by the fall, as far as tours and festivals…we’ll go where the music takes us.
What have you guys been up to since Es Tiempo‘s release and success?
We were performing shows supporting Es Tiempo for three years and our second EP release Digs for a couple years then took time off from performing live to write and record for #FeedTheDragon … the clock was ticking
What’s the plan for 2013?
In 2013 we’ll be releasing three volumes of music (Winter/Spring/Summer releases) then gear up to perform live.
Is Feed The Dragon the name of your first new album coming out this year, and even if it’s not, what has that phrase come to mean to you and the band?
We’ll be releasing #FeedTheDragon Volumes One, Two, and Three and #feedthedragon to us means that we’re finally feeding our labor of love to the world, we’re ready with or without a label, we’re even giving our music out for free just for the love of what we do.
If “Without U, All Fall Down”, and “Because” are any indication, the sound is evolving into something much different from the stuff on Es Tiempo, not just because of the switch from strictly Spanish, but the tracks all have more of an R&B/Electronica/Tropicalia feel to them. Was it a conscious effort to bring a new sound to the table, or did it all come together on more of an organic tip?
We love pop music and this is us making pop music, it’s a bit of both organic and a conscious effort.
That being said, I love the new tracks and I love Es Tiempo (and your Digs EP). Describe your processes of creating projects through the years up to the current stuff coming out this year.
Thanks, we honestly love music. I thought I knew music until I met Jorge and Angel who introduced me to so much more. Our palette is large, but it always falls back to the root of pop. Es Tiempo being our Spanish pop/psychedelic/krautrock album. Digs, our cover album, showcasing more of our, at the time, raw live improve side. And finally #FeedTheDragon, our pop/urban soul tunes. We have to keep things interesting which is how our music stays true to ourselves in all our influences.
How does the collaboration or democracy work within the band?
Its gotten to be a true democracy the longer we’ve worked together. We’ve grown a lot as a band and personally writing these new tunes.
Tell us about that open mic night at Subterranean when you all met…
I was going to perform some cover acoustic songs at the old open mic nights at SubT, and I knew Jorge was coming to hear me, I saw a lot of new faces that night; there was a lot of buzz within Jorge’s circle about me potentially filling in the spot as the singer he had been looking for over a year for the Es Tiempo record. I didn’t even meet him until after my set. I guess I did alright cause he introduced himself and told me about his four-year-in-the-making record. He seemed intense and a little crazy but very inspired, and finally on my way home I understood why listening to the music; my jaw dropped with the strings arrangements and production of the tracks. I was so excited because I had been searching for a new project as well, and why not? This one that was so different from anything else I’d even sang on at that point. I was excited for the challenge.
How did that Digs project come to be? The “Love Lockdown” cover was an interesting choice and perfectly timely. As Kanye West is one of my favorite musicians and personalities in the business, I’m curious as to why you guys are so enthralled with Yeezy and if he’s heard the cover or reached out in any way…
The label that released Es Tiempo wanted to showcase our “other” side so they gave us a budget to cover artists that you won’t normally associate with Es Tiempo. Kanye was a last minute addition. His 808s & Heartbreaks album was his pop album. We dig Kanye and regardless of what fans thought we thought it was really dope that he departed from hip hop …but in hindsight the Digs EP was an interesting project but certainly not our favorite project. We’d rather work on our own tunes and it really ended up confusing our fans. We love pop songs. Let’s just stick to that.
What’s the most important thing to you when creating music?
That it swings and has heart. We’re blessed and grateful to have people still interested in what we’re doing and that we still have the heart to do this. There is no finish line when it comes to doing what you love. You just do and do it because it feels good.
Who’s the most important musician to you right now?
We love the UK dance scene and the west coast electronic beat scene. Burial and Flying Lotus were eye openers for us. We met Flying Lotus in 2010, and watching him perform by himself with a laptop in front of thousands of people was liberating. It was just him and the music. When it comes down to it, that’s all you can give your audience. It was really pure.
Who’s in your regular rotation right now on the ‘ole iPod?
Burial and Rihanna
What would you be doing if you weren’t creating music?
What do you want to accomplish through your music?
Great songs last forever, so we focus on the songs and whatever happens afterwards is icing on the cake, really.
What are the goals for Allá and what do you want to be known for?
For writing great pop songs and being artists that carved their own path. Just as we did with Es Tiempo, an album we financed ourselves, #feedthedragon is a labor of love …
Tell our readers how to stay current with what you’re up to.
We exist in the online universe. Here is how you can see what’s up:
Thank YOU,Terry!. We deeply appreciate the interest and support!
Feed The Dragon, Face The Dragon…I’d say Allá has successfully slayed the dragon.
Check out a track from #FeedTheDragon below