When you see national buzz on an artist from your city, you can’t help but feel a sense of pride, as if those feel good moments belong to you as well. And, they do! For me, being moved by someone’s art makes me feel that much closer to the artist, even if we never meet. On this occasion, ESSO Afrojam Funkbeat have been joyously sharing their sounds por todos lados leaving a fresh impact of what Chicago is all about. You can catch them back on home turf soon as they perform March 23 at Hideout.

The band’s style isn’t easy to define and in music that’s a great thing because it allows you to explore that complexity… from their poetic barrio-inspired jams, to their thought-provoking spoken word and those contagious hybrid cumbias. Each fresh new track serves as a sound refresher and an opportunity to listen to life in the city through song. 

I reached out to ESSO to see what life’s been like lately, especially on tour. They also shared some of the tracks they’d listen to on their way to SXSW (which has come to a close this weekend) so we’ve put it together as a playlist apt for any and all kinds of trips.

You can find all of Esso’s music on their website here and on Bandcamp

Describe life on tour…

Armando Pérez

I’d describe it as life fully lived, hahaha. Time seems to slow down. I can tell you what I did EVERY SINGLE day on the road, whereas in the city on an average day, things blur together due to routine. The energy of the road is unpredictable and adventurous. 100% pure adrenalin (thanks Bhodi/ Patrick Swayze). There is indeed the fulfillment of performing to new audiences every night. Connecting with new people is the highlight for me. I must also say it is overall a bit hectic. But there’s never a dull moment… unless you have a long drive ahead of you, then all you need is good music.

In one sentence, I might say, “It is a kaleidoscope of ambition and sweat, patience and drive, camaraderie and comrades wiping the sleep from our focused eyes.”

Jess Anzaldúa

Tour life is a personal test. I have learned so much about myself, specifically how to navigate the exciting uncertainty of day to day, and challenging yourself musically. I also learned self-care is important, being your best for yourself and your bandmates. ESSO is my family, and I love tour life. It’s my vacation from my 9-5 job. I feel blessed for the opportunity to spread my love for music with others who share similar passion and drive and to experience this across the U.S. and internationally. It’s an amazing and humbling feeling.

Puerko Pitzotl

For me, it’s a dream come true to travel and share our music and message with more people. The van rides can get kind of long, but it’s all a part of the journey. It brings us closer and makes every performance memorable.

Dan Lieber

Touring is one of the best parts of being an artist. Seeing and feeling new places is fun, but getting what’s inside of you out to new people is the real draw. Connecting with strangers through art is magical, as is bonding with your mates!

Diana Mosquera

My tour life is simply awesome!! I love “adventure” and the unexpected.  My tour life can be best described as an adventure and full of surprises.   Touring can get tiring with all the traveling, but performing at different cities, stages and for different kind of people makes it all worth it.

Matthew Davis

Touring is beautiful to me. It’s real, it’s fun, and it’s insane. You get to know people REALLY well. and it has a routine of unpredictability which makes me feel alive.

Ezra Lange

A roller-coaster of emotions!

Kevin Miller

Going on tour and being able to share these amazing moments and visit many places I’ve never been to with the rest of my bandmates (familia) has been the greatest time of my life.  I honestly wouldn’t rather do anything then just get in a giant van and drive around the world playing shows night after night. It can be difficult at times because we are a big group and we have a lot of different personalities, but that just adds to the fun in my opinion.  We have really grown as individuals, musicians and bandmates because of the time that we have spent together and the learning process that goes along with tour life. We are a team and to be successful you need to make sacrifices and strive to be the best part of that team you can be.  Not everyone is the standout player but you gotta know your role and excel at it. I love it!

Logan Lu

I don’t know if I can describe tour life. It is amazing and tough and teaching all at the same time. I learned a lot about myself, my limits, my expectations, and my strength. Visiting each city, most of them for the time, is something I dreamed about since being a teenager growing up in Chicago. Leaving your home and family and comfort zone to travel across North America is exhilarating and scary. The people I’ve met is my favorite part of each tour. Each city has its own personality filled by the it’s inhabitants. The long drives can be revealing; I learned so much about my bandmates from the hours long drives through mountains and deserts. We morph from a band into a family.  

What have you done differently or the same for each tour?

Armando Pérez

I prepare differently after each tour. Experience demands you do things better the next time: what to pack (less is more), what to do on your down time in the van (what book to read, write, or catch up on emails), how to spend free moments in the city (take a walk, check out a museum or visit friends in whatever city we are visiting), how to promote the shows, etc.

Jess Anzaldúa

Every time I bring less on the road,  that’s a good lesson. Healthy snacks and pillows every time.

Puerko Pitzotl

I bring my own snacks for the road to try to eat healthy. I pack light too so I’m nimble on the road and because my instruments take up a lot of space. I approach each tour with an open mind and no expectations, it’s my goal to learn from the experience, connect with people, and grow as a person and musician.

Dan Lieber

We’ve improved our organization, especially our duty-sharing. Armando handles all of the prep work before the tour, but on tour we try to help each other out as much as possible.

Diana Mosquera

This is a funny question because I definitely learned how to pack lighter.. I definitely bring less stuff now compared to our first time touring.   Is challenging being a girl and packing only the necessary lol that’s something I definitely learned to do better. I definitely try to stay hidrated as much as possible and I plan on continuing to do so.   Every tour has been a different experience so I just learn from each tour and enjoy myself as much as possible.

Matthew Davis

I try to approach each tour fresh, with an open mind. Anything can happen.

Ezra Lange

You can learn a lot about yourself & your bandmates when spending a month together in a van. I think each of us has picked up strategies for touring smarter & more efficiently. Finding ways to be consistent with nutrition or exercise have been very helpful to keep the mood elevated during long drives. In the future, we will probably limit ourselves to 10-14 days at a time when traveling, to reduce expenses & emotional burnout.

Kevin Miller

I think I have become more professional in the way I approach the tour and realizing it is not just a long, fun vacation.  I want my bandmates to know they can count on me, even if I can barely walk, in helping us grow as a unit. That is really the only thing I believe I have done differently, besides not drinking until 2 P.M. which is a good rule for me.  The first tour that we were on I had the time of my life but that may not have been the greatest thing for our bands progression. I also had the time of my life on our last few tours as well but my approach has changed as I am taking things more serious.  Otherwise I try to keep vibes on the positive, read a good book, bump some jams with the crew and enjoy the moment. Truly blessed to work with such beautiful, amazing people.

Logan Lu

Since the first time I went on tour I definitely keep watch on my eating and drinking habits. I make sure not to party as much. I treat tour now more like work than vacation.

What are 5 songs you would play on a road trip to SXSW…

Armando Pérez

  1. Dennehy (Serengeti) – Leaving Chicago demands I hear this tune. It puts me in a great mood and connects me to the city in a great way.
  2. Everybody Loves the Sunshine (Roy Ayers). Driving down south this time of year brings the promise of seeing the sun more often. Not many songs transport me to sunshine quicker than this one. All time favs.
  3. Peripheral Visionaries (Young Galaxy). Another feel good song that has always stayed with me. It make me feels right.
  4. Jiggy (Borchi Y Su Doble Redoble). This tracks brings excitement into the car… much needed energy for the extended road trip to SXSW!
  5. Primavera Cero (Soda Stereo). A summit climb out of the Winter and into the Spring season, this song is what it feels like to shed the old and gracefully transcend into the new.

Jess Anzaldúa

  1. ESSO -”Sangre”  Juntos album
  2. Abbilona -all music!
  3. Ruben Blades- Siembra (entire album)!
  4. Jorge Aragão – Ja é
  5. Grupo Fundo De Quintal “ O Show Tem Que Continuar”

Puerko Pitzotl

1) La Plata / Nidia Gongora
2) Doum Sound / Chicago
3) Lengualerta / En cada respirar
4) Fundacion Pura Sangre / Manita
5) Manu Chao/ Politics Kills

Dan Lieber

  1. Working All The Time – Pimps of Joytime
  2. Pacifics – Digable Planets
  3. Chicken Grease – D’Angelo
  4. Light Years – Jamiroquai
  5. Paul Simon – Graceland

Diana Mosquera

  1. Mas y Mas ( Robi Draco Rosa) I love his poetic lyrics and rock with latin rhythms.
  2. Sunday Morning (No doubt tragic kingdom album) No Doubt always puts me in a good mood.
  3. La negra tomasa (Caifanes)  My favorite Spanish rock band. I love the way they fuse cumbia in this song.
  4. Estampa  (Ruben blades ) One of my favorite latin songwriters.
  5. Latinoamerica ( Calle 13) This song just gives me goosebumps! The poetry is just beautiful and very uplifting!!

Ezra Lange

1) La Calle; Esso’s afrobeat-influenced summer jam.
2) Smashit, by Prophets Of Rage; Y’all know who, the whole album kills.
3) We Want Fun or any other song by Andrew WK.
4) L’Via L’Viaquez; The Mars Volta; heavy, with groove & truth.
5) The new Tribe Called Quest, because the album is dope.

Kevin Miller

  1.  Little Brother by Black Star (produced by J Dilla)  I can pick any Mos Def, Talib Kweli or J Dilla tune but why not just combine two of my favorite mc’s and the baddest producer on this ridiculous track.
  2.  O Namorado da Viuva by Jorge Ben. Because have you heard this song?
  3.  Voz Mayor by Esso Afrojam Funkbeat. This song just always makes me groove when I’m traveling.
  4.  Mr. Kenyatta by Lee Morgan. Search for the New Land is one of my favorite jazz records ever and this is a tune that pumps me up as a horn player.
  5.  For Corners by Digable Planets. I need Digable on the road anywhere I go and this track is just so damn smooth and puts a smile on my face.

Logan Lu

Dark Side of the Moon Album
Dark Side of the Moon Album
Dark Side of the Moon Album
Dark Side of the Moon Album
Dark Side of the Moon Album

 

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