Meet Lester Rey & Los Leones

This Friday, local music artist, Lester Rey, will be premiering a new music video for “Andar,” a track off his latest EP. Along with a talented and exciting group of musicians, he will be headlining the event after performances by other well-known local acts, Kinky P and Logan Lu—the latter of whom you may have seen at the first event in our Gózalo event series, last Friday. The premiere party will take place at Citalin Gallery in Pilsen at 7pm.

Meet ‘Los Leones’

The group of musicians Lester Rey will be performing with is known collectively as “Los Leones,” perhaps a nod to his EP Blue Lion. They came together organically, meeting Lester Rey at local concerts and venues and through other music collaborations. Together, they create a unique, bass-driven sound that gets extra depth from multiple vocalists who, as Lester Rey put it, “bring a lot more presence to the songs” in the choruses.

  • Lester Rey – congas, vocals. He is a singer, songwriter and producer who performs as a solo act across Chicago’s underground music scene, and is an engineer at Olin Studio.
  • Rosa Claudio – bass; also plays congas.
  • Miguel Gama – keyboards; also plays bass. Other projects include the band Rai, who is releasing their debut EP this Saturday.
  • Julian Harris – trumpet. Also a member of ¡Esso! Afrojam Funkbeat.
  • Jose Natal – bomba drummer. Also is in the band Nuestro Tambor and met Lester when they worked toegether on a concert for Jorge Emmanuelli Nater, the Bomba Master and Elder from Puerto Rico.
  • Ricky ‘Starrace’ Juarez – backing vocals, guitar and FX. Other projects include the band, Brother StarRace.
  • Khori Wilson – drums. Other work includes a Motown project coming out soon.
  • Diana Mosquera – backing vocals and percussion
  • ‘Conga Vale’ – congas. Also a conguero for Dos Santos Anti-Beat Orquestra, and met Lester Rey when he was practicing with a Latin Jazz band called Son Bayú.
Filming the music video for "Andar" at La Catrina Cafe in Pilsen - via Instagram
Screenshot from the music video for “Andar”, filmed in part at La Catrina Cafe in Pilsen – via Instagram

Q&A: Musical origins and favorites, filming a music video in Pilsen and why Chicago is a great place for music

Gozamos: What artists or other influences got you into making music?

Lester Rey: I got into music because of church. As a kid I wanted to be part of the band. The church I went to was predominantly Puerto Rican so the music was usually Jíbaro music or, as time went by and they got less strict, merengue y salsa. I got into making music because one of my friends was a hip-hop artist that made his own beats, and I would go to his crib and learn the craft and make my own hip-hop and Reggaetón beats. I was heavily influenced by the Bbogaloo giants of the ’60s, along with the salsa kings of the ’70s, but growing up Hip Hop had a hold on me.

G: Who are your favorite artists out there right now? Current favorite song or album?

LR: Favorite artists include Frank Ocean, Pharrell, Kid Cudi, Kanye West, and Outkast, to name a few Hip Hop and Soul artists. Ray Barreto, Mongo Santamaria, Héctor Lavoe, and Celia Cruz to name a few old school Latin artists. James Brown, Isley Brothers, Al Green, Earth Wind and Fire, to name a few Funk and Rock groups I listen to a lot. I also love Jowell y Randy, Plan B, De La Ghetto, Zion y Lennox. Calle 13, Ana Tijoux, Mala Rodriguez are some of my favorite Spanish rappers. I gotta say one of my favorite albums that I’m bumpin a lot these days is To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar.

G: What was it like producing the new music video for “Andar”?

LR: It was very fun to work with the cast and the directors, Gerardo Romero and Dequita Tate. We shot at a couple of different spots in the Southwest side of Chicago. The first day of shooting we shot at La Catrina Cafe and one of the actors, Venus Carangi, dressed as La Catrina, It was super dope! The bulk of the cast came through, and we took a bunch of great shots to start of the storyline. Then we shot at NiteCap Coffee Bar a couple weeks later with a full band on their stage. The owners of the cafs were so kind to have let us use the space to record. We also got some shots with Enid Munoz and Austin Lim at this creepy looking factory off Western Blvd to add more elements to the story line. All together the shooting was fun, and planning and scheduling so many actors and locations was not as hard as I thought it was gonna be. All the actors were great to work with and were amazing at their performances. Besides the few mentioned, the actors also included Alejandro Cruz, Gio Padilla, Jessica Sanders, Malenis Holloway Nazario, Angelique Nelson, Gahl Liberzon, Jon Athan, Rik Vale, Reginald Johnson, Luis Angel Guzman, and Janette Bustamante.

G: What do you love most about the Chicago music scene?

LR: What I love most of the Chicago music scene is that you got a little bit of everything here. Even within the Latin scene, you got Salsa, Banda, and Latin Alternative, to name a few. Within the Hip Hop scene and Rock scenes, there is so much variety. Its like the food scene in Chicago; you can try almost anything here and be inspired almost anywhere in Chicago.

G: If you got stranded on a desert island with just one piece of music, what would it be?

LR: Tough question because I love variety so much, that it would have to be something I could never get tired of listening to and something very intricate that would leave me discovering new things about it every time I heard it…I think Michael Jackson’s Thriller because it would get my mind off the fact that I’m on a deserted island.

You can listen to and download “Andar” and other songs for free or purchase the Blue Lion EP on the music tab of Lester Rey’s website.