MP3 Sweet Electra - When We Remixed Earth
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7 MP3 Songs in this album (42:57) !
Related styles: Electronic: Electronica, Mood: Party Music
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Producer, composer, and guitarist Giovanni Escalera was a pioneer of the late-'90s electronic music scene in his hometown of Guadalajara, Mexico. He formed the band Sweet Electra in 2002 and became a part of the Nopal Beat collective, eventually signing with EMI records for his first album.
When Giovanni was a teenager, while his friends traded Latin American pop albums, he waited patiently each month for the latest British new wave imports to arrive at the local record store. Though he loves classic Latin dance beats, he creates sounds that are truly global, reflecting his omnivorous musical tastes. In addition to composing and producing for Sweet Electra, he's written scores and songs for several Mexican films and television shows. In his free time, he enjoys painting, shooting and making videos, and trying new ethnic foods in his current home borough of Queens.
In 2005, Giovanni relocated to Mexico City to join in on that enormous metropolitan's exciting art and music scene. When he was auditioning young women to fill the role of Sweet Electra's new singer, someone urged him to call a student at the city's prestigious Fermata conservatory named Nardiz Cooke. As soon as she opened her mouth to sing for him, Giovanni knew he wanted to collaborate with her. They immediately recorded the group's second album, CAMA.
Nardiz grew up in the hot and dusty northern Mexican state of Sonora, where she performed since she was a child, often in traditional mariachi groups. Her mother recalls her singing loudly in her crib--Ëperhaps her father had a premonition when he named her after the beautiful Jazz standard "Nardiz." Now that Nardiz, a mesmerizing and passionate stage performer, is enjoying the glittery Manhattan life, you can often find her during off-hours sitting on a stool at Schiller's Liquor Bar.
Both Giovanni and Nardiz enjoyed success and a strong fan base in Mexico City. But after performing at Joe's Pub for the Mexico Now Festival in 2006, they eventually made the big decision to pull up roots and try to make it in the world's greatest city, New York. The emotional and exciting year they spent settling into their new home inspired their latest album, When We Abandoned Earth. Surrounded by new friends and an inspiring new collection of artistic influences, they're broadening their outlooks while retaining their warm and fun-loving Mexican sensibilities.
Noche Latina, Interview >>
Mexicans creating Spanish electronica? Yes itâs possible, all thanks to Giovanni Escalera and Nardiz Cooke, whoâve left behind their fame in Guadalajara to lure New Yorkers with their haunting pop melodies from space. Imagine the hypnotic beats of British New Wave colliding with the attitude of rock en espanol as the delicate vocals of a celestial creature leads an orchestra of guitar strings, faint piano lullabies, and trance inducing drums. With their latest album, perfectly titled When We Abandoned Earth, Cooke and Sweet Electraâs founder Escalera are showing New Yorkers a new side of Latin music. Despite recent performances in popular venues, such as Webster Hall and Joeâs Pub, Sweet Electra has come a long way to getting New Yorkers under their spell. We chatted with Escalera from his Queens home about Sweet Electraâs adventures in New York, creating a surreal genre for Latinos, and why many find their music addicting.
nocheLatina: How was British New Wave influential to you?
Giovanni Escalera: There was this band from Mexico City called Peligroso and they were big in the 80âs. I remember checking out their records and noticing that all of their music was American or British. I also discovered The Cure when I was eight and I really loved them. Depeche Mode, New Order, Joy Division, and Echo and The Bunnymen were also big for me. I then started to make music with a Mac computer.
nocheLatina: When did you learn English?
Giovanni Escalera: Itâs kind of funny, actually. I think I learned it through music because I remember listening to these records and I didnât understand anything they were saying, but I wanted to learn what the lyrics meant. I was still in school and we had a basic English classâ¦wow, I remember taking out an English dictionary and trying to translate the lyrics!
nocheLatina: How did Sweet Electra get started?
Giovanni Escalera: Sweet Electra started in Guadalajara and at the beginning it was supposed to be a project of house, drum, and bass with different languages. Guadalajara was all about electronic music, especially with bands like Sussie 4 and Shock Bukara. I was told to speak to these bands about starting an electronic collective and thatâs how it began. I was encouraged to record an album and it took about three months for that to happen. It was mainly collaborations with other bands. Then there was a DJ from Los Angeles who made a remix of the album, which went to Europe, a country very into electronic music.
nocheLatina: Could you talk more about what the Nopal Beat Collective is?
Giovanni Escalera: Nopal Beat Collective was the first sound of the band. It united electronic beats with other Latin influences, like Mexican music from the 50âs, and the cha cha cha. With the second album, we quit the Collective and we started to change the sound completely, so it became indie electronic rock.
nocheLatina: Could you describe how you and Nardiz met during an audition?
Giovanni Escalera: I decided to move to Mexico City in 2005 and I wanted to start more of a band, so I was looking for a singer. After listening to a lot of girls, Nardiz was just really good. She had a natural talent and I remember that she was so nervous and kept saying that her audition was really bad. At the end, she was the best. Thatâs what I liked about her. She was completely honest about herself. Then we began recording the album Cama.
nocheLatina: And then you came to New York City?
Giovanni Escalera: The first time we came to New York City was in 2004. We played at Joeâs Pub and then we were invited to participate in the first edition of this festival called Mexico Now. Plastilina Mosh was also involved with that. We then left and didnât return to the city until 2006 when we were invited again to the festival. From there, we did other gigs and played at Lincoln Center. We just loved the city so much. We were supposed to be here for just two weeks, but in end, we stayed for a few months. We came back to Mexico and then decided that New York City was the best place to be because itâs so diverse, especially for our music. Thatâs why we decided to move in 2006. I live in Queens and we produced the new album here. Basically, the plan was to record the next album in New York City.
nocheLatina: What were some of the challenges that you and Nardiz faced in creating electronic music?
Giovanni Escalera: Itâs kind of hard when you say âIâm a Mexican musician,â because people then ask, âOh, so you play cumbia or ranchero?â Itâs like, no, I donât play anything like that. Iâm a person trying to make music that I like, which is multi American/British. Itâs sometimes hard when people categorize you because of where you came from. People are like, âYouâre Mexican, are you sure you play this type of music?â Itâs really funny because weâre just like, âWell, weâre really close to the United States.â Itâs a strange feeling for us. European audiences tend to be more accepting of our music. The Internet is definitely helpful for Mexican bands like us making electronic music. Things are changing. Youâre beginning to see more Latin artists playing in shows, like Coachella.
nocheLatina: Looking back, how has your relationship with Nardiz changed?
Giovanni Escalera: It was really hard performing in coffee shops and having no money. We had happy times, but there were sad moments too. Then we started wondering whether we should go back to Mexico. But, weâve always managed to get a gig, which kept us going in the city. When we decided to record the album we only had around $200. However, we met someone who loved our music and he let us use his studio in Chelsea for free. Thatâs what makes living in New York City so amazing. There are angels for musicians. Every time we feel like we should quit and make a real living, good things happen that keep us making music.
nocheLatina: Why was it important for you and Nardiz to make it in New York City, as opposed to expanding the success you already have in Mexico?
Giovanni Escalera: Things were great in Guadalajara, but I always wondered what was going to be next. I just felt like it was a really small place for us. I was bored. I needed to play outside the country. New York City is fast paced and a great challenge for us.
nocheLatina: Talk a little bit more about When We Abandoned Earth.
Giovanni Escalera: This album talks about our experiences in New York. Itâs pretty nostalgic. We missed Mexico, but at the same time, we were falling in love with the city. Nardiz had also broken up with a boyfriend, so we were having these weird, happy, and sour moments.
nocheLatina: What does Sweet Electra have planned for the summer?
Giovanni Escalera: This spring, weâre going to play in Mexico for the first time in three years. Weâre touring and then coming back. Weâre trying to get involved with LAMC, Summer Stage, and the Brooklyn Festival. Weâre also speaking with a lot of people about getting a residency in the city. I think itâs very good practice for any band to just be on stage.
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