Editor’s Note: A Flor de Piel is a Latin music band out of Chicago by way of Mexico. In this interview, they discuss how Latin music has such strong emotions about it and how they love making people dance and sing with their music. They are currently making noise in the Chicago Indie scene with their fun-loving music and their wonderful musicianship. Fans can learn more about A Flor de Piel at the following locations:
Let’s start off bay you telling us a little about yourself. Where do you guys come from?
Most of us are born and raised in Chicago, with parents who migrated here from Mexico.
What inspired you to make Latin music?
I grew up listening, dancing and singing Latin music, so it came naturally for me. It’s my first language. It’s the language that I associate with warmth and strong emotions, as well as my roots and my past. I also enjoy infusing my flavor into other non-latin songs.
What makes latin music unique?
I am not sure that this is necessarily a unique characteristic only of Latin music, however the fact that the Latin world has had so many historical influences has resulted in a very rich music genre with lots of variants. Latin music has three main roots, Spanish, Native or Indigenous, and African. However, it doesn’t stop there, throughout history Latin music has evolved and continues to evolve by embracing other sounds from all over the world reflecting the realities of its places of origin. This is why you can find so many different regional styles within one country alone.
What are some of the hallmarks of the genre?
Inarguably syncopation is prevalent in many Latin music styles. A distinctive quality of Latin music has been that it’s mostly sung in Spanish and Portuguese. But that’s not the case anymore as more and more Latin music is written and sung in English and other languages, especially in the U.S. I think it is undeniably a sensual music. Many examples are upbeat and danceable, though not all of it. Even the slow songs can be soulful and passionate.
How has the reception been to your music? To an outsider like me, it feels very authentic and completely different from what most bands I listen to do.
Thank you for that. In general, people who listen to our music tend to have a very positive response to it. A lot of our followers have told us that they love how we do a very unique fusion of the modern with the traditional and the Latino with the American. For example, we cover a song by Ray Charles, “What’d I Say” where we fuse the blues with the son jarocho which is a style of music from Veracruz. Both music styles have roots in African music and culture. Our original song “Trancazos” fuses ranchera, rumba flamenca with hints of rock rhythms. We play music that makes us feel good and that is authentic to us. I know there are people out there who describe themselves as purists when it comes to traditional Latin music. However, music just like people are beautiful fusions. Just like language. Our lyrics tend to be bilingual and we definitely use a lot of Spanglish in our songs. We make music because it is our passion and our favorite way of expressing ourselves. We incorporate what each of us brings to the group from their personal experiences and the result is a very unique and interesting combination.
What are some of the challenges of playing such an idiosyncratic genera?
Well, one of the challenges is that maybe not every one of our listeners may identify with a specific sound, or music style. However, we hope that the music and the emotions conveyed through it will get this point across: that we are all human in this world and we have more in common than not.
How do you approach song writing?
I don’t. It approaches me. I might find myself in a situation when someone does something that makes me think “I can’t believe this is happening.” Or some phrase that they say catches my attention and the song starts to grow from there. So I just sit down and start jotting it down on a napkin or whatever I have available at the moment, then if I feel that it’s got something more or there’s something more pulling me or coming from me then I will continue. If not, then it’ll just end up in the drawer with the rest of my notes and napkins for later. Sometimes it’s maybe days, sometimes it’s years before a song is completed!
What are some specific challenges that you face as a band playing such unique music?
Like my heritage, which is Mexican-American, I feel like I have to straddle both worlds. And so, my music straddles both worlds. I don’t always find an audience that completely understands my music like i understand it. So, yeah the music that I write is the best of me and the best of me is my two cultures, where I come from, and only I can truly balance both and understand how to balance the two.
And there you have it. A Flor de Piel has a couple of gigs coming up! Check out the gig dates below!
Thu. 2/21- Tack Room in Chicago, Illinois
Sat. 3/23- La Tequileria in Melrose Park, Illinois
For tickets and further information on the gig dates listed above, click here.