Miami – After three long years of adventures on the road, Grammy-award winners La Santa Cecilia took a much needed break.
The members of the Los Angeles Latin alternative rock band ventured into the dessert and unplugged themselves from their daily lives – and the Internet – in order to write the songs of their new album, “Buenaventura,” which is being released Feb. 26.
“'Buenaventura' translates into a great adventure, a beautiful adventure,” percussionist Miguel “Oso” Ramirez told Fox News Latino. “We visited so many places we never imagined [we would] – like Argentina, Colombia – and it was great to connect and be in that vitality of all these different places. It's been a beautiful adventure, and I think 'Buenaventura' is a reflection of all that stuff that we gotten to live for the last three years.”
They also got help from songwriter Claudia Brandt who collaborated on several songs.
Lead singer Marisol Hernandez, or "La Marisoul" as fans know her, agrees with Oso. “It’s been awesome to ‘andar de patas de perro,’” she said in a Spanglish evocation of the vagabond feeling of wandering everywhere when playing on the road. (Literally, the phrase means "walking on dog's feet.")
'Hamilton' blows the Grammy night away
Best pix of the week
Ronda Rousey kicks butt, in and out of the ring
Grammy Awards 2016: Latino celebrities on the red carpet
Stars Shine At The 56th Annual Grammy Awards Red Carpet
Latin Grammys 2015: Celebrities shine at the red carpet
Celebrities shine at the 2015 Latin Grammys
Latin GRAMMYs: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
'Biggest Loser' crowns new champion: Roberto Hernandez
Mexican band Maná honored with star on Hollywood Walk of Fame
Album honoring Sandy Hook victim up for two Grammy nominations
The King of Latin Soul talks about not being Latino
“We had the fortune to escape to the desert, we rented a little house in Joshua Tree [in South California], a magical place, and I took their cellphones and put them in a drawer,” she said recalling how she forbid being connected to social media. The experiment worked and the desert, their experiences and dreams provided inspiration: In just two weeks they had written all the songs.
Accordionist and requinto player José “Pepe” Carlos and bass player Alex Bendaña are the other two band members of La Santa Cecilia, whose name honors the patron saint of musicians. But La Marisoul considers award-winning producer Sebastian Krys as the fifth band member. He has been the producer of all their previous albums except their debut.
“This is the fifth production we have done with him, and he has been a great booster of the band – not only as a producer, but he is kind of like an extra bandmate who you don’t see on stage, but he is there," said La Marisoul.
Krys was key to getting famous collaborators for this album, like Spanish singer Enrique Bunbury who lends his voice to a cover of the famous mariachi song by Ramón Ayala, “Tragos de Amargo Licor” ("Drinks of Bitter Liquor"). Argentine rock legend Fito Páez also joins La Santa Cecilia on the song, “Vámonos” ("Let’s Go").
“He does a little cameo," La Marisoul said. "We are fans of his music. The way he writes inspires us so much. There is a song he wrote called, ‘Yo Vengo a Ofrecer Mi Corazón’ ('I Come to Offer My Heart'), and we quote that song in ‘Vámonos.’ With the help of Sebastian we were able to contact him, and he agreed to participate. For me, it was a dream come true – one of those special moments – listening to the voice of maestro Fito.”
David Hidalgo from Los Lobos collaborated on the song “Nunca Más” ("Never More"), on which Alfredo “El Godo” Herrera played the jarana.
“Just remember that my face has a name, and it wont be silence never more,” goes this politically charged song that honors the 43 students from the Ayotzinapa teachers' college assassinated in Iguala, Mexico, in September 2014.
“I think the song is a reaction to what we are seeing all around us, in this country with the police brutality, in Mexico with the students of Ayotzinapa”, Oso told FNL. “We are really sick and tired of seeing this kind of violence happen to young people, to movements that are trying to accomplish something positive for society.”
Another collaboration on "Buenaventura" came from the students of the Latino Arts Strings Program in Milwaukee – young musicians 8 to 18 years old who play traditional Mexican music. “We met them about a year ago, and we were completely blown away, inspired, moved by this kids, because they are playing at such an amazing level,” said La Marisoul.
They were the first performers the band decided to collaborate with. The chosen song was “Caminante Nocturno” ("Night Walker"), a romantic ballad arranged by the director of the Milwaukee program, Dinora Márquez.
The album has very upbeat rhythms and catchy dance tunes like the party anthem, “Pa Que Trabajar?” ("Why Work?"), “Calaverita” ("Little Skull"), a homage to the deceased in the spirit of Day of the Dead celebrations, and “I Won’t Cry for You,” a liberating break up song.
Oso confessed the band did not have the intention to write a dance album. Instead, they were “just trying to be honest” and produce what is natural for them as individuals and as a band.
“This album has the full spectrum of everything that we feel as individuals in our life, and we are just lucky that we get to put it all together in a CD. We have the opportunity to be able to play so many different styles – that is one of those things that the band is known for, mixing genres and experimenting with different genres – and we are really lucky that the audience receives that experiment of everything that we love,” Oso said.
This Feb. 25 they will have that opportunity once again when they play their new songs in the Appel Room in New York City's Lincoln Center the night before the release of "Buenaventura."
Beatriz E. Mendoza is a freelance journalist and a creative writer living in Miami.
Follow her on Twitter: @bemendozac.
Like us on Facebook