I always love when I get first dibs on something fresh. Look who’s coming hard with that sassy, disco infused electro-jazz influence and hard hitting, throwback style. The name of these newcomers might strike you as something appropriately chic, but the band is more than just Something in Spanish. I was fortunate enough to get an exclusive exchange with all three of the band members, Michelle Perez (vocals), Julio Monterrey (electronics/synths) and David Mason (electronic drums) and their responses to my simple questions confirmed my suspicions. SIS is superb. In their “love letter to Miami” otherwise known as the sensationally suave single, “For Slowing Down” we see a nuanced, and artful batch of artist ready to make real music.
The Brooklyn-based, but Miami-bred trio originally recorded the aforementioned hit at Raposo’s Midnight Sun Studio, reflecting the steady paced, sensual groove of Michelle and Julio’s Miami upbringings. The video (watch below) is just as sultry as the track, so pull your laptop or iPad out into the sun with you, and chill out to this lovely ditty.
So I’ve read that you and Julio met in Miami, am I correct? Please tell us about that trip, your time there and how exactly you two got together? What was the mood of your meeting and how did that spark the origins of Something in Spanish?
Julio: I was born in Managua, Nicaragua but was relocated by my parents, amidst a civil revolution to Miami.
Michelle: I was born and raised in Miami with Cuban/Colombian parents. We met in Miami in 2006 through a mutual friend, and it was all pretty casual at the time. We would meet in Julio’s room and worked on music together, using pretty primitive equipment. I think we knew from the beginning this was going to be long term….but we didn’t even have a name yet. I think we used to call it Mich & Jules.
Your website notes both you and Julio’s distinctly un-electronic music origins… Where do you both come from, artistically speaking? Were you both classically trained?
J: I have been playing music since I was 11 y/o or so. My background is deeply rooted in jazz. I am a jazz saxophonist. I toured as a jazz musician with the late, great Maynard Ferguson and have shared the stage with many of my jazz heroes. I actually moved to New York in hopes of fulfilling my jazz fantasies, but was so turned off by the stagnant state of jazz that felt the need to move on and evolve.
M: I did not grow up playing music but fell in love with singing at a later point in my life right about the time I met Julio in 2006. I played guitar in my teenage years but always felt the need to create music that was more complex and diverse, which was outside of my musical comfort zone.
This one’s for Julio… I’m intrigued by these avant and horror leanings of yours. Care to share some favorite influences? Warning: I’m the kind of guy who gets Bela Lugosi biographies for his birthday and enjoys movies like 120 Days of Sodom and anything Ken Russell, so don’t hold back.
Wow! Yes I also love Bela Lugosi. I just re-watched Dracula after many many years and was so impressed by his commitment to the role; in some interviews he speaks of the madness that role ensued. I love the avant-garde. After visiting Haiti at the age of 18 and seeing live voodoo, I discovered Maya Daren. That led me to research other avant-garde film makers, then the surrealist, then the musical avant-garde, etc, etc. Now I love all those shocking movies from South America and Europe. I just discovered a very old, rare and shocking film, maybe you’ve seen…The Baby of Macon definitely worth a watch.
This one’s for David… Tell us about how you were brought into the fold, please. And can you note any favorite drummers of yours?
I’ve known Julio for a long time, and we were playing together in an experimental jazz project called 2s and 4s when I started playing electronic drums in another band, Hess is More. Around the same time it seemed like Something in Spanish as looking for another element to the live show, so it just evolved like that . Favorite drummers? Hmm. Roy Haynes. Klaus Dinger.
Michelle, can you tell us a little about your musical crushes growing up?
My personal crushes growing up are a little different compared to the music I listen to now. Being a guitar player, I really loved Folk music. For the most part I really felt akin to strong singers like Patsy Cline, Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday etc… But I don’t listen to them as much as I did. Now it’s pretty electronic-based and I CAN’T stop listening to Yello which actually had an amazing rotation of jazz singers like Shirley Bassey.