The “street breeze” of Viento Callejero is strongly picking up and taking the Los Angeles-based cumbia-band and their fans in different directions.
The talented trio, comprised of Gloria Estrada on guitar, Federico Zuniga on bass, and Gabriel Villa on drums, has quickly evolved since their recent birth in 2013. The innovative trio sat with Al Borde to chat about their life experiences.
Viento Callejero future plans and fast-paced experiences
You all come from different musical backgrounds, how did you guys come together and mesh all the different influences you have?
When we met, we found out there was a lot in common between us. At a young age, we chose to listen to artists from Snoop Dog to Pink Floyd. But in our households, cumbia was always playing in the background. Now that we are older, even though we all played in different bands with different sounds; we ended up going back to it. Cumbia is a music that carries multiple cultures. It is the Latin two-step and it’s all one beautiful accent.
You just released a new self-titled album through Kickstarter, in which you raised over $9,000. What was it like seeing that project through and also seeing all the support you have out there?
It was very stressful and there was a lot of pressure in ensuring its success. It even caused me some “canas” (gray hairs)! (Federico Zuniga) However, it was also incredibly rewarding. There are a lot of independent artists, but it’s a matter of finding different ways to put your music out there and Kickstarter has definitely allowed that. It really shows how people support and believe in you. Seeing the support from all kinds of people pouring in was just amazing; from family and fans, to fellow artists and talents, like photographer Piero F. Giunti. A lot of people were with us even before this project started, so they definitely jumped onboard and made it all happen.
A unique concept that you have adapted is to not have a designated singer, instead you have guest appearances, both on the album and in your live shows. Was that purposely planned? And who are some of the guests that you’ve worked with?
Yes, we designed it that way. We’re not against having a singer, but this way really challenged us creatively and musically and how we write and how we perform. It’s been great to have different voices; it gives us a new sound every time. It’s like bringing different kinds of spices to a dish and making it exotic, each singer brings a specific element; even if it’s the same song, with different vocals, it evokes different spirits, it’s very exciting.
We’ve worked with people like Martha Gonzalez from Quetzal, Hector Guerra from Pachamama Crew, and Tony Sauza from Cuicani. It’s been great to have their talent on this album and on stage with us. It elevated our sound to another level.
You are very present when it comes to participating on community events. Day of the Dead being a big celebration here in Los Angeles, you will be performing in several events, including El Velorio at Plaza de la Raza on November 8th. Tell us, how important it is to keep this tradition alive and sharing it with people of all ages, races, and cultures?
It’s a great thing to pay tribute to our loved ones. It’s something that we (Gloria and Federico) grew up with so it’s really great to see how it’s become such a significant celebration here in LA. It’s beautiful that people can share that perspective and that culture and also learn that it shouldn’t be taboo, it’s part of the circle of life (Gabriel). I grew up in Colombia and being part of these events has allowed me to learn the culture and appreciate it.
What future plans can we expect from Viento Callejero?
We are still coming off of this album, so we’d like to push it some more. We are working with some more artists and guest appearances and trying to get to as many places as the wind can take us!
We have also talked about dissecting the history of cumbia and maybe sharing it in an academic or workshop setting; possibly at a community center, or even an elementary school. I (Gloria) did a songwriting workshop where the instructor was a percussion master. He started playing percussion for the kids and their faces just lit up and immediately gravitated towards it. Shortly after, they started messing around with their own percussion, mixing Colombian sounds with Hip-hop beats and it was just amazing to see these kids merging current cultures with the cultures of history. It was pretty powerful to see that connection.
It was an absolute pleasure getting some insight to the magic behind these great musicians. Catch their magic onstage at El Velorio at Plaza de la Raza on November 8th, and to keep track of all their upcoming performances please visit their website at www.vientocallejero.com. Their self titled debut album is available for streaming on Sound Cloud and for downloading on CD Baby and ITunes. Let the breeze take you away!