Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Spotlight on Huma Rojo

Hey again people, I recently came across this band through a mutual friend, or actually another band which you may all know and love as Radioboxer, and I just thought I ought to turn the world onto them, because they're a really talented group of individuals that I personally like to listen to, and well... I know you all will too someday, so here's bringing you all a head start! What follows is an interview that I conducted via the web with Dámaris Vicke, lead singer/songwriter/bassist of the band Huma Rojo which are currently working on their debut album, which is due out any day now...

PS: First off, where does the name Huma Rojo mean? And who came up with the band's name?

DV: Huma Rojo is a character from a Spanish movie called Todo Sobre Mi Madre (All About My Mother) from director Pedro Almodóvar. Huma is a famous actress who is addicted to smoke, and her junky girlfriend. She also imitates Bette Davis (a Broadway 1940’s prima donna/starlet who smokes with abundance) and interprets Blanche DuBois from the classic 1947 flick A Streetcar Named Desire, which I have always loved.

DV: Javier and I came up with this name in 2006 when we started as a duo, since we have always been into films, and directors, and Almodovar is one of our favorite directors so Huma Rojo really touched us, and ever since then, we have been HUMA ROJO and kept this musical waves and vintage idea floating around us…

PS: Can you please let us know how many members are in your band, how did you all form, and how long has the band been together?

DV: We are a four piece. Well, HUMA ROJO as a duo, me and Javier three years nonstop, and with the new line up, (Daniella and Jonathan) I would exactly say a year, so that makes four years of Huma!

PS: From what I've heard, I'd say that the band is influenced by a combination of The Doors, Pink Floyd, and maybe a bit of Daft Punk and/or LadyTron... would I be right in this estimate? And as a follow up, can you please let us know what other artists, be they musical, visual, literary and/or otherwise; have an influence on you all as musicians?

DV: Actually, yes, we like those bands, especially Pink Floyd and The Doors. I just basically write my songs on the acoustic guitar, bass or keys, sometime lyrics and poems come first, so once I feel the song is kind of ready, you know, with a kind of blurry vision I bring the song to rehearsals, and we all begin experimenting and creating whatever sound we feel the song is asking for, we are not influenced by any bands in particular or music, we play whatever our ears want to hear in that moment. We listen to anything; we all have many different styles and tastes. This is what lately we have been around or listening to; there are also a few that have been influences for a while as well...

Reading: Everything from Hermann Hesse, to García Márquez, Octavio Paz, Asimov, bios, terror, etc.

Films: Movies, short films, art films, etc.

Paintings and personalities: Frida Kahlo

Music: Radiohead, Wilco, Granddaddy, Tujiko Noriko, Oddland, Pink Floyd, Santa Sabina, Café Tacuba, Happy Apple, Tosca Tango Orchestra, Caetano Veloso, Dave Brubeck Quartet, Tom Waits, Charles Mingus, Jaco Pastorius, Xiu Xiu, The Kills, Fiona Apple, Sigur Ros, The Lappetites, The Cure, Autolux, Stars, The Breeders, The Beach Boys, Diamanda Galas, Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, John Lennon, Jeff Buckley, One Ring Zero.

PS: Would you say that the style of music you play is ambient rock or psychedelic pop? What in your opinion would be the distinction between these two?

DV: I would say that we have a little bit of both, we have some ambient/experimental, and some psychedelic pop, however, I feel that the difference is not that big. I am a huge fan of John Cage, and I think he was considered an ambient music composer, and gave it the term of “experimental music” I consider ourselves to be a rock band now, even though we do have some elements of psychedelic music.

PS: Who is responsible for the lyrics in this group? Would you say it's a group effort, where each respective member contributes to the overall structure of the song, or does each member bring his or her own idea to the table while the rest of the band supports it?

DV: I compose all the songs and lyrics, I started this project with the purpose of wanting to play and sing my own music. Javier has always helped me from the beginning with arrangements, ideas, and lyrics as well; however, I usually bring the whole song almost finished, then each member contributes with their ideas and we each make arrangements. We all work on the songs until we are satisfied, although, we can never stop thinking of new ideas for the songs, especially now that we are recording our album. And yes, everyone brings ideas to the table, and if it works out and goes with the style, we all work on it together.

Huma Rojo Image

PS: What's your opinion about the local music scene? Do you think it could use some improvement, as far as wages for the bands that perform are concerned, or would you feel that it's normal for a band to pay their dues no matter how popular they get?

DV: I think there's a little bit of truth in both arguments, I have seen bands demanding bands to get paid even though they don’t bring no one to the shows, just as I have seen promoters book bands that fill the venues and pay them their fair share. In my opinion, it's just like everything else in life... where the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

The scene in Miami is extremely big, you will find amazing music and musicians if you search carefully, although to me in the end it's all a cottage scene, DJ’s are more admired thanks to the city’s lauded dance club scene, and sometimes bands are not treated the way they are supposed to, so we have to count on our devoted fans. I do feel that there should be more improvement as far as wages are concerned, if you are taking it seriously and being professional about it. And I do feel that it is okay for a band to pay their dues at he beginning of their career.

PS: Where do you see the band Huma Rojo headed years on down the line? Would you say that the band has long staying power, or a very short shelf life?

DV: I think this is just the beginning for all of us, even though we all have been through a lot, we respect each other very much and most important, we enjoy working with each other to the max. We are all very good friends and admire our work, so I say you will have some Huma for a while! [laughs]

PS: Tell us a bit about your new debut album... are you excited about the prospect? Who are you recording the album with at the moment?

DV: Well, it is a beautiful experience! For Daniella and I, it will be our first album ever, although we have both worked with many reputed musicians and recorded in other projects... but this is amazing, we are having a blast and such an awesome time. And we all became really good friends. We are recording our album with Producer and Engineer Doc Wiley, who is an amazing person that has always helped and supported us ever since I started with the idea of recording my solo album, which never happened... [laughs] but is now totally blooming!

PS: Can you explain how the recording process is like? For instance, how do you know when a song is finished versus just your typical run-of-the-mill demo reel?

DV: This is a hard question because music is like the ocean, it has no end, and if you go deeper and deeper, you will find yourself with different physiognomies, so sometimes it is better to give it a rest. Just like Da Vinci said: "Art is never finished, only abandoned."

PS: What's it like for you all as performers? Do you feel more at home experimenting in the studio, or would you say that live performances bring out the best in your prowess as musicians?

DV: I think this is kind a bit like Sophie's Choice, but if I had to choose one, I guess I would go with the studio first, because that’s were you create and ideas are born, is practically the birth place of the song. However, we love playing live. I guess it is really like thirst and hunger, you cannot satisfy either one of the two... the energy you get from the people, is nothing that can be recreated in terms of feeling. Playing live and getting the feedback from the crowd is totally ecstatic!

PS: Do you consider yourselves to be more visual in the band's presentation/live act, or is it all just straight ahead music?

DV: We are all about music, so that is our first priority...however, we do know that there are some visual elements that play a big role on our live performances, so we try to have fun and make it interesting to the audience members. Things like mannequins, flowers, and candles on stage are part of our shows; we feel it helps set the mood, and get a clear visual picture of where we feel the music is leading us.

Well, there you have it folks, Dámaris Vicke, one fourth of the creative element behind the ambient experimental pop rock outfit by the name of Huma Rojo that hails from Miami Beach, Fl. Do yourself a favor and check out this band, for your ears will thank you for it!

This has been P.S. Elliott (AKA: Dr. Gonzo XXVII) reporting for the disassociated press, that is... The Gnoyze Guitar Mods & More Web Blog.

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