The wait is over. Alternative Cumbia band Frontera Bugalú, the Latin-based powerhouse founded by veteran musicians Kiko Rodriguez-Glenn and Joel Osvaldo, is releasing its second album Alma de Jaguar May 6. To amp up energy for the new record, the band is throwing a CD Release Party at Tricky Falls, May 6 at 8 p.m.
The album was written and arranged by Rodriguez-Glenn, Osvaldo, and local DJ Julio Salgado, who goes by his stage name, Birth DFX, over a summer. Rodriguez-Glenn had specific musicians in mind when the songs were being written; therefore, the following summer he road tripped to California and New Mexico to seek out particular veteran players to track specific parts.
The record is a brilliant blend of the band’s signature cumbia, son, salsa, and mambo sound. Each of the 10 songs is evidence of the experience and versatility of the musicians. Alma de Jaguar is fresh and diverse, and sure to get your nalgas moving!
We had the opportunity to speak with Kiko Rodriguez-Glenn about the making of Alma de Jaguar and his return to the El Paso music scene.
What is this album about?
Perseverance and survival on the border. both spiritually and physically. connecting to our roots and our grandmothers, their advice and wisdom about life. Connecting to our Native American past, represented by the jaguar. no matter who we are at our jobs, school, group of friends, we all have the rich heritage of belonging to the original families that inhabited this area.
Is there a central theme?
Alma de Jaguar, a spiritual point that anyone can find in themselves. This album is about believing in yourself and exploring whats in you, instead of always looking outside of yourself, money, power, status for happiness.
This album is much more mature than the last one, as I took almost a year alone just to write down basic ideas and another year or two to produce the right sounds.
What was your muse?
Things that were happening to me personally took on the shapes of songs after a while. I also wrote about those around me. It is a very personal album. “Pueblo Sometido” is about the city erecting the conquistador statue at the airport and how betrayed many of us felt, as we consider the native history of El Paso part of us. “Oscuridad” is about the mistakes and the dark places we all go to in different stages of our life. etc.
Is this album a continuation from your first album or is it distinctly different? If so, how is it different?
I chose different instrumentation on this album, focusing more on piano and accordion. The group is being rebuilt as I left to do other projects for a few years. This album is much more mature than the last one, as I took almost a year alone just to write down basic ideas and another year or two to produce the right sounds. We still sound the same, but better hopefully.
How is it similar?
It is still very rootsy music. I could see this stuff playing in a club or at your grandmas house. I am still very focused on making music for all the generations. I believe there is a strong connection between all of us, especially in El Paso.
Who contributed to the making of the album?
Props to Joel Osvaldo and Dj Birth DFX for helping me write and arrange it. Fabian Martinez of Kill Media produced it for me in California. Marco Ramirez of elpapadelcrio.com and Sonic Ranch mixed and mastered. They all played crucial roles in it’s various phases and each time someone would work on it just get better and better.
Many of my musician friends chipped in, coming by the studios to drop tracks. I felt really blessed, they are the best at what they do.
Where did you record?
El Paso, Bay area, Los Angeles, and Albuquerque.
I could see this stuff playing in a club or at your grandmas house. I am still very focused on making music for all the generations.
How will you release the music? Digitally? Vinyl? Where can people find your album?
The album will be available digitally on bandcamp as of May 6th. There will be a special vinyl pressing of only 120 that will be made and we are still taking orders for. Check our facebook bandpage for details facebook.com/fronterabugalu
Who created the album artwork?
You recently held a fundraiser to raise money to complete the recording of the album. Can you tell me a little about that?
Yes, we put the album on indiegogo in order to complete production costs. Albums are very expensive and we couldn’t have done it without the support of 52 fans that contributed. We matched those funds with the ones we had been saving and in-kind contributions from many of the musicians and producers. It really did take a team of people to do this.
Will you tour?
Yes, we will be touring throughout the Southwest and Mexico this year.
Who plays in the live version of Frontera?
The El Paso line-up on May 6th will be the best as we are having many of the people who worked on the album. Tania Rodriguez, my sister, and lead singer for FUGA! will be singing that night. Rafael Herrera will be on drums. We will also have special guests Leo Martinez, guitarist and singer for Los Chamucos as well as FUGA!, and Amalia Mondragon, singer for Las Chamanas, as well as a veteran from the old Frontera line-up. Jim Ward is doing us the honor of opening up the show. Its going to be great.
Photos courtesy of Heriberto Ibarra