We're dedicating this month's Local 303 to Latin Heritage Month, which runs from Sept. 15 - Oct. 15. It was first established in the 1960s under President Lyndon Johnson as a week to celebrate and honor the history of Latin culture, and in 1988 it became recognized as a month-long event.
The contributions by Latin artists and bands from Colorado can be heard every hour throughout the month as we share some of our state's most recognized artists. This group ranges from familiar names like iZCALLi and 2MX2 to emerging voices Eric & Kah Li and The Mañanas. The latter band is a side-project of Danny Pauta from Neoma who is originally from Ecuador.
We also welcome Pueblo's Inaiah Lujan, a solo artist who is also known for his work in bands like The Haunted Windchimes and Mike Clark and the Sugar Sounds. Colorado Springs native Nina de Freitas returns to the Local 303 as well as rising pop singers Jessica Jimenez and Lolita. The local music scene is very collaborative and Lolita is also a part of 2MX2.
Los Mocochetes and Cikatriz bring influences from Mexico while Pink Hawks and Don Chicharrón draw musical inspirations from all over Latin America.
For more Latin music exploration, listen weekly to Especial on Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. The program focuses on new, independent, and local Latin music, with a mix of rock, hip-hop, pop, and traditional styles from around the Americas, hosted by Bruce Trujillo.
Are you a Colorado musician who wants to be featured in the Local 303? Send us your music.
Meet September's picks:
Hometown: Denver & Zacatecas, Mexico
Formed: 2MX2 began in 2012 but the current band came together in 2019.
Latest Release: "Elevator" feat. Aja Black of The Reminders , self released, Aug. 27, 2020
About: The Denver-based Latino pop/hip-hop group comes from a legacy of battle rapping and cipher slinging. They're now radio friendly up-and-comers who are sounding off without losing an ounce of their bravado.
Comprised of rappers Juice El Tio Hugo and O1 along with singer Lolita and producer DMD, 2MX2 have captured a widely dynamic cohesion within their sound. Their sonic backbone, DMD, boasts production credits with Bone Thugz n Harmony, Dizzy Wright and Ying Yang Twins. Juice El Tio Hugo and O1 effortlessly trade verses, reminiscent of their days as battle rappers and Lolita, a rising singer in her own right, provides the icing on the cake — the Fergie if you will, to the band’s Black Eyed Peas.
2MX2 thrive in creating content that focuses on identity and fostering community. Their involvement with local youth groups and their outreach with school programs, pushing diversity within the arts, seeks to extend that vision.
Kori Hazel of 303 Magazine says, “2MX2’s well-crafted pop/hip-hop songs cast aside any notion of a language barrier and at the same time embodies the culture in an accessible way."
How has the global pandemic affected you: This global pandemic has forced us to get to know ourselves more than anything. We have not only learned who we truly are and what we truly want to do with our lives as musicians and artists, but it has also taught us the things we need to work on and spend time on.
For example, we learned how precious our art truly is and how we must give it the love and support that it deserves. In March we were rushing to meet our deadline of finishing our album for our record release that was scheduled to happen at Ophelia's alongside Pink Hawks and Los Mocochetes. It felt like we were all rushing to finish a product. When the pandemic hit, it was like a sign from the universe to take our time and make sure we don't rush the art. We decided to shift gears and carefully release each song when we felt it was ready rather than hurry it up just to have it all in an album that may have been put out prematurely.
We took time with each song and have been releasing each song when we felt the world needed it, like our most recent release "Elevator," featuring the beautiful voice of Aja Black of The Reminders, one of our favorite groups from here.
We've all been going through ups and downs like an elevator and we wanted to put a song out that people can relate to right now. This song specifically talks about when Juice (one of the two founding members of 2MX2) became ill with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia in 2010. That was the point when we both decided to go for our dreams full-time and we've been doing that ever since. Those were the early roots of our now dream team band 2MX2. Thankfully, removing stress and doing what we love healed Juice enough to go into remission and be cancer free for the past 9 years.
We decided to release this song now hopefully to inspire a similar path for others who have a dream that maybe they've been putting off for way too long. Now during this pandemic when many of us have had near death experiences due to COVID-19 or any other illness with complications, we can hopefully give this song enough exposure to convince our listeners to do what they love.
Check out the song when you have a moment. It's a beautiful masterpiece that our producer DMD really put his heart and soul into, that we authentically were able to be ourselves in and Aja completed the amazing message with her beautiful voice.
Lastly, the pandemic has shifted our gears to master the art of livestreaming our performances to adapt to the social distancing restrictions the whole world is facing, especially in music. Over the past two months we have been rehearsing and offering free livestreams directly from our website, Facebook and Youtube channels. Thanks to the Juneteenth Music Festival, which our band member Owen Trujillo helped transition to a virtual platform, we've been able to use their livestream channel to provide our fans with a fully interactive livestreamed performance. Our first one was on July 30th and our second was on August 27th, the same day we released our new single.
We hope we can continue to evolve and adapt into this new, hopefully temporary, world post COVID-19 by still being able to connect with our fans through our music. Maybe this is a new beginning, a new way of finally giving our fans a chance to get to know us better than they were able to before. One can only hope for the best nowadays.
Latest Release: "Angelical" (Single), Sesiones Rock Music, Jan. 6, 2020
About: Cikatriz is a Spanish Indie Alternative Rock band formed in 2005 in Denver. It was founded by brothers Ivan and Jose Tamayo, Miguel Castellanos and Victor Hurtado.
Ivan, Jose, Miguel and Victor have known each other since they were very young. They grew up together in Los Reyes, Michoacán Mexico. Driven by their passion for music, they learned to play different instruments with a goal to form a band. It was not until they arrived in Denver did this happen.
They began to practice in a garage and started creating their own lyrics and songs. Along the way, they met Arturo Sanchez, who offered his unique talent on the synthesizer, and was invited to be a member of the band.
Each member has a distinctive style and when brought together it creates Cikatriz. All members are self-taught musicians, songwriters, composers, and producers of their own music.
To date they have released two full-length albums, several singles, and a few live albums.
How has the global pandemic affected you: Prior to the pandemic, we had released two new singles and have several concerts planned to promote our new music. Unfortunately, we had to cancel all shows due to the pandemic. We practice on a weekly basis creating new music but also postponed practices due to the pandemic.
Latest Release: "Valle b/w En La Gruta Del Rey De La Montaña" 7" Vinyl Released on January 10th, 2020
Don Chicharrón plays and pays homage to Chicha, the sonic result of Peruvian artists mixing the various aural stylings of their day: ‘60s psychedelia, Andean traditional folk melodies, and Afro-Cuban cumbia rhythms. Formed by Peruvian-American, Aldo Pantoja, Don Chicharrón filters its brand of Chicha through the songwriting influences of its 8 other members, giving its self-titled debut LP touches of punk, surf, prog, jazz, reggaetón, and salsa.
Live, Don Cheech invites audiences to get tangled up in a canopy of trippy guitarwork, shuffle to mesmerizing synth-play and shout celebratory chants. Based in Denver, CO, the band and its kind of cumbia is as influenced by the spaghetti western sounds of its Rocky Mountain deserts as it is by the Amazonian jungles and coastal cities that created Chicha. All are welcome to liberate their hips at the Don Cheech discoteca.
How has the global pandemic affected you:
Since the pandemic hit, Don Cheech has hunkered down and we have stayed at home with our familias. We have had a few opportunities to practice and jam together over the spring and summer. Thank you to Black in Bluhm Studios for letting us rent out their recording studio just so we can practice - with nine of us in the band, we need a lot of space to practice safely.
We had a few digital releases like a cover of Selena's "La Carcacha" and a fan favorite "El Diablo" during the pandemic, but our main focus has been to continue to sell our 7" vinyl record to continue to fundraise for both Casa De Paz and the Metro Denver Sanctuary Coalition. We have been fortunate enough to continue to use our music to support these important non-profits during these crazy times. Personally, many of us in the band are essential workers, teachers, and working in marketing and media. All of us have been lucky to be able to continue to work and give time to our loved ones that are closest to us. All of us are safe and currently doing well.
Eric & Kah Li
Hometown: Aurora, Colo.
Latest Release: "Jelly" (Single), Self-Release, June 21, 2020
About: Eric & Kah Li have been a Colorado duo for two years. They're currently working on an EP called "Popular," which will include a variety of songs that will showcase their musical and vocal abilities in different types of musical moods.
How has the global pandemic affected you: Due to COVID-19 our chances to publicly perform ended. As musicians we speak our journeys through music, and through this we hope that our listener will find healing.
Hometown: Pueblo, Colo.
Latest Release: "I Wanna Love You” (Single), Blank-Tape Records, Aug. 8, 2020 and “From The Start” (Single), Blank Tape Records, Sept. 9, 2020
About: Cathartic and heartbreaking at times, Lujan's songs and performances are raw, vulnerable and dynamic. A gentle yet powerful voice, vivid songwriting and an understated mastery of the electric guitar is juxtaposed by sample-based looping and electronic elements.
Lujan croons and swoons, winning hearts and praises of crowds everywhere. Drawing inspiration from 50's & 60's rock and pop, R&B, soul and hip-hop, Lujan's music would feel right at home on a playlist with artists like Devendra Banhart, Dirty Projectors and Michael Kiwanuka. From intimate house concerts to large festival stages, Lujan has spent over a decade on the road and continues to grow his community one town and one show at a time.
How has the global pandemic affected you: Aside from the financial hit I took due to mass tour and concert cancellations, the pandemic has been a positive and welcomed break from my usual hustle and bustle as full-time musician, offering me a chance to do some inner work and self reflection. I’ve focused my energies on my mental and physical health, and have reignited my love for reading and learning about metaphysical and esoteric concepts and philosophies. Luckily, work as a graphic designer has picked up quite a bit and I’ve had the honor of working with musicians on album art, merchandise etc. This time has benefited me greatly in my steps towards a centered and grounded life. I’m still creating and and playing music that I share on occasion via social media and streaming outlets like Spotify.
Get Social: Instagram, Facebook, YouTube
Latest Release: "Casa de Papel", RETI, May 11, 2019
About: iZCALLi makes the kind of music you leave home to: melancholy folk phrases lashed to driving beats that pin the pedal to the floor — that Molotov of nostalgia and exhilaration, the immigrant song. iZCALLi is named for the Mexican birthplace of member-siblings Miguel (lead guitar/vocals) and Brenda Avina (bass) and the Nahuatl word for rebirth. Born on both sides of the border (drummer Luiggy Ramirez hails from Colorado) and formed in Denver 15 years ago, iZCALLi has, over the course of five LPs and thousands of shows, swigged its evolving sound from both wells of tradition, from Latin-tinged echoes to punching rock to filthy blues, in English and in Español. The result is iZCALLi: the music of the melting pot, which is deeply American and knows no frontiers, making waves and building bridges along the way through exhilarating live shows that celebrate tradition and kin, creating music that unites what you find with what you left behind, and opens the heart, so you know you are home.
Band Website: www.izcallirock.com
Get Social: Facebook, Instagram, YouTube
Latest Release: "Who Am I" (Single), Self-Released, March 15, 2020
About: Jessica Jimenez is a passionate American singer-songwriter of R&B and pop music. Her first single “That's Her” was released in 2017, and launched her career in her hometown. The song gained traction and saw streaming success as well as local airplay on 107.1. She had her first live performance in Denver later that year at The Roxy Theater.
How has the global pandemic affected you: Right now I’m going through my own transition and finding who it is I am. I'm focusing on myself, getting a clear mindset and overall vision of myself and who I am as a person and artist. I’m happy right now with myself and my growth. I’m writing new music and, hopefully, by late fall, maybe early winter, I’ll be back in the studio to make my creativity come to life. I know for a fact it’s going to be great because I feel true to myself. My music will be authentic because what I’m writing now makes me feel light ... whatever’s that means. But what I’m really looking forward to is Summer of 2021. It's a year that been on my mind since March of this year. It's just a feeling I have. All I know is I’m ready for life's adventure.
Latest Release: "Toda Mi Gente (Remix), [Ft. Big Samir of The Reminders]," Self-Release, June 12, 2020
About: Lolita is a latin pop artist. Her latest release is called, "Toda Mi Gente (Remix),[ft. Big Samir of The Reminders].” It’s a Spanglish pop song about gun violence and police brutality. The song weaponizes joy through pop music and puts it to use in the fight for social justice. Lolita’s song “Toda Mi Gente,” has gained recognition in many of Colorado’s most notable music publications. The track was recognized in ‘Denver Westword,’ as the "Best Anti-fascist Anthem of 2019.” She was also a finalist in the International Songwriter Competition in 2019. Lolita is currently working on releasing more music.
How has the global pandemic affected you: In terms of my career, the pandemic has shifted my attention to live stream performances and has challenged me to get creative with the way I interact with my fans. A lot of the interactions with fans are through social media, which I am still working on getting a grasp on.
I’ve been allowing the experiences and atmosphere of 2020 to soak in. Though I haven’t been writing as much as I would hope to, I’m sure a spark will come out of nowhere as they do, and I’ll be able to put all my experiences and emotions surrounding this wild year into a creative work of art.
In my personal life, I’ve become a bit of a hermit. Going within reflecting and revisiting the things that I left hanging at home and within. I’ve been spending time in nature, reading, learning, gardening, enjoying my loved ones, meditating, sleeping, and cleaning.
Band Website: http://lolitamc.com
Formed: March 2016
Latest Release: "Rocks" (Single), Self-Release, July 2020
About: Los Mocochetes is a Xicanx/Funk band with a strong message of social justice wrapped up in a deliciously spicy taco that will make your feet move once you take even the tiniest bite. All members were born and raised in Denver and are living proof of indigenous resiliency in the face of historical, institutional attempts to eradicate our people and culture from the face of the earth. We walk in the footsteps of our ancestors and carry their prayers forward to our children and grandchildren for the next seven generations. In this way, every footstep, every dance, every song, every prayer is a symbol of resistance and strength of all our people have endured.
How has the global pandemic affected you: In a myriad of ways. Personally, several of our members have lost jobs due to the shutdown. One member's wedding had to be completely replanned. As a band, we had our entire summer cancelled -- dozens of performances which also translates to thousands in lost revenue for the band. Most of us are social animals and we thrive in a live setting. More than the money, we have missed connecting with audiences and spreading our message of love and hope in probably one of the darkest times of our lives.
However, we see how the isolation and frustration with our government's response to the COVID and racial injustice pandemics has led to people taking to the streets in the name of change. It's almost like we needed time to sit and think and be with ourselves to realize that we are the ones we have been waiting for, and the time for action is now.
Black Lives Matter and Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women need to be at the forefront of this conversation. These two pandemics have been around for 400 years and it's past time to address the root causes which also leaves black, brown and indigenous folks more exposed to COVID than our white counterparts.
Even though this has affected us mentally, spiritually, emotionally on many levels, it has been another chance to dive deep within to connect with each other in a new way, and to be reminded how precious and fleeting life is, and that it is more important than ever to have each other's backs.
Get Social: Instagram, Facebook
Hometown: Cuenca, Ecuador / Denver
Latest Release: "Cuando Quieres Jugar Conmigo (feat. Lolabúm)" (Single), Poli Music, July 24, 2020
About: Neoma has captivated music lovers all over the world with her dreamy yet energetic “Lunar Pop” hits. In 2017, Neoma hit the top of the Ecuadorian charts with her infectious single “Real." Since then, she’s played concerts to thousands of fans throughout the Americas.
In 2018, Neoma (Carla Huiracocha) relocated from Cuenca, Ecuador to Denver, along with producer/bassist Danny Pauta to focus on her music career.
In June 2019, Neoma released "Young," her first single as a resident of Denver.
Her debut album, "Real," was released in November 2019.
After the album release, Carla and Danny teamed up with local Denver musicians to form a live band. Levi Double U took over drumming duties while Aaron Wey of Civil Engineer joined on guitar. Neoma embarked on her first tour of the United States in February 2020.
The animated music video for “Himno” will be featured in the 43rd Denver Film Festival.
How has the global pandemic affected you: My tour was sadly cut short before I could appear at SXSW and Treefort, so that’s pretty sad. However, I’ve been able to collaborate with artists from back in Ecuador. So far in 2020, I’ve released singles with La Madre Tirana and Lolabúm. This month, I plan on releasing singles with rock band Alkaloides and rapper Metodo. I would like to collaborate with more Denver local musicians in the near future.
Nina de Freitas
Hometown: Colorado Springs, Colo.
Latest Release: "Keeps Me Coming Back," self-released, Dec. 6, 2019
About: After forming as Nina and The Hold Tight in 2017, Nina de Freitas currently records as a solo artist. As The Hold Tight their submission to the 2018 NPR Tiny Desk Contest resulted in a feature on the All Songs Considered blog. Following that, they performed a critically-hailed main stage set at Denver’s 2018 Underground Music Showcase.
Alex Kramer of 303 Magazine wrote of the band’s live set, “Through music, The Hold Tight supplies an inexplicable excitement and devotion that carries itself through your whole being.”
As a solo artist de Freitas continues writing and performing energetic and emotional songs, with the intention to elevate her listeners to a new level of feeling with every passionate note she plays.
Get Social: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter
Latest Release: "Elote" (Single), Snappy Little Numbers, June 2, 2020
About: Pink Hawks is an Afrobeat / Chicano Hip-Hop orchestra, playing original and future-traditional music to dance to. Local music scholar Tom Murphy states, "As much artistic revolutionaries as musicians, Pink Hawks bring the struggle for a more interesting world home to roost." In his
coverage of the Underground Music Showcase, Westword Magazine writer A.H. Goldstein paints a narrative: “I jostled through the crowd to find a spot at the front of the room. The effort was worth it. Pink Hawks' set was easily one of the most dynamic and infectious of the night.”
Their newest track, “Elote” narrates the struggle between the elotero (working-class) and the battle for legality and one’s humanity on stolen land. It's told through a cumbia/merengue infused sonic-scape. It is a donation-based track with all proceeds benefiting Casa de Paz, a Denver organization that reunites families separated by immigrant detention.
Preferred Band Website URL: https://pinkhawks.bandcamp.com
Get Social: Instagram, Facebook
Latest Release: "Time Slot" (Single), Soundbreaker Records, July 17, 2020
About: The Mañanas is an alternative rock project hailing from Denver. After years of songwriting on his own, lead singer/guitarist/songwriter and project brainchild Brandon Upingco teamed up with producer Danny Pauta in 2019 to lay down the foundation of the musical project that today is known as The Mañanas. The project’s debut single, "Patiently," was released in April 2020 and is packed with fun choruses, jangly guitars, and low-yet-also-hi-fi production. "Time Slot," The Mañanas’s latest single, also has a music video where the Mañanas go on a wild car chase.
How has the global pandemic affected you: We started The Mañanas with our driving focus being live performances. It’s a shame that we haven’t been able to perform our live act yet with the COVID situation. We wanted to work our way up to playing in the Underground Music Showcase this year. We can’t wait to be able to perform to a live audience soon!
Get Social: Instagram
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