The Local 303: Colorado Artists We’re Featuring For Latin Heritage Month September 2021

We're once again curating September's Local 303 to showcase our Latin music scene. Latin Heritage Month runs from Sept. 15 - Oct. 15 and 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. 

For more Latin music exploration, listen weekly to Especial on Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. and an encore re-airing on Sunday's from 6-7 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.

Are you a Colorado musician who wants to be featured in the Local 303? Send us your music.

Meet September's picks:

Fruta Brutal

Photo: Andrés Better

Hometown: Boulder, Colorado. Born in Ecuador

Formed: 2018

Latest Release:
If We Never Touch the Ground, Self-Released, June 10, 2021

Pronouns: My (Martín) pronouns are he/him/his.

About: Fruta Brutal emerged as the result of Martín Better Longo's search for a musical identity as an Ecuadorian who immigrated to the U.S. at a young age. During his college years, spent in the bustling music scene of New Orleans and extensively traveling through South America, Martín was exposed to music that would inspire his indie Latin rock pop repertoire and the artistic name, Fruta Brutal. A tribute to musical movements that emerge in response to times of authoritarian oppression, the name "Fruta Brutal" calls to mind cultural fruits that ripen in brutal conditions, emblematic of the resiliency of the Brazilian Tropicália movement and the Argentinian rock movement, among others.

Since returning to Colorado, Martín continues to record original compositions in English, Spanish, and Spanglish which celebrate cultural diversity and showcase his support for fellow immigrants. Martín is currently working remotely with New Orleans-based producers and instrumentalists, while performing with a Colorado-based quartet.

In response to the disorientation and stagnancy brought on by the pandemic, Fruta Brutal's latest single "If We Never Touch the Ground" summons the image of a matador as a symbol for choosing to boldly face fear and adversity in pursuit of one’s dreams.

Musicians That Inspire: Tame Impala, Caetano Veloso, Måneskin, Kali Uchis, St. Vincent, Jeff Buckley, Andrew Bird, Devendra Banhart

Do you feel like lockdown has shaped you as a musician/band? If so, how: The lockdown forced me to begin recording my own music on Ableton. I learned how to make amateur beats, record guitar, synth, and vocals and send all the tracks over to drummers for professional tracking and producers for mixing and mastering. The lockdown also provided an opportunity for me to develop Fruta Brutal's brand and get more engaged in marketing, especially via Instagram. I have connected with many people from Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, and Chile who now make up the larger part of my social media following and fanbase.

What's next?: I will be recording and releasing a two volume album with a hybrid production approach. Though we will continue working remotely throughout the next year, my producer Mack Major and I will finally have the chance to work in-person in New Orleans for a few in-studio sessions. Upon release of the two volume album, Fruta Brutal will begin touring around the U.S. and eventually South America.


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Gabriel Albelo

Photo: Heidi Morgan

Hometown: Caguas, Puerto Rico

Formed: Playing my own music since 2005

Latest Release: Midnight Temples, Self-Released, Sept. 1, 2021 

Pronouns: He/Him

About: Gabriel Albelo is a Puerto Rican artist based in Denver. He recorded his first solo debut album, a mixture of glam/psych/folk rock recorded onto 4-track cassette in 2020 during lockdown due to the pandemic. His new album "Midnight Temples" comes out September 1st. Gabriel explores new songwriting territories with extended song lengths, guitar instrumentals, short pummeling fuzzed out tracks and even a bit of drum machine chucked in on this new record all recorded onto 4 track cassette as the usual modus-operandi. 

Musicians that inspire: Robert Fripp and traditional music from India, Middle East, Britain. 

Do you feel like lockdown has shaped you as a musician/band? If so, how: I would say lockdown gave me the time to gain more experience recording by myself. I recorded all the instruments on the album which helped me feel more confident with the whole process of recording in the end. 

As the community opens up, what's next?: I'm currently working on a new release slated for a late 2021 release. The music is a bit more adventurous and there's a lot of variety in it, all recorded onto 4-track cassette again. Hope people like it!

Websites: https://gabrielalbelo.bandcamp.com

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Julian St. Nightmare

Photo: Estevan Ruiz

Hometown: Denver, CO

Formed: Julian St. Nightmare was formed in early 2018 by members Jesus Arellanes (nicknamed Chico) and Rodolfo Morales (nicknamed Rudy) alongside a few other friends who eventually had to quit the band to pursue other artistic interests. Member Genevieve Fulton joined during the summer of 2018, and we all developed songs and jammed a lot for fun in the coming years. Guitarist Sergio Castorena joined in January 2020, and drummer Tanner Garren joined in the summer of 2020 and around that time is when we truly worked on developing our sound.

Latest Release: In June 2021, we released our two singles titled "Knot" and "Gaga" just before our debut show on 6/17/2021 at the Lost Lake Lounge. The songs were recorded by our friend Jason Principi from the band The Amphibious Man through his music production studio called Tomb Tone. He recorded the songs in February of 2021 using a tape machine to get a rich analog sound. Our friend Alex Gonzales also made incredible cover art for both singles! The songs are self-released.

Pronouns: They/Them

About: Julian St. Nightmare is dark yet dancey, Post-Punk inspired five-piece from Denver. We describe ourselves as "Donnie Darko meets Weezer" or "The Korn of E-Boys." Our name comes from the fact that two of the members, Genevieve and Chico both grew up in West Denver off of Julian St. The "nightmare" part comes from the name of one of the first songs we made as a band, titled "Cocaine Nightmares."

Musicians who inspire us: We are all big fans of late 70's-early 80's Post-Punk, such as Joy Division, Siouxie and the Banshees, The Cure, Gang of Four, and Christan Death. The album "Garlands" by Cocteau Twins is another big influence for us, especially the bass and guitar tones used. We also love 90's shoegaze, and the heavy chorus and reverb from that era influence us greatly. Modern Darkwave bands such as TR/ST, Boyharsher, and She Past Away also have inspired some of our darker and dancey songs, as well as our vocals.

Do you think lockdown has shaped you as a musician or band? Lockdown has definitely helped to shape us as a band. During the beginning of lockdown, around March/April many of us wrote songs on our own. During the summer, we became each other's lockdown group and would meet up safely to work on songs. Around that time is when we not only developed new songs such as "Gaga" (one of the singles we released) and "Stained Glass", but we also honed in on and perfected songs we had already made such as "Knot" (another one of our singles released) and "Cocaine Nightmares". We will often bring a laptop to practice with a song idea recorded on Ableton, and we will loop the riff or chord progression and collectively come up with ideas. Lockdown gave us the time and space to really figure out what we wanted to do as a band, and we came out of it strong with our successful debut show at the Lost Lake Lounge in mid June.

What's Next: Coming up next, we have two more singles being released in mid September of this year by the names of "Vividly" and "Witch". They were recorded by Carmine Francis, and we're very excited about them! The songs are part of a collaboration we're doing with popular Contemporary Denver artist Julio Alejandro and he's in the process of making us some cover art pieces. We are also a part of the UMS this year which we can't be more stoked about. We also have some one of a kind hand-made shirts as well as screen printed shirts which will be for sale at our future shows as well as through our Instagram!

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Hometown: Born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico and moved to Denver, Colo. in 2019.

Formed: Quarantine 2020!

Latest Release: La Tentación EP, Self-Released, 2021

About: I began to participate in public performances at 8 years of age. From local talent shows, acting school, and dance academy, while writing my own songs. At age 16, I was accepted into the School for the Performing Arts in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, and San Juan Drama Club, where I began to perform in the biggest theaters around the island. In 2011, I was selected to be the host of a televised talent program with more than 4,000 attendees and over 18 acts, while having 3 performances on the same night. During my last year of high school, I participated in the school talent show with over 2,000 attendees and received 1st prize in the singing category. 

I decided to pursue my music career further in 2020. During the COVID-19 pandemic, I taught myself about music productions and studied the music closely. I couldn't believe the amount of attention my first single''Mientes'' got. That's when I knew that I couldn't let the music go again.

Musicians That Inspire: Paloma Mami, iLe, Becky G

Do you feel like lockdown has shaped you as a musician/band? If so, how: I became the singer, songwriter, composer and producer for a lot of my songs. I learned about music production and composition at every level. A year ago, I would only dream of having my music played worldwide, and now I can't believe I finally have singles and an EP out! Lockdown was the reason that I got out of my comfort zone and started living my dream. 

What's next?: I've been working on so many new projects these past months so there is definitely new music coming out pretty soon. But I'm also trying to get myself out there and perform live as much as I can. I would love to have some collaboration with other Latin artists as well.

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Photo: Lisa Siciliano

Hometown: Denver


Latest Release: Creatures of Habit, Self-Released, Jul. 6, 2019

Pronouns: They/them

 Kiltro is the project of Chilean-American singer songwriter Chris Bowers Castillo. Conceived in the lively, bohemian port city of Valparaiso, Chile, Kiltro draws much of its thematic energy from Latin-American folk artists like Victor Jara, Atahualpa Yupanqui, and Inti-Illimani, making for an emotive and stylistically unique merging of older genres with contemporary ones.

As the community opens up, what's next?: After a long 16 months in quarantine, we’re excited to be on the books for a variety of shows and festivals and will soon be announcing more dates.  We’re also deep in the recording process, having just tracked drums for a handful songs, and are ready to get out there and adapt them for the stage.  I’m proud of what we’re working on, as it has been an interchangeably challenging and cathartic process this time around given the pandemic.  

Band Website:

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Leon de las Florez

Photo: Anthony Maze

Hometown: From North Denver Colorado

Formed: Band since 2018

Latest Release: "Sunshine into your light," Self-Release, Mar. 12, 2021

Pronouns: He/Him/El

About: Born and raised in North Denver, Colorado going back and forth to Juarez, Chihuahua to visit his mother. Poet Artist Musician Educator and Builder, Diego Florez is a full time creative. Many mediums keep Diego busy. Leon de las Florez is a solo project labor of pure love and connection to self, our outside world and the source that fuels it all to create a sonic experience of multi genre arrangements and politically poetic lyrics. All the parts written and played by Florez has pushed his understanding of composition and arrangement. With the freedom to create what the heart desires, possibilities are endless and limitless. 

Musicians That Inspire: Stevie Wonder, Gil Scott-Heron, Freddie Hubbard, Funkadelic, Fazer, Combo Chimbita, Mars Volta, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Black Sabbath, The Adicts, The Cure, Carlos Santana, Little Joe &La Familia, War, El Chicano, Malo, Jimi Hendrix 

Do you feel like lockdown has shaped you as a musician/band? If so, how: I moved to Taos, New Mexico for about 9 months and had the opportunity to create out there. Experiencing ancient ways and how they have made it into todays everyday walk. 

What's next?: I am releasing a single September 16th for day of Mexican independence.


Kevin Hernandez
Photo: Kevin Vrai

Hometown: Denver

Formed: 2019

Latest Release: "PIRANA (feat. Deuce Eclipse, 2MX2, & Debajo Del Agua)” Self-Release, Aug. 27, 2021

Pronouns: She/her

About: Lolita studied music at the University of Colorado & graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Music Business & Entertainment Industry Studies in the fall of 2015. She has performed her music in numerous venues & festivals in and around her home state of Colorado. One of Lolita’s most popular releases to date is a song titled “Toda Mi Gente (Remix),” with over 130,000 streams on Spotify and over 10,000 views on YouTube. Lolita’s latest single is titled PIRAÑA feat. Deuce Eclipse, 2MX2, & Debajo Del Agua. The single addresses how the neo-liberal social/economic conditions of many South American countries produce circumstances where street kids (called Pirañas in Peru & Colombia) must become like “Pirañas” to survive. The street kids come together in solidarity and they survive by means of hustling in the streets, pick-pocketing or even violently robbing people. The use of the word “Piraña” acts as a visual representation of the simultaneous harshness & beauty of the street kids. Lolita plans on releasing more music by the end of 2021. You can stay up to date on Lolita’s latest music releases, videos, events & more by following her on social media @lolitaworldwide.

Musicians that inspire you: In no particular order here are some of the musicians that inspire me; Residente, Missy Elliot, Celia Cruz, Selena, OutKast, J Cole, Kanye West, Amy Winehouse, Sade, The Reminders, Erykah Badu, SiR, Kendrick Lamar, Tyler The Creator, lil Wayne, Timbaland, Raury, Glass Animals, Jimmi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Cher, Etta James, Lauryn hill, Michael Jackson

Do you feel like lockdown has shaped you as a musician/band? Lockdown affected my personal life which in-turn had a positive domino effect in many areas of my life including my career as a musician. I had more time to be within and grew a better innerstanding of myself. I finally took action towards many passions I had shelved, I got the push I needed to become a more sovereign individual. I was able to find my center and take action towards aligning myself with my authenticity and wholeness. It opened the door to refining my goals and purpose by balancing the things I gave my time and energy to.

Whats Next: I have new singles being prepared for release before 2022. New merchandise in the works. A vinyl of "Toda Mi Gente" is being discussed, & new music videos & songs are being manifested. 


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Los Mocochetes

Courtesy of the artist
Photo: Robert Castro

Hometown: Denver

Formed: March 2016

Pronouns: They/them

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.


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Machu Linea

Photo: Otter J

Hometown: Colorado Springs / Durango / Pueblo

Formed: 2016

Latest Release: "HeXotica," Self-Released, Oct. 22, 2020

Pronouns: He/him

With roots in Mexican folkloric dancing and 10+ years producing for artists in a wide variety of genres, Machu Linea brings together an eclectic mix of artists to create a sound that is unique, bold, and sweaty. 

Machu Linea is a producer based music project from Armando Garibay that started in 2016. The project is a love letter to House, R&B, Electronic, and Latin music with a psychedelic pulse. Armando has been an active participant in the Denver music scene for the last 11 years...having worked as half of the production/songwriting duo of The Blackout Beat and producer for three albums from the Electronic/Pop collective The Circus House.

Two years after the release of the genre defying album, GIRL, Machu Linea returns to the Denver music scene with a new LP, HeXotica, that continues the sonic journey started by GIRL. The album is a sonic journey of sensuality and self discovery...set to a unique sound that blends psychedelic R&B, Hip-Hop, Latin and Pop. Sometimes experimental, HeXotica creates soundscapes built on heavy drums, spacey synths, and textures that propel the listener to a place where their wildest fantasies are made real...or so it seems. Some of the featured artists range from the experimental Hip-Hop of Rare Bryd$, the spacey R&B of Kid Astronaut, to the Electronic ambient drones of Shocker Mom. Local Drag artists, Reprobabe and Lisa Frank Sïxsïxsïx also make notable appearances on the album. 

Named as one of 303 Magazine's "14 LGBTQ Artists You Should Know," and nominated for "Best R&B" in the Westword's Music Awards, Machu Linea is looking forward to recording with more Denver artists as well as more live performances. 

Musicians That Inspire: Some of the musicians that have inspired me are Aaliyah, The Neptunes, Timbaland, Missy Elliott, Leon Vynehall, Prince, and Bomba Estereo. 

What's next?: Machu Linea is performing 9/17/2021 for the Westword Music Showcase and the QMUNITY Party in downtown Lafayette 9/25/2021

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The Mañanas

Hometown: Denver, CO

Formed: 2019

Latest Release: Cheers, Soundbreaker Records, Feb. 19, 2021

Pronouns: They/them

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 Unpingco 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. The group's debut album, "Cheers" was released February 2021. The album includes collaborations with musicians from Denver (Civil Engineer on "Lucia") and Ecuador (Nockah & Agustin Rodas on "Back to U").  

Musicians That Inspire: 
The Mañanas take inspiration from the mellow classics of the 60's and the current Latin indie scene. We've curated a playlist that includes some of our favorite tunes that inspired us during the making of Cheers. Check out The Mañanas Jams on Spotify.

Do you feel like lockdown has shaped you as a musician/band? We started The Mañanas during the pandemic with our driving focus being live performances. It's been so great to finally be out playing live shows this summer in front of audiences again. Seeing people dance and enjoy our music has made all of those months of grinding from home worth it.

What's next?: We are playing our first headlining at the Hi-Dive on Saturday, September 4th! We are SO hyped for this performance! We've been working on some new songs and have quite a bit of surprises to show at this show. We are also back to writing and recording new music, so we will have new Ma Jams out for 2022!


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Nina de Freitas

Hometown: Colorado Springs, Colo.

Formed: 2017

Latest Release: Fractures, release 06/18/2021

Pronouns: She/her

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.

Musicians That Inspire:  Jeff Buckley, Fiona Apple, Kate Bush, Cocteau Twins, Radiohead, Joni Mitchell, The National 

Do you feel like lockdown has shaped you as a musician/band? I feel my songwriting has expanded in a way I never imagined it could as far as exploring different concepts and exposing my inner world and thoughts in more vulnerable yet succinct ways. The ever changing variables of the world and the music scene has provoked an urgency to seek and understand more which has definitely changed how I approach and create music.

What's next?: My EP is almost finished! Also, I’m excited to be playing Westword Music Showcase on September 17!

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Photo: Josue Rivas

Hometown: Boulder, Colo.

Formed: 2014

Pronouns: He/him

Latest Release: "Take It All Back" (Single), Self-Release, May 14, 2021

About: Pushing the envelope on what hip-hop can look and sound like, Xiuhtezcatl’s message and depth transcends his mere twenty-one years on the planet, yet is still packed with all the hard-hitting grit that appeals to today’s generation of listeners. His rhyme scheme is raw and quick-witted. His thought-provoking lyrics are anchored by the Mexica roots on his father's side and the environmental justice work his mother raised him in.

X is breaking onto the scene, not only as a musician, but also as an activist, a model, an entrepreneur, and a cross-cultural icon. Being bilingual and a skilled code switcher, he incorporates Spanish and English interchangeably into his music, which has become the outlet for representing his generation, and his people. Xiuhtezcatl has performed and collaborated with artists such as Raury, WILLOW, and Jaden, while building outside the boundaries of the music industry to use art to challenge systems of injustice and reenvision the future.

As 1/3 of the emerging hip hop group Voice Runners , Xiuhtezcatl, LA-based artist Tru producer Jaiia Cerff launched into 2020 in full force dropping a series of singles that culminated with the self-titled Voice Runners album in February. In this project, X explores culture, legacy, and his identity and struggles as a young Indigenous man growing up as a minority in mainstream America. X is committed to delivering music that has as much meaning as it has radio appeal.

Musicians That Inspire: My family grew up listening to a lot of Manu Chao, specifically the album Clandestino. There's something very timeless and nostalgic about the album's production, the bizarre sound effects and vox samples cut throughout the record and the vivid storytelling in his songwriting. The songs are basically all written and produced to perfectly slide into the next and it almost forces you to sit and listen through the whole album as a full experience rather than just shuffling through some of your favorite songs. I'm all about experiencing albums as a whole like that. I've definitely taken lots of inspiration from that project and his writing.

More recently, I feel like Tyler, The Creator has really stood out as somebody who is unapologetically creative, and really shines in everything he puts his energy into. From his albums to his clothing brand to running a hip-hop music festival, it's dope to see artists not being bound to just recording and touring. The visual and narrative cohesiveness of his last couple projects have been really dope and cool to reference as I drop into album mode. You can see that he's just a super creative person, and has gotten to the point where he can channel that talent and vision into literally anything he does.

Do you feel like lockdown has shaped you as a musician/band? If so, how: It's been an incredibly turbulent and difficult time for both the world and just myself internally. Everything really channeled itself into the music, from the isolation from my creative community and family to just feeling emotionally depleted and going through big life changes. All while the world's been in flames and we've witnessed massive social uprisings. It's been a journey to try and be patient with myself, the creative process, and the super ambitious vision I have of what I want to create. I've definitely used this time to focus on polishing the music, my songwriting and just growing a lot creatively. The change of pace definitely granted me the opportunity to dive really deep into my creative practice in a way I haven't taken the space for in the past.

What's next? Lots of projects in the works, y'all can definitely expect an album before the end of the year to close this last chapter of music before transitioning into the next creative wave. We might even throw in a couple super intimate release shows before the end of the year depending on the covid situation. Overall though the rest of the year, we'll see some releases and a lot more creative incubation working on future projects. Plotting for a strong 2022 as touring and festivals hopefully come back safely and we can start to unveil the art I've been carefully crafting for the last year.


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