Cordero Returns With its Latin-Indie Vibes

Sweet vocal melodies blended with trumpet harmonies, meandering keys and danceable rhythms at the Levitt Pavilion, Aug. 29

By Gabriel San Roman
Published on LatinoLA: August 27, 2009

Cordero Returns With its Latin-Indie Vibes

Based in New York City, the band Cordero has been quietly perfecting its unique blend of indie-rock rhythms infused with the infectious sounds of Latin music. Fronted by Puerto Rican songstress Ani Cordero and featuring members of various ethnic backgrounds, the band's songs intermingle her soothing vocals with musical arrangements that are irresistibly danceable on multiple sonic fronts. The Village Voice attests to this phenomenon having said of Cordero's live performance that they "usually wind up as street parties outside the venue."

Cordero are making their way once more to the West Coast for tour dates in support of their latest album "De D??nde Eres," released a year ago to critical acclaim. The band will be making a local stop this Saturday, August 29 at the Levitt Pavilion Memorial Park in Pasadena, an outside venue already conducive to becoming a street party, but before that, singer/guitarist Ani Cordero made time to speak with LatinoLA about her music.

Q: How would you describe the sound of Cordero?

A: As far as category, Latin-Indie, but as to actually describe the music--sweet vocal melodies blended with trumpet harmonies and meandering keys. The rhythm section keeps it danceable and grounds the melodies.

Q: And the band is quite multiracial. Does that play into the various influences that meld into the arrangements of your band?

A: Yes, we all have different backgrounds, but our musical influences also intersect.

The four band mates all come from different backgrounds. I'm of Puerto Rican descent, and have always traveled back and forth between the states and the island. So my musical tastes reflect the classic bi-cultural-american combo of my parent's music and the rock music my friends and I would listen to as teenagers. I spent my teens and early 20's playing drums in the indie-rock scene, but I never gave up my Cortijo y su combo, Danny Rivera, or Haciendo Punto en Otro Son records.

Omar, who plays trumpet and keys, grew up in Long Island, NY. He's trained in jazz, and plays with several DJ's and Afrobeat bands. He brings a totally different approach and set of musical references. I've never heard of many of the bands he tells me about and vice versa, but we both really love African and Caribbean music.

Chris, the drummer, was born in the Midwest but moved to Atlanta as a teenager. He's known as an indie rock drummer, but he's also a total hip-hop fanatic. He's really interested in keeping even the darker songs danceable. I love that. He's also been traveling to Puerto Rico with me for 10 years and has learned a lot in that time about Latin music.

Eric, the bass player, was also born in the Midwest and comes to Cordero via the Alt-country and rock scenes. We both like minimalist music and vocal driven songs.

Q: In your other band Pistolera, you're on the drums, but in Cordero, you're singing and playing guitar. What's the experience like for you being front and center in this band?

A: I've been playing drums for a really long time. I'm good at being a drummer. It's easy. I'm a member of Pistolera and also a fan, and while I'm totally behind the message and politics of every Pistolera song, I'm not the songwriter in that band so the pressure is not the same.

Being the front person is a totally different experience. To write the songs in Cordero and present them is way scarier. I'm often too close to the music to have much perspective. But it's also very rewarding in those moments when you feel that the crowd is totally with you, or when you get lovely fan emails.

Speaking of drums, your husband has the responsibility of being behind the kit in Cordero. Since you're an accomplished drummer yourself, how does this husband-wife dynamic play out in songwriting?

Whoever has the best idea for the drumbeat wins!

Q: The song "Ruleta Rusa" off your latest album "De D??nde Eres" has a very conscious message on multiple levels. Tell us about that song and if social issues in general are often a lyrical thread through your band's music.

A: "Ruleta Rusa" is a song about environmental destruction. It arose from one of the last conversations I had with my grandfather who was a farmer and teacher. He was telling me all about the fruits that he used to enjoy that are no longer grown because they don't have a high enough profit margin, or don't handle long-distance shipping well. The song tries to bring attention to the fact that our carelessness and short sightedness will lead to doom if we don't do an about-face.

And yes, many of my songs are in some way political because the personal is political. "La Yegua" is a message of support to all my sisters who are working up the courage to leave their abusers. "Vamos Nenas" tells the cat callers to shut up. "En Este Momento" (written and released during the Bush administration) is a rallying cry to demand change.

Q: What lies ahead in the future for Cordero? New recordings?

Yes, new recordings and more touring. We'll be debuting some new material on this tour getting it ready for the next record.

Oh, and of course, taking over the world one fan at a time.

Cordero plays the Levitt Pavillion at Pasadena Memorial Park, Saturday, August 29th 8 p.m. FREE. All Ages.

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