Calling all Venezuelans! Si*Sé’s drummer and percussionist Neil Ochoa, Los Amigos Invisibles’ guitar player José Luis Pardo (a.k.a. DJ Afro) and bass player about town Alvaro Benavides have joined forces to form Los Crema Paraiso, a trio infusing traditional “joropo” into rock, funk, electronica, and every other sound under the sun. I caught up with Neil between rehearsals for the band’s upcoming gig at Brooklyn’s Barbes on Sunday.
How did the idea for Los Crema Paraiso come along?
I had the idea for a while of doing a project on Venezuelan traditional music with a more electronic and rock-ish sound, so late last summer while Jose Luis Pardo and I were working on other projects I mentioned it to him.
How did you know each other?
We are all from Venezuela and are connected by many mutual friends in the musical scene in Caracas, as well as in New York. Jose Luis and I have known each other for few years... Alvaro Benavides is a local on demand bass player whom I’ve know since his times as a Berkley student in the mid 90's.
Why Los Crema Paraiso? Where is that name from?
Crema Paraiso is the name of a famous and emblematic ice cream store in Caracas where every kid growing up in the late 70’s and 80’s was taken by his or her parents for a barco de banana—a banana split. Politically, somehow this place represented the rise of the middle class in a country during its peak of an oil boom.
How would you describe the sound?
As a musician it's always hard to describe your own sound but I would say it's a mix of a power trio a la Police or Medeski Martin and Wood, which blends exotic organic and electronic sounds with the rhythm structure of some of the Venezuelan traditional music. Or as a good friend just said: “It's like high speed Bossanova.”
Will you all continue as part of Si*Sé, Los Amigos, etc.? You haven't all defected, right?
Ha! Ha! We have no plans of defecting our current bands. The only difference between being married and being in a band is that while in a band you are allowed to have affairs with other musicians.