Bronx native Rene Lopez was raised to the sounds of salsa. His dad was a trumpet player for the 1970’s New York band Tipica 73 and brought him along on gigs, eventually inspiring the younger singer’s Latin soul–inflected Rock and Roll. His latest EP, Johnny Wants to be a Matador, is a groovy collection of songs with the Big Apple written all over them. I recently caught up with the crooner and here’s what he had to say:
Tell me about your dad.
He was a great salsa trumpet player in NYC during the '70s when the music was at it's best. It was inspiring to watch him perform and also jam with him. He had a great record collection that he would let me go through and turned me on to a lot of great music. His influence is relevant on my new EP.
Who is Johnny? Is he your alter ego?
Johnny is that side of all us that is not afraid to follow their passion in life even when the odds or your friends are against it.
You're working on a full-length album; how’s it going?
It's funny. I finished my full-length album called People Are Just People months ago and then I was inspired to go in the studio again to record some more tunes and made the EP Johnny Wants To Be A Matador. We decided to put the EP out first and it's really closer to the sound that I'm going towards. The full-length is more of me piecing it together and the EP has more of a band vibe.
How do you want people to feel after listening to you?
I would like to put a smile on people's faces. I'm done with the "my life is a drag" type of songs.
What's your favorite thing about playing in New York?
Sometimes us New Yorkers can be a little jaded, so if I can win them over and get people dancing and smiling I know I can do that anywhere.
Here’s the singer, performing “Wednesday” from his last album, People Are Just People.