EXCLUSIVE: La Santa Cecilia Goes Back to Their Roots With 'Amar y Vivir'

EXCLUSIVE: La Santa Cecilia Goes Back to Their Roots with New Visual Album
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New year, new La Santa Cecilia. The Mexican-American band just released Amar y Vivir, a new visual project shot in Mexico and inspired by the group's traditional roots in music. 

The group, made up of Marisol "Marisoul" Hernandez, Jose "Pepe" Carlos, Miguel "Oso" Ramirez, and Alex Bendana, dished on filming the project, finding their voices, and more. Read it all in our exclusive interview ahead!

MORE: La Santa Cecilia Covers "Strawberry Fields"

Tell us about the Amar y Vivir project.

Marisol: Amar y Vivir is our new album, and it’s a visual audio album. We wanted to do something different, and take it back, you know, to our roots. We’re playing covers of a lot of music from Jose Alfredo Jiménez, Consuelo Velázquez, Violeta Parra. And also we wanted to take it back a little to how we started – street performing, playing at bars and stuff, so that’s what Amar y Vivir is. We went to México for about a week, and were recording everything live at parks. I think every song we did like four or five takes, and we chose the best ones from there. We’re very proud of this album. I feel like it’s an album we’ve always wanted to, or at least I have always wanted to do because I come from music. This is what we were playing before we started La Santa Cecilia. I feel like in order for La Santa Cecilia to move forward to the next chapter, we have to acknowledge this part right here, and I’m so glad that we did.

What about a tour?

Marisol: Yes, we’re going to kick off a Southwest tour in May. In May, we’re kicking off in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and then from there we go to México. We’re playing our own show at El Lunario, which is big deal for us, because México is very important to us. We feel very connected to it, not just because we recorded the album there, but because it’s where some of us come from, too. So we’ll be hitting the road soon!

How do you think it’ll be received in the different cities across the country?

Marisol: I think it’ll be received well because we already play all kinds of music. But I know that when we start playing our rancheras or we play “Como Dios Manda,” which is a song we wrote, or we play a José Alfredo cover at our concerts, people really connect with that. It reminds them of their parents, of las fiestas, no? I hope the people connect with it. I hope maybe this gives younger folk a chance to kind of dig into our music, no? Boleros, ranchera – to these songs that are so precious, no? They’re like jewels. So I feel very happy that we get to present them in our own way, no? Pero muy tradicional también.

Miguel: It’s more a project kind of like how “Buena Vista Social Club,” when that movie came out and everybody listened to “Los Gardenias,” that song, you know? You see the artists interpreting it in a way that’s very special and traditional for us as Latinos. This project is that. It has a lot of moments of magic that I think are going to transcend a lot of generations and really connect a lot of people. So on the tour, we’re going to be going to Tejas, Arizona, and México, so I think it’s going to be cities where there’s obviously a lot of Mexicanos and Latinos. So it’s going to be pretty awesome.

Who are your musical heroes and why are they so important to your work?

Marisol: When I talk about our musical heroes are the people that wrote these songs that first recorded these songs. Although, we of course admire the people we invited, we admire them very much, and we’re so happy that they’re part of the album. These songs that we chose are the songs that when we hang out, when we have a party at Pepe’s house or whatever… And when you’re at a party and someone takes out a guitar and is like, ‘Sing this one!’ and you cry and you laugh, talk shit.  That’s what bohemians are.

Miguel: It’s our lifestyle too. The way we live. We’re always on the road. We’re always on the search for inspiration and music and culture. We’re always trying to look with the people that connect each place that we go to in a very authentic way. The best way to do that is over drinks, a few smokes, honesty, romance, talking, music, and that whole environment is what we wanted the project to be like, to reflect. If you go to a bar in Buenos Aires, and you see this man singing (with) a guitar by himself and you’re sad, you feel that, those feelings, that’s what we wanted to be transmitted through the album.

Pepe: I think you’ll see that visually too. There was one moment where we went to the Garibaldi, which is a place in Mexico where all the mariachis are at, where they come and work and meet each other. We were at one place called Tehama where a lot of those artists, José Alfredo Jiménez, Cabala Vargas, would hang out and sing these songs, probably even wrote some of these songs. Just for us to be able to interpret that song and play it and perform it and capture it visually, I think people are going to feel the impact of it.

What about the other artists that are featured on this project?

Marisol: We’re fans of some of these artists, like Mon Lacerta, we’re fans of hers, and I love her songs. They’re about heartbreak, but they also sound very classic. Eugenia León is a big Mexican singer – a jazz singer, a ranchera singer, bolero. She sings everything, and I’ve loved her. She’s been a great inspiration to me. So for me to have Eugenia León singing “En El Ultimo Trago” is like a dream come true. I just can’t believe she was there! Admiration mostly is why we play or invite artists to play with us. It’s like we have this toy that’s music, we love playing with each other, but when we can play with other people, it’s awesome. It’s like playing basketball, you know? I don’t play basketball, but you know what I mean.

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