Mexican-American singer Gustavo Galindo may draw comparisons to a certain Colombian rocker for his guitar-strumming ways and thoughtful lyrics but the 28-year-old has a style all his own. As he readies his debut album, Entre la Ciudad y el Mar, with the help of legendary producer Gustavo Santaolalla (Juanes, Café Tacuba, Julieta Venegas), he explains how his music bridges the gap between two cultures and languages.
You just performed in Mexico City at a concert celebrating the Bicentennial—how was that experience?
My family in Mexico got to see me perform with my band. They’re used to seeing me play after dinner and during birthday celebrations at home. We were on the bill with Zoe, Kinky, Maldita Vecindad and Mexican Institute of Sound. Mexican crowds are notoriously picky and we won them over.
On October 3rd, you’re playing at the Terra Music Fest with Don Omar, Nelly Furtado, Bellanova and other musicians. What are you most excited about?
I’ve loved Nelly Furtado’s music since college. Also Bellanova, they’re another cool band. It’s fun to be part of a festival.
How would you describe your sound?
It’s a mix of American rock and roll and the Latin landscape of sound. My influences range from Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan to Juanes and Jaguares. My music is a combination of the way I am—Mexican and American.
Speaking of Juanes, you’ve been compared to the Colombian rocker before.
I can’t complain; he’s someone that I’ve admired for a long time. He’s a hero of mine. The sounds are very different. He’s more South American. He has his own style. I’m a bit more rock and roll. His first album, Fijate Bien, opened my eyes to what Latin rock can be. The emotion that’s on that album is amazing.
How would you describe your upcoming album Entre la ciudad y el mar?
We were trying to create a fresh sound mixing the cultures where I’m from. It has the Latin feel of percussion with American rock. The lyrics come from a romantic, open place. The songs deal with social issues about Mexican Americans trying to find a way to make a better life. I have a song called “Canción pal norte” about a woman sending prayers to her husband in the north. Half the album is about those issues and the rest is about my personal life, love and the loss of love. The record comes out late January/early February.
You have a girlfriend, has she inspired a song yet?
“Chasing Lightning” is the only song on the album that the verses are Spanish and the chorus is in English. It’s about wanting to get to know someone new. It’s at the end of the album.
You sing and write in Spanish and English, how does your style differ between languages?
It depends on the melody and the images popping into my head. Growing up in the U.S., English is the stronger of the two languages. Emotionally, Spanish is the stronger of the two languages. I don’t know what language a song will be in until the first phrases pop into my head. At first, I mumble and hum.
What’s a day in your life like when you’re not on stage?
I try to work out everyday. I do judo workouts and I play soccer in the afternoon. I grew up as a chubby kid and I have a fear of being that again. I became a songwriter because it was the only way I could get girls.
Here’s the video for “Te perdí,” the first single from the new album: