Interview: Buyepongo brought the ruckus from Los Angeles to SXSW

Buyepongo promo

Los Angeles-based Buyepongo was one of the many Latino acts to perform during this year’s SXSW. Promo photo by Edgar Robles.

Buyepongo’s aim is pretty simple – to cause a ruckus.

Their Latin American roots show in their music, a complex fusion of Afro-Cuban rhythms mixed with merengue, cumbia and punta.

“We started off with a cumbia-flavored sound, and cumbia is still a big part of our foundation, but we evolved to different sounds,” Modesto said. “We like to add our upbringing of music we add a little punk, jazz, you can hear a little bit of hip-hop in there and our musical compositions have become way more complex and our stories are more in the world-wide spectrum.”

Los Angeles-based Buyepongo is currently on their Buyangú tour and came to Austin for this year’s SXSW. In January, Buyepongo released their well-received vinyl, Maestros.

The group formed in 2008. Edgar Modesto is lead vocals and the guacharaca, Larry Harvey on percussion, the palago, and vocal, Randy Modesto on bass, Angel Hernandez on the saxaphone, clarinet, and flutes, Jorge Vallejo on the clarinet and vocals, Richard Hererra on percussion and the bongo and Kris Castro on the keyboard.

Buyepongo album

‘Maestros’ available now at

“It’s the classic story of kids growing up in an urban city trying to find a voice,” Buyepongo lead singer Edgar Modesto said.

“But at that time we were starting to get serious on the stuff we were doing so a couple of us had been drumming around the city with some other local rumberos and drummers [where] we started learning Afro-Cuban, Afro-Colombian rhythms.”

The name of the band itself shows the culture and inner-city roots of the Buyepongo. ‘Buye’ meaning something that is very loud and causing madness and ‘pongo’ which is Spanish for provide.

“We’re sometimes stuck between one place and another and we kind of create our own languages among the inner city,” Modesto said. “Like Buyangu is [what] we like to call the Buye Beat, it’s like how you call salsa, cumbia, Buyepongo is buyangu.”

Buyepongo is working on not confining itself to the idea that its music is just for a Latin American audience and does so by including the audience. They are currently in the middle of finishing up a full-length album titled Todo Mundo.

“We have the audience in our music,” Modesto said. “Without the audience we wouldn’t be Buyepongo. And when people ask us ‘are you guys Latin?’ we just say it’s world music and that’s the way we approach it.”

What really brings everything together for Buyepongo is knowing that they will able to represent where they come from which they consider the biggest inspiration.

“The Buye Beat is the sound of the future,” Modesto said. “It’s the sound of the now, it’s something you can also relate to the past.”

Buyepongo lives by one philosophy – life is too short so make the best of it. This translates into their shows and they hope to the audience.

“We want you to come to our show and leave with an extra skip,” Modesto said. “To find these rhythms and everyone else that you see in life – that’s what we want people to take away just. Be happy because life’s too short. We are guaranteed death and everything else just dies.”

Watch the music video for “Maestros” from Buyepongo below.

Estefania de Leon

Estefania was born and raised a true Austinite. She graduated from Crockett High School, where she was editor-in-chief of the Courier for three years, and is currently studying journalism at the University of Texas. She enjoys blogging, photography, and anything Owl City.

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