Making Movies isn’t the typical Latin rock band; they are not based out of Los Angeles, New York City or Chicago, but rather Kansas City, which isn’t exactly known for its Latin music. Formed in 2007, the band has begun a quick rise. Making Movies has coupled with bands like the Aterciopelados and Caifanes. Making Movies has made a name for itself in the Midwest and now, fresh off their LAMC performance, they are one of the Latin alternative bands to watch.
The quartet—led by singer/guitarist Enrique Chi—has developed from their early EPs into a mature modern Latin rock band that still incorporates the traditional sounds of Afro-Cuban and salsa thanks to salsa percussionist Juan-Carlos Chaurand. In a year when more and more Latin bands are being mentioned in non-Latin publications, Making Movies could be the next band you read about in publications like Fader and Paste. Blurring the language and music barriers with bilingual lyrics and a sound that can please both the plaid-wearing indie kids to the rock/salsa-listening Latino. I caught up with guys right before their World Music Night performance at Momo’s, a set that left those in attendance very impressed.
Tell me about your experience at the Latin Alternative Music Conference.
Enrique: Well, we went up there (New York City), we were lucky enough to get some free passes. We went to see The Pinker Tones at Central Park. La Maldita, the Ozomatli show, then we had a showcase in Queens at el Antigua, which is where a lot of the smaller bands were playing, it was good experience; it was cool to see all the networking, there’s a definitely a lot of crops of progressive Latin bands all round the nation.
You were supposed to be at Pachanga Fest, but that didn’t work. So is this your first time in Austin?
Enrique: Yeah, this is our first time in Austin. Unfourunely, it didn’t work out at Pachanga. It’s been a bad year for money for everyone. We were really excited to be a part of Pachanga; hopefully, we will be part of that next year.
Tell me about your guys’ influences. And what are you listening to now?
Enrique: I think my biggest influences are things I grew up listening to at home, so my mom loved listening to dance music, so like salsas, cumbias, merengues. She loves merengue, and I think listening to that and coupled with my dad who played guitar, he loves The Beatles, pink Floyd and of course Carlos Santana. That combination of music is my biggest influences. New bands, I like this band called Delta Spirit; they are really cool and we got to do a show with them. I listen to Ruben Blades. He has a new CD.
Yeah, that song “Las Calles.”
Enrique: Yeah, “Las Calles” is an amazing song.
Juan-Carlos: For me, I grew up mainly listening to Latin stuff; I didn’t grow listening to rock. Of course my dad listened to The Beatles and stuff like that, but it was mainly like Mexican folklore and mariachi music. And then when I was about 13 I started getting into salsa, merengue. That’s how I started to playing salsa music, so those are mainly my influences of music, from anywhere old salsa like Buena Vista to more modern salsa like Victor Manuelle and Gilberto Santa Rosa. Right now it’s mainly the same thing, these guys started getting more involved into the indeed rock and stuff like that, so imp still trying to.. I love music so imp trying to take it all in. So those were my influences when I was younger. Mainly Latin stuff
Brendan Culp (drums): Just as Enrique was talking about things that you listened to at home, growing up my dad and mom, but mainly my dad listened to Led Zeppelin. But I was introduced into salsa music by Ruben Blades. I really like Calle 13. I think the rhythms on that are really neat and unique. Current bands, Mute Math, they’re from Missouri, so close to home.
Brendan, you being one of the “non-Latin” band members, were you hesitant to join the band at all?
Brendan: No, not at all. Actually, I thought it was really neat. I have always liked the rhythms because, as a drummer, complex things are awesome and intriguing and now to be able to tackle that is exciting and fun, so there was no hesitation
Now the name Making Movies, I know comes from a Dire Straits song is that correct?
Enrique: Yeah, okay, it comes from a Dire Straits album and it just kind of like I always saw it around the house and the Dire Straits was the first thing I remember liking in music. I was in Panama, and I didn’t speak any English, yet I loved one of there songs, so every time I hear it I get really excited about hearing it. So that was my first musical memory, so seeing that record at home, I always thought “that looks cool” on a record.
Live at Momo’s / photo by Miguel Angel
What was the initial reaction in Kansas City? How did you sell yourselves to club promoters? “Yeah, we’re a Latin rock band.”
Enrique: It took a while, but luckily we had a lot of friends supporting us, so that helped us out. Once we got the ball rolling, being the only thing happening in Kansas City helps to, cause then to the Latin radio stations and Hispanic radio station and even the English media, we’re one of the few Hispanic things they can talk about. There are a few traditional salsa bands, but that’s not really hip or new. That’s a cover band, so we’re about it going on, so we get a lot of coverage. So it helps us out
So has the Latin scene boomed or has it stayed the same since you guys started?
Enrique: It’s grown. We started bringing shows, kind of promoting shows, so we brought Alejandro Marcovich from Los Caifanes to Kansas City and we did a tour with them and we where the backing band, so we learned all the Caifanes songs.
You played with Aterciopelados, what did you take from that experience?
Enrique: Wow, a lot; the main thing I took was, they have a very open-arms attitude with there audience, even though they are Grammy winners and all that crazy stuff. You know they don’t mind meeting any fans. They are so down to earth with us and we have played with some other famous people not down to earth at all.
Juan-Carlos: …to where I was able to play with them
Enrique: They asked Juan-Carlos to jam on stage with them
Wow, jamming out with Los Aterciopelados…
Juan-Carlos: Yeah, just the kind of people that are very open-armed people.
The new album, In Deo Speramus. What exactly does it mean and where did come from?
Enrique: A couple of things, there is a lyric in one of the songs I say “If it’s in God we trust,” which is what it means, “I’m worried for us.” And it’s kind of a little bit of a statement on what I felt about what was happening in the country at the time. But then, it’s both ways so it’s kind of an attack on that. And on another side of it, it’s the reality that everything kind of came together for the band in kind of a neat way. So maybe there is something out there that’s directing everything; I don’t know.
I’m starting to notice more Latin bands, not just come out with English song or English album, but now they are starting to use bilingual lyrics, for instance Monte Negro. I know you do the same thing. When did you start experimenting with that?
Enrique: Right about the time Brendan started playing with us, we were experimenting with both languages because for me my life has been in both languages since I was I was 6, so it felt natural that music should be like how I talk to people. I talk to some people in English and others in Spanish.
In the song “Tormenta,” you mention “la patria,” in reference to being Panamanian. Are people aware of your band in Panama? Have you played in Panama?
Enrique: We have not played a show in Panama. I went down there for a quick promo run; I did a radio interview down there. We are very blessed that I had a good friend in Panama, Omar Alfanno, who is a songwriter who wrote a lot of hits for Willie Colón. He has written a lot of Marc Anthony’s hits, everything from the ’70s Fania Records stuff to all the way up Marc Anthony’s new record. I befriended him, so we want to make a run down there and start it down there.
What’s on the horizons for Making Movies, Where do you see this band in let say three to five years?
Enrique: We’re gonna go home for a couple of months, because we need to make a music video. Then in October we’re going to do a whole West Coast tour, so I think we will come through Texas. That’s the immediate future. Where I see this band in three to five years is touring national and internationally and being home less and being away more.
You mentioned a West Coast tour. Now, Arizona, are you going to just hop-skip that state?
Brendan: Well, we’ll maybe accidently drive though there
Enrique: We might hop-skip it.
What are your thoughts on all that is going on in Arizona?
Enrique: I disagree with what they’re doing. I don’t necessarily have so much with the fact that they have a law that you have to show your ID. That’s not even what bothers me or the racial profiling, because an individual cop can choose to do those things. What bothers me is, this land is for a certain type of human being and we want to keep it that way cause places like Texas and Arizona have only been a part of the U.S.A. for 150 years, 1850. And even the war that chose that line, Abraham Lincoln said this is a vanity war; I don’t want to live in this country if we make a war like this, and that’s the reason why certain type of people are allowed here and certain type aren’t allowed here. I think that’s bullshit. Yes, I think people should be here but they need to be given the option to live here legally ’cause there is not one land or place that is for a certain type of person, you know what I mean? It’s as silly as when the Old Catholic rights said God has given this land to this people, so you are allowed to kill everyone else. It’s almost that silly.
Is there anything more you would like to add?
Enrique: The only thing is, I feel we have a little bit of a responsibility as Latinos in this country right now to kind of be a voice and to be artistic. And we have some friends in San Antonio that are very involved in the community and teaching ’cause a lot of the underprivileged Latinos that come here aren’t aware that you can have an artistic life. And we feel it’s a responsibility and we’re thankful for people like Austin Vida and for any of the progressive Latino media. So if there is anything I would like to add, it’s just for the people that are doing it, keep doing it and for the people that aren’t, this is the time.