The music of tropical Afro-Latin band QUITAPENAS is here to take all your worries away, which is exactly what their name means in Spanish – ‘Quita’ meaning taking away and ‘penas’ meaning embarrassments or worries.
“I feel like it’s very appropriate to what we are able to provide to people who come to our shows,” QUITAPENAS lead singer Hector Chavez said. “They come, they let loose, they dance, they meet new people and we just want them to leave our show feeling positive, feeling happy, feeling like things are going to be okay.”
The five-person band from Southern California formed in 2011. They’re Hector Chavez as lead vocals and on the sax, percussion and ukulele, Daniel Gomez on guitar, vocals and ukulele, Mark Villela on the guacharaca, backup vocals, David Quintero on tambora and campana, and Eduardo Valencia on the congas and percussion.
QUITAPENAS released their first self-titled album in February. In 2013 they released an EP titled Más Tropical Vol 1.
Many of the band members are first-generation here in the United States and their parents are in the working class. Through their upbringing in California comes a message that focuses on the community and songs like “Valle Moreno” protest the social injustices.
“We see people in the community who work hard to try and win this for their kids,” Chavez said. “But it’s not in a negative way it’s in a positive way because we see people around us in a hustle, whatever they do, and that inspires us and motivates us to try and work as hard as our fans do.”
Chavez has also noticed that there are more people that are singing along to their songs when they perform.
“It’s given us more confidence,” Chavez said. “Not just confidence, but it was definitely a motivator. We weren’t too sure if we were going to keep going with it but we decided to work at it and we were able to do this album and we proved to ourselves that it is definitely possible to keep doing this.”
They are working on another album that they hope to finish by the end of the year to release early next year.
The style of music began mainly as cumbia but has since evolved to explore and incorporate other genres of music pulling inspiration from very parts of the world to create their interpretation of world dance music.
“For the rhythms and the beats we got inspiration from bowler music, music that was happening during the ’60s and ’70s,” Chavez said. “As far as the lyric content from our everyday lives and places we’ve lived in.”
For Chavez, the music QUITAPENAS is creating is bringing back a style that had been forgotten for a bit and is refreshing to the audience because it is a break from what is heard in the mainstream.
“We give them music that is different that people can enjoy with their entire family,” Chavez said. “There are kids dancing and older folks relate to the music because it reminds them of the music they were listening too in their youth.”
The upbeat rhythm and message that QUITAPENAS’ music has makes it easy to dance too and Chavez said that during performances he has seen how the music can change people’s moods.
“Eventually we’d like to take it to another country, another continent – that probably our end goal,” Chavez said. “Take the show on the road, share with as many people as possible and hopefully make a small difference in people’s everyday lives.”
Listen to the self-titled release from QUITAPENAS below.