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Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

While music is a universal language, it can be difficult for bands to break through language and cultural barriers. However, Zoé has been breaking through both: The band from Mexico will be performing at Coachella on Sunday, April 13 and April 20.

The band began in Mexico City in 1994, and—like many new bands—it went through various lineup changes and identity crises at first, before finding a degree of consistency. The current lineup includes León Larregui (vocals), Sergio Acosta (guitar), Jesus Baez (keyboards), Angel Mosqueda (bass guitar) and Rodrigo Guardiola (drums).

During a recent phone interview, Sergio Acosta talked about Mexico’s small but powerful alternative-music scene.

“Mexico’s music scene is closer to traditional music,” he said. “The alternative-music scene in Mexico is there, but there is music from all around the world, and we have a lot of influences.”

Those influences include a variety of indie-rock and psychedelic-rock bands—but each album the band has put out since the self-titled debut in 2000 has had a different sound.

“The recording sessions for us are the joyful part of the process,” he said. “Experimentation has been a big cornerstone for us. It’s always been important for us to generate our own original sound. On our second album, we used a drill and typewriters, and any old piece of junk that we could find that could generate sound.”

Zoé has had a long working relationship with producer Phil Vinall, who has also worked with Pulp, Placebo and Elastica, just to name a few bands.

“Phil has worked with us since the mix of the first album in 2000,” he said. “When we started working with him, it was through e-mail and the tracking of our first album. Luckily for us, he was moved by the music, and we got to go to London to make our first album; since that day, he’s been our producer. He’s a very important part of the sound, and we have great communication with him.”

Zoé also has a friend in Nick McCarthy, of the Scottish band Franz Ferdinand. McCarthy was introduced to Acosta by a visual artist in Mexico.

“We met outside of the music environment,” he said. “We just became friends. Later on, Nick came for a holiday to Mexico City, and we were working on a show at the Palacio de los Deportes (Palace of Sports). We were just like, ‘Hey, why don’t you play a song with us?’ He came to the rehearsal room; we sung together; and we had a great show.”

McCarthy has also collaborated with Zoé in the recording studio.

“We have this great friendship. We always see each other when we’re in the same place, and we spent a holiday together a couple of months ago,” Acosta said.

Acosta claimed the band doesn’t think about the language and cultural barriers it faces. The band has recorded some songs in English and has managed to have success in a number of American markets; the band has also developed a degree of popularity in Europe. Acosta said it all comes down to the power of the music.

“We have some songs in English,” he said. “… We sang them in English because they sounded better. It can be frustrating having a language barrier, but we also believe that music is music. We used to listen to music that was mostly sung in English. I also love French music—and I speak very little French. We just think that people get into the music for the emotions that it creates. For about nine years, we’ve also toured the U.S., and each time we play, we see more American people who maybe speak Spanish, but maybe they also like the music. I think there are people who might not understand (all of the music), but they still like the band.”

Acosta said he and his fellow band members credit their camaraderie and friendship as the most essential element of their success.

“Zoé was founded in really good friendship, and we believed we had a good project,” he said. “For us, it’s just very natural for us to get together and make music. Nowadays, after so many years together, we still feel very creative together, and we have a lot in common. We just like to make music together, and we believe that’s what keeps us going.

“We’re very lucky to be a band who can do these kind of tours and play festivals like Coachella. We’re very happy, and we’re very proud of what we have.”

Published in Previews

Thanks for checking out another FRESH Sessions installment!

To keep things FRESH, I will be bringing in various local DJs to guest mix throughout the year. This month, we are featuring our first FRESH Sessions guest DJ!

Ivanna Love aka, Cici Ochoa, is a local who has been in the scene for some time now. Ivanna’s style is eclectic; in just one set, you’ll most likely hear tracks from several different genres. She keeps it upbeat; she keeps it fun; she keeps it FRESH. Ivanna is an inspiration with her positive attitude and impressive tastemaker skills.

This month’s mix offers a perfect example of the vibe that Ivanna Love brings. She’s a great person who creates great music. So without further ado, I present to you Ivanna Love’s FRESH Sessions, which you can enjoy below.

Oh, and don’t forget to catch my Cosmic Disco House Party, starting at 9 p.m., Friday, Feb. 7, at Clinic Bar and Lounge, 188 S. Indian Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. There’s no cover!

  • Lusine, “Lucky”
  • Aimlo, “Understand (I Love You)”
  • Maya Jane Coles, “Something in the Air”
  • Kartell, “Sierra”
  • Simian Mobile Disco, “Everyday”
  • Sharam Jey, “Here I Come”
  • Alf Alpha, “Planet Rock” (Remix)
  • Franz Ferdinand, “Evil Eye” (Alan Braxe Remix)
  • Cut Copy, “Saturdays”
  • Hot Natured, “Reverse Skydiving”
  • Ed Ed, “Mulackritze” (Oliver $ Remix)
  • Crazibiza, “Keep It Comin”

Mixed by Ivanna Love; mastered by All Night Shoes.

Published in Subatomic

It’s definitely hot out here.

The second day of the second weekend of Coachella 2013 featured high temperatures in the 90s by mid-afternoon. But despite the heat, most of the attendees were having a good time.

Still, many sought shade under the Mirage art exhibit, designed by Paul Clemente of Los Angeles. Mirage, a Frank Lloyd Wright-looking housing structure, was crowded in the open spaces under the roof.

“It’s pretty hot, but not too unbearable,” said John, from Santa Monica. “It bothers me a little bit, especially right now.”

The Helix Poeticus—a large mechanical snail that moves around—was close by, attracting the curiosity of attendees who were snapping photographs and touching it as it slowly slithered around the main stage area, close to Mirage. Eric Hendricks, from Orange County, was in awe.

“I love it; I love the interactiveness of Coachella with the people,” he said.

However, there was a potential downside.

"It’ll run you over if you’re not paying attention,” Hendricks said.

The Do LaB, a long-running exhibit at Coachella, features live DJs in an area within teepee-like structures. “The vibe is great, and there’s a lot of bass,” said an Indio man coming out of The Do LaB. The dance floor and the DJ stage resemble a smaller version of the dance parties once shown on MTV’s Spring Break.

On the subject of electronic dance music, Saturday’s lineup of EDM artists was featured in the Mohave tent as well as the large EDM-featured Sahara Tent.

Major Lazer took the Mojave stage at 6:25 p.m. on Saturday to a full house that extended to areas around the stage. Jillionaire and Walshy Fire jumped around, barking orders to the crowd to jump, put their hands up, and remove their shirts and toss them into the air. The people obeyed, sending a collage of various colored shirts into the air. Diplo stayed at the mixing board, offering remixes of songs from Nirvana, Damian Marley and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Toward the end of the set, the group was joined by 2 Chainz, who performed earlier in the day.

The EDM in the Mojave and Sahara tents drew a large chunk of the crowd, trying to get a peek at artists such as Grizzly Bear and Fedde Le Grand. The main stage and the outdoor theater saw drops in crowd sizes between 6 and 8:30 p.m.

The ‘80s British ska band The Selecter took the stage at 7:10 in the Gobi tent to a small crowd. Many of the attendees had most likely never heard of the group, yet were dancing and bouncing around to the band’s anthems such as “On My Radio,” “Missing Words” and “Too Much Pressure.” The crowd had very few people “skanking”—a signature dance move done by ska devotees. But regardless, attendees couldn’t resist dancing or bouncing.

Punk icons the Descendents took the outdoor theater stage at 9:05. Milo Aukerman walked on and started playing “Everything Sucks” with some technical difficulties (the volume was too low) to a smaller-than-expected crowd. The band only plays a few shows a year due to Milo’s gig as a “plant researcher” at DuPont, and he chooses his vacation days wisely when it comes to touring. Still, the band had incredible energy and managed to pull in an audience that increased in size throughout the entire set. Milo read off a list if “punk commandments,” some of which were “thou shalt not commit laundry” and “thou shalt not take the van’s name in vain.” During what seemed to be a longer set than last weekend’s show, the Descendents looked happy and energetic.

The EDM presence remained strong through the evening. Moby … ahem, DJ Moby was performing at the Sahara, which was packed to capacity with an overflow. Moby, dressed in a Black Flag T-shirt, jumped up and down to pump up the crowd. He moved between fast-paced beats, ambient, trance, dubstep, and even a few cuts from his own albums. The visuals that flashed through the video screens were at times psychedelic, somewhat chaotic, and breathtaking. 

As The xx prepared to take the main stage, with Franz Ferdinand scheduled to play in the neighboring Mojave tent, DJ Moby’s audience began to thin out.

While Phoenix played on the main stage, New Order headlined at the Mojave tent. For a moment, it felt like a Metallica concert: New Order used the same intro as Metallica, Ennio Morricone’s “The Ecstasy of Gold.” When Bernard Sumner and the rest of the band took the stage, Sumner addressed a technical difficulty, thanking the sound engineer for failing to fade properly.

While Sumner (guitar and vocals) and Stephen Morris (drums) both look like they have aged into AARP status, make no mistake: They still rock! While Peter Hook is sitting out this reunion (and took a shot at the band in the press by referring to them as a “tribute band”), Tom Chapman fit in nicely on bass guitar.

Throughout the set, Sumner took shots at main stage headliner, Phoenix. “Thank you for being here instead of over there,” he said. Later on, he said—while experiencing technical difficulties in between songs—that they were out to prove to Phoenix that louder doesn’t mean better.

New Order played songs from throughout their career. “Your Silent Face,” from 1983’s Power, Corruption and Lies, featured a makeshift film in the background that made light of mankind’s destruction, showing shipwrecks off the shores of beautiful islands, helicopters flying over ravaged cities, shanties in parts of Los Angeles, and a big tidal wave hitting homes on the L.A. coast line. The band’s performance of “Blue Monday,” their hit single that was later covered by Orgy in the late '90s, delighted the audience. The former Joy Division members paid tribute to the late Ian Curtis with a portrait of him appearing on the backdrop as they played “Love Will Tear Us Apart.”

While I was leaving, I had one question in mind: Phoenix who? Performances on other stages stole the show from the early evening until the very end.

Photos by Noelle Haro-Gomez

Published in Reviews