The origin stories of bands usually have familiar ingredients. So and so started jamming with so and so, and then later on, so and so joined up after so and so didn’t work out, etc. The music, itself, is usually the product of the members’ mutual affection for a particular genre, such as blues, metal, pop, or whatever. While there is nothing unique in the story of how the four members of the Long Beach-based, experimental, psychedelic rock band Así Fui got together, the music that resulted is another story.
Vocalist / bass player Tatiana Velázquez told the Weekly about how their unique synergy came to be. While none of the band’s members were born in Long Beach, that is where they all began working together. Velázquez and synth player / keyboardist Jacob Connelly started jamming a couple years ago. Their musical experiments caught the ear of drummer Ryan Reiff, and finally guitarist Miguel Vazquez joined up. Their musical backgrounds run the gamut from traditional Cuban music to hip-hop, but when they play together, their free form jamming results in a sound that cannot be so easily categorized.
The band (formerly known as I/O) seems to embrace this nebulous quality in many ways. They are intent on “keeping things lively,” as Velázquez says, and they perform unannounced, improvised sets so frequently that they’ve come up with a name for the practice. “We call it Will Future,” which she explains is “a play on words...it sounds like a guy’s name, but also you can will your future.” The recording of the band’s first EP, LIVE Fernet Session, which was released one year ago, also demonstrates the band’s love for spontaneity, as it was recorded in the living room of producer J.P. Bendzinski’s Long Beach home, over the course of three hours.
Everything about the band resonates with the concept of living and creating for the moment. Thus, the band’s name, Así Fui, suggests that any recordings of the band’s performances, live or in the studio, provide a documentary keepsake for the future. Regarding the band’s name, Velázquez explains that it is Spanish for “this is how I was.” She elaborates upon the personal connection she has for the expression: “My grandmother used to write it on her photographs of her youth, when she was in her old age, so it kind of signifies a time span for everything that we do.”
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This sentiment is echoed through the imagery of the band’s music video for their song “Whirlwind.” The video depicts an elderly gentleman (portrayed by Velázquez’s 93 year-old grandfather) recalling events and people from his past, which are symbolically represented with the man digging in the earth for an envelope containing photographs. The video was shot by Velázquez and edited by Aaron Archambault. The style of the video is a perfect complement to the band’s psychedelic music, with images presented via a surreal montage and layered with psychedelic patterns.
Velázquez is not the only visual artist in the band. Connelly and Vazquez recently exhibited some paintings at an art show in Long Beach. However, Velázquez’s multi-media influence seems to permeate much of the band’s identity. Outside of music, video, and photography, she claims her “main thing is collages, painting, and mixed media.” Her interest in these varied forms and her passion for synthesizing disparate components resonates with the fact that Así Fui’s members come from such diverse backgrounds.
The culmination of diverse elements has been getting some attention, as the band was approached by Teri Gender Bender, the singer for Le Butcherettes, who asked Así Fui to open for their gig, at Alex’s Bar, in Long Beach, tomorrow evening. As a DIY band, Así Fui are taking their time to do things their way. They balance their improvisational ethos with performance dates and recordings (including their first full length CD, which should come out later this year) that can very definitely be used to identify them as they are now — and some day, as they were then.
Así Fui performs tomorrow with Le Butcherettes and DJs Chronica and Polyester at Alex's Bar. 8 p.m. $12, 21+. For full details, click here.