Formed in Mexico City back in 2005, Hello Seahorse! has matured into an experimental indie-rock outfit. Their 2009 effort, Bestia, netted them numerous accolades, including a Latin Grammy nomination, and Best Rock Album distinctions at Mexico's Indie-O Awards. Fronted by singer Denise "Lo Blondo" Gutierrez, Hello Seahorse! create surrealist electronic-inflected rock soundscapes through the keen musicianship of bassist/keyboardist Fernando "Oro de Neta" Burgos, drummer Gabriel "Bonnz!" De León and guitarist José "Joe" Borunda. Lo Blondo's vocal talents recall the singing style of staged musicals, imbuing the offerings of the band with the grandeur of theater.
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OC Weekly (Gabriel San Roman): Lo Blondo, you were originally born in Van Nuys. How did you end up in Mexico City? Also, in the band's early years, you wrote songs in English and Spanish, but you have since moved exclusively toward the latter. Why?
Lo Blondo: I was born here, but my parents lived in Mexico, so I was raised there. It has always been natural for me, speaking Spanish, and in my family, we kind of follow some North American traditions, so I have both languages. It was also easy to write in both English and Spanish. But as the years have passed, I have felt much freer writing in Spanish. It was kind of a decision we made as a band. When you're playing for a live audience and they're mostly Spanish-speaking, you really want them to understand what you're saying, and you really want to them to have that connection, so it was only natural to write mostly in Spanish for all of the songs.
What was the experience working with Money Mark of Beastie Boys fame ?
We worked with two different producers for this album. One was Money Mark, and the other was Yamil Rezc. They both are really different, and they work with music in a different way, but the whole point about music is the same--it's the most therapeutic form of release. We had already worked with Yamil, so it was really easy going into the studio with him. With Mark, we had been working with him a couple of months before we went into the studio. We kind of jammed and did two songs with him, and then, when we had the other songs for the new album, we looked to him to see if he wanted to work with us again. He said, "Of course!" We came to LA to work with him for a week. It was pretty intense to have just one week and to have to be in the studio working hard and not leaving. But he is a really open person. I think the best thing about our producers is that they are just looking for you to be the best. They don't work with you as producers; they work with you equally, and that's really important and gives you a lot of confidence. Of course, Mark has this really groovy thing working with the Beastie Boys, and he has all this jazz background, and it was just seasoning for our songs. That's what producers do. They season the songs.
Your singing voice is quite unique in experimental indie-rock as it has an element of theatrical-musical performance to it. How did you develop that approach?
You're starting off 2011 coming through Southern California. What is the perspective of the band when they cross the border to places such as Costa Mesa? Beyond the fact that your album is out now in the States digitally, how are you looking at this tour?
I think it's really exciting to start the year like this. I've been here in California for three weeks, and the guys are coming soon. We haven't seen one another since the end of December. It's going to be really fun to just get together and redo our stuff. I think it's a really cool time to renew ourselves. We are looking forward to playing in California. We've come here three times before. California has this great thing where you can travel to different place really close by and just play. We know it's not easy to just come here to the States and play mostly in Spanish, but I think there are lots of possibilities. You have to take yourself there and be open to whatever happens.
Hello Seahorse! perform with special guests at the Detroit Bar, 843 W 19th St., Costa Mesa; www.detroitbar.com. Thurs., Jan. 13, 9 p.m. $13-$15. 21+.