Hello Seahorse! Ready to Greet Detroit Bar

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.


Hello Seahorse! begin 2011 by bringing their latest album, Lejos, No Tan Lejos, digitally released yesterday in the United States on iTunes by Nacional Records, to Southern California for a tour that rolls through Costa Mesa's Detroit Bar tomorrow night. Prior to the concert festivities, the band asked via Twitter, “California. Are you ready!?” As OC prepares, the Weekly had a few questions of its own for Lo Blondo:

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.

The new album, Lejos, No Tan Lejos, has strong thematic currents
of detachment and resolving the chaos that is life. How did these themes
come to dominate the new material?
I think the whole thing of doing an album a year after releasing one really helped us move and opened many doors for us. It was a natural step to want to say new things: 2009 was a really hard year for us. It was really successful, though, and we learned a lot of things as a band. We started living off shows, so when the year ended, we had a lot of things to say. I think when you are playing a lot, you have to leave stuff and people behind. We really didn't think we were going to write a whole album. In January 2010, the four of us went to a place near Mexico City, and it was more like an exercise trying to release our thoughts. After a week, we noticed we had many songs. We went back, and the whole idea was to act as quickly as possible so the songs were still fresh. We didn't want anything to be forgotten.
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?
I really got into this band-and-music thing without thinking. I started singing at a really young age, but I was singing in a choir. I grew up singing in churches and cathedrals. That doesn't mean I'm a religious person because I'm really not. I really tried to understand the whole thing of singing in spaces like that. When the band started, it was difficult for me to have to be the only singer and to have to be the leader of a song and of a whole group. I suppose many things have happened to me in my life that have made me want to grow and be a better singer every time. I read a lot about singing, and I take private classes. Last year, I was really into my private classes with a teacher in Mexico. He opened the world of opera to me. At that moment, I really got stuck in that world, and I felt like I wanted to be a great opera singer. Now, I don't feel that way, but I suppose the whole thing got stuck in the songs. I think that's the beauty about singing. You never stop learning things. Every time you get to learn more and get to know yourself more. 

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+.

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