Every time a musician sheds their skin to evolve their sound, it reveals a layer of their personal growth waiting to be brought out. The music that Latin psych-soul troubadour Rudy De Anda makes today is miles away from the frenetic, math rock energy of his former band Wild Pack of Canaries. But even as the rollicking reputation of his former band was hitting its peak, his infatuation with the music of his parent’s generation was seeping into his sonic palette.
“The signs were all there in my early 20s,” De Anda says. “I was getting into Smokey Robinson and I gradually started taking a less punk rock approach and a less math rock approach and going for a more old-school, pop approach.”
However, audiences in his native Long Beach didn’t get to see the product of his growth until years later. Though he’s always been able to write a decent song, his decision a few years ago to start his own band bearing his name allowed him to take time to discover his ideal sound. Currently the band’s lineup includes former Wildpack drummer Alfred Hernandez, bassist Lily Stretz and rotating guitarist J.P. Bendzinski. His new music took De Anda and his band on the road, in the studio and in the presence of teachers who could give him the lessons on how to be the best version of himself.
“Like Cody Chesnutt said to me one time when I was in the studio with him, ‘Hey man, just cut to the chase, get to the meat of it. What are you really trying to say to people?’ De Anda recalls.
His stylistic rebirth coupled with the rising tide of Latin alternative audiences experimenting with the sounds of icons from the ‘60s and ‘70s created the catalyst for the freshest, forward-leaning throwback music De Anda’s ever created. Though he’s constantly traveling and playing music, fans have patiently waited over a year for him to drop some new material. The beginning of a new year seems as good a time as any to put out his new song “Helado.”
Beginning with a handful of catchy guitar notes, the bones of the riff are animated by groovy Latin percussion by Edgar “Meshlee” Modesto of Buyepongo, the oozy, psychotropic synth from Bardo Martinez of Chicano Batman and effervescent guest vocals of Gemma Castro.
The group effort behind this track is emblematic of a camaraderie of a recent crop of breakout artists from LA, the best of which use the culture as a means to forge their own path.
“I feel a big honor to be one of the acting members of this thing where people look back and be like ‘Oh that was a cool moment in time,’ De Anda says. “But I think we all understand that we’re all individuals writing our own book. The less you think about what the scene is and the more you focus on the art, that’s a good thing.”
This month, DeAnda embarks on some West Coast tour dates with Adan Jodorowsky, son of legendary French-Chilean film auteur Alejandro Jodorowsky. Adan’s stew of psychedelic folk, groovy rock and mellow crooning has helped him garner his own following for years. The two hit it off after a previous sold-out show at the Bootleg Theater last summer and have been in each other’s orbits ever since.
“During our last show together, I felt like I was in an Antonio Banderas movie in the ’90s–a lot of sweaty Latin people dancing and grooving,” DeAnda says. “I think taking it on the road is almost like a circus, the Jodorowsky/De Anda circus, I can’t tell you how excited I am to be able to say that, it’s crazy.”
De Anda’s shows with Jodorowsky in San Francisco (Feb. 13) and San Diego (Feb. 22) are kicked off by DeAnda’s show in Long Beach at Que Sera with Part Time, Soular System and DJ Benny Jets on Sunday, Feb. 11.
With a new year and new music, DeAnda says he looks forward to plenty more opportunities to shine in his new skin.
“We’re really trying to show people our new music and set the tone that we’re not going anywhere and if anything we’re here to stay and hopefully that transcends and takes us to many different places,” he says.
Rudy De Anda plays with Part Time, Soular System and DJ Benny Jets at Que Sera on Sunday, Feb. 11. 9 p.m., $8. Click here for full details.
Nate Jackson is the gatekeeper to your dreams of local dive bar stardom. If he writes about you, expect your band to be offered at least one more drink ticket than the rest of the bands on the bill. Get his attention with some groovy tunes and he might just do it. Then, boy will you feel special.