If there's anyone who can attest to finding creative success by forging their own musical path, it's Rudy De Anda. De Anda is one of Long Beach's most active musicians, most notably because of his involvement with LBC-based label Porch Party Records as well as the psychedelic cross-genre band Wild Pack of Canaries. The Watts-born Long Beach dweller has been forming his own bands since high school and finally emerges as a solo artist, indulging in his passion for writing music and exploring different musical territories for the benefit of listeners.
Many remember WPOC for their on-stage energy and eclectic genre variety, but their abrupt halt surprised many fans. De Anda explains that every member eventually became driven to a different direction; he remembers initially being the chief songwriter, but eventually the other members came around to bringing in their ideas to the point where De Anda's own ideas weren't heard any more. As time rolled on, the members' respective growing side projects drove the group into a definite hiatus in 2013.
De Anda decided it was an opportunity to focus on his own songs that were floating in the ether. Around the time of Wild Pack's dissolution, De Anda had already met Zach Mabry and Lily Stretz, a drummer and bass player, respectively, who would become the rhythm section for De Anda's new solo project. The three musicians were already orbiting the Long Beach music scene, so it was natural to cross paths, and before long they were rehearsing and playing shows together. "The nice thing about my [solo] project is that I felt like I didn't seek it out, it just happened to me at the perfect time when Wild Pack was creatively halting," De Anda says. "One thing ending and one thing starting all at the same time and overlapped, and in the end just happened naturally and organically."
Longtime friend and producer Isaiah "Ikey" Owens also offered to help De Anda record an album. De Anda recalls recording basic tracks at Owens' home, later recording at the Compound Studio in Long Beach where previous musical acolytes Cold War Kids and The Mars Volta had recorded their albums. While on tour with Jack White's band in Mexico, Owens passed away in October 2014. His death was a huge loss for the local music community as well as for De Anda, yet Owens' lasting touches on De Anda's album mark it with an added dimension of poignance.
The end result of Owens' and De Anda's collaboration is the five-song EP Ostranenie, just released in early July through Porch Party Records. The album breathes with a romantic, dreamy vibe and combines sonic elements not typically heard in a contemporary indie album: late '60s influences like Mexican crooner Leo Dan, Tropicalia artist Milton Nascimento, and Jeff Tweedy, while switching up his songs in English to Spanish.
Just as he did with WPOC, De Anda aims to not conform to one style or genre and being a musical chameleon. De Anda's group has already played with the likes of Daedelus, Chicano Batman, Bass Drum of Death, Death Hymn Number 9, Froth, and toured extensively through California and Mexico.
And as with WPOC, the rotating line-up of musicians that plays with De Anda is emblematic of his freewheeling approach to keep things fresh and interesting in his live music. It's also a way for De Anda to stay on top of his musical game and not be too comfortable playing with a certain musician. For him, it's always about sounding different and learning new things. "The next record isn't going to sound anything like this record, and the next record after that could be completely different," De Anda explains. "If I want to play with an accordion player one night, and the next night play with someone who's making beats and an MPC, I think those are two valid options for me at any point depending where the music's taking me, or where I want to take the music."
Rudy De Anda plays Viva! Pomona festival July 18th at the Glass House in Pomona. For more info and show dates, go here.
Aimee Murillo is calendar editor and frequently covers the Orange County DIY music scene, film, arts, Latino culture and currently pens the long-running column Trendzilla. Born, raised, and based in Santa Ana, she loves bad movies, punk shows, raising her plants, eating tacos, Selena, and puns.