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This Week On Alt.Latino: David Bowie

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This Week On Alt.Latino: David Bowie


This Week On Alt.Latino: David Bowie

This Week On Alt.Latino: David Bowie

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NPR's Rachel Martin sits down with Alt.Latino hosts Felix Contreras and Jasmine Garsd to talk about new music from the new year and share some Latin tributes to David Bowie.


It's time for our first visit of the year with our friends at Alt.Latino. Felix Contreras and Jasmine Garsd host the weekly podcast about Latino arts and culture. And they come this week with some new music and a tribute. You guys, welcome back.



MARTIN: OK, let's start with new music. Jas (ph), tell us what we're listening to right now. This is from Colombia?

GARSD: Yeah, this is a producer that we met when we were traveling in Colombia. And we ended up having breakfast with this producer Richard Blair. He's in this really famous project Sidestepper, which kind of mixes Colombian typical beats with electronica. This song is called "La Flor Y La Voz," "The Flower And The Voice."


SIDESTEPPER: (Singing in Spanish).

MARTIN: That's lovely.

GARSD: Right?

MARTIN: Yeah, I like it a lot.

GARSD: It's very, like...

MARTIN: It's mellow.

GARSD: ...Waking up in the morning...


GARSD: ...And seeing the mountains.

CONTRERAS: It's a very clever and innovative mixture of influences. This album, by the way, will be featured on our First Listen series, where you can stream an album a week before it's released. And you can start listening to this stream on January 29.

MARTIN: OK, that's exciting. All right, Felix, your turn. Are we going to stay in Latin America for your next pick?


MARTIN: Sort of, kind of?

CONTRERAS: We're going to go to Austin.


MARTIN: OK, close enough.

GARSD: Same thing.


CONTRERAS: Austin, where the mix of cultures and music is always, to me, just struck me as so unique because it's a mix of country, rock, blues, Mexican music, all of this stuff.

There's a great new album out by a singer named Carrie Rodriguez. The album's called "Lola." And to me, my ears, it is one of the defining sounds of Austin, where you mix Mexican-American culture with all the things we've been talking about. This is a track called "I Dreamed I Was Lola Beltran."


JIMMY RODRIGUEZ: (Singing) I dreamed I was Lola Beltran, and you were Javier Solis.

CONTRERAS: These are two classical ranchera mariachi singers. Think passionate lyrics and love. It's just a great, great love song with this perfect bicultural touch.


RODRIGUEZ: (Singing) While you sang to me.

MARTIN: That was not what I expected it to be. First, it's English, which - you guys don't bring in that much stuff that's English language.


MARTIN: So I knew what was going on in the storyline, first of all.

CONTRERAS: (Laughter).

MARTIN: And it's far - I don't know. There's kind of pop sensibility to it.

GARSD: Yeah.

CONTRERAS: She's got a very, very unique place in music. And jazz fans will be interested to know Bill Frisell, the great guitar player...


CONTRERAS: ...Is on this track. He's on the whole album.

MARTIN: Nice. It was a big week in music, and we can't finish up without referencing the passing of David Bowie. You guys paid tribute to him on your show, I understand.

GARSD: Yeah. You know, David Bowie's reach and influence throughout all the musical genres was huge, you know, whether you're talking about electronica or jazz or blues or Latin music. And we visited with several artists who have been influenced by him and who have covered him. And we brought two songs that illustrate that. The first one is by one of Felix's favorite bands.

CONTRERAS: It's an all-female Chicana punk band from San Antonio called Girl in a Coma, and we've had them on the show before. One of their earlier albums is called "Adventures In Coverland," and they covered David Bowie's "As The World Falls Down" from the film "Labyrinth."


GIRL IN A COMA: (Singing) There's such a fooled heart beating so fast in search of new dreams, a love that will last within your heart. I'll place the moon within your heart. As the pain sweeps through, makes no sense for you. Every thrill is gone. Wasn't too much fun at all, but I'll be there for you as the world falls down.

MARTIN: Cool. And you have another one?

GARSD: Yeah. I brought Brazilian vocalist Seu Jorge. He covered a lot of David Bowie's songs for the film "The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou."

And I think it's great because Seu Jorge is such a - the personification, really, of Brazilian music with all its happiness but its core of melancholy, which is actually very compatible with David Bowie's music, which was - it could be happy. It could be raucous. It could be feisty or danceable, but there was, like, a core of melancholy to David Bowie, I think. And so when Seu Jorge covered "Life On Mars?" with that gravelly, sad voice, it was one of the best covers that I have ever heard.


SEU JORGE: (Singing in Portuguese).

MARTIN: That's haunting...

GARSD: Yeah.

MARTIN: ...In all the right ways.

MARTIN: Felix Contreras and Jasmine Garsd. You can hear these songs and lots more on their podcast Alt.Latino. It's available from wherever you download podcasts. You two, it's so fun to see you always. Thanks for being in-studio.

CONTRERAS: Thank you.

GARSD: We love being here. Thank you.


SEU JORGE: (Singing in Portuguese).

MARTIN: This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin.

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This Week On Alt.Latino: New Music, And Remembering A Legend

This Week On Alt.Latino: New Music, And Remembering A Legend

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Girl In A Coma. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Girl In A Coma.

Courtesy of the artist

If you think it's strange that we pay homage to David Bowie on Alt.Latino this week, think again. Bowie has had a tremendous fan base throughout Latin America, and he's been a strong musical influence. His talent was so great, and his work so diverse, it left few musical genres untouched.

Bowie means different things to different people. For Felix Contreras, growing up in the '70s in California, Bowie was always playing in the background. But he says really became a fan when the singer started experimenting with R&B and soul.

I discovered Bowie through the film Labrynth, and later came across Earthlings and worked my way back. He became part of my everyday sonic landscape. Whatever rough adolescent territory I was navigating, I could pop on headphones and travel to Mars. For many friends who were discovering their own sexual identity as teenagers, early Bowie also offered a glimmer of hope that life could be fun and wild and filled with color.

What many don't know is that, if Latinos were tuning in to Bowie, he was also tuning in to us. One of Bowie's favorite books was Junot Diaz's The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao. He was a fan of Brazilian singer Seu Jorge. In fact, he said Jorge's covers of his music made him rediscover some of his own work. "Had Seu Jorge not recorded my songs in Portuguese," he said, "I would never have heard this new level of beauty which he has imbued them with."

This week on Alt.Latino, in addition to new music, we're spinning some Latin Bowie tributes. We hope you'll write in and share your own favorite Bowie memories and songs.

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