Alt.Latino Gets Experimental Felix Contreras and Jasmine Garsd, the hosts of NPR's Alt.Latino podcast, share three new songs from incredible female artists, ranging from groovy to sultry, to experimental.
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Alt.Latino Gets Experimental

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Alt.Latino Gets Experimental

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Alt.Latino Gets Experimental

Alt.Latino Gets Experimental

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Felix Contreras and Jasmine Garsd, the hosts of NPR's Alt.Latino podcast, share three new songs from incredible female artists, ranging from groovy to sultry, to experimental.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Amidst all the important information we give you every week to help you stay informed, you know we also like to give you something for your soul. And once a month, we turn to our friends at Alt.Latino for a little soul food, i.e. musical exploration. Felix Contreras and Jasmine Garsd are the hosts of the weekly show about Latino arts and culture. It is called Alt.Latino. They're here in the studio. Hi, guys.

JASMINE GARSD, BYLINE: Hi.

FELIX CONTRERAS, BYLINE: Good morning.

MARTIN: Hi. So, Jasmine, let's start with you, one of your tracks. What are we hearing right now?

GARSD: This is called "Woman Is A Word." And it's by the Honduran-American singer Empress Of, who I'm kind of crazy about. And I think it's a great, like, summer jam.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WOMAN IS A WORD")

EMPRESS OF: (Singing) I'm only an image of what you see. I'm only an image of what you see.

MARTIN: Yeah, that's a summer driving song.

GARSD: Yeah, right?

MARTIN: I can get into that, yeah.

GARSD: Yeah. She's just this awesome fusion of, like, Latino rhythms but these really - she's been called the Honduran Bjork. She's very experimental and just really cool themes and lyrics.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WOMAN IS A WORD")

EMPRESS OF: (Singing) You don't know me. You don't know me. You don't know me. I'm only a woman if woman is a word. I'm only a woman if woman is a word.

MARTIN: All right, well, speaking of experimental, Felix, I understand you brought something a little experimental, groovy, thing. What you got?

GARSD: Oh no.

CONTRERAS: Yes, I did (laughter).

MARTIN: I don't even know what I just said. That sounds like a crazy song. What you got?

CONTRERAS: We're going to play the song first and then I'm going to tell you about the artist. Her name is Xenia Rubinos.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DON'T WANNA BE")

XENIA RUBINOS: (Singing) I am on this place with a golden fist. I won't play but keep you open. Hide a little sliver of this feeling in the mist. I won't play but to keep you open.

CONTRERAS: Xenia Rubinos, she is Cuban and Puerto Rican and she mixes that with this really deep groove, a very expressive voice that seems to change shape depending on the circumstances of the song. But also she works with a lot of odd time signatures, some quirky melodies. Her voice gets even more pliable. She successfully combines all of that stuff in this great new album called "Black Terry Cat." It's out in June. There's a single available. Check out the rest of the song.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DON'T WANNA BE")

RUBINOS: (Singing) Tell me you right now what you mean. I've got things to make your love grow thicker. I'm going planes (ph) that make your headspace bigger. All my stories make your love so sick, make your love heartsick, make you love me, love me, love me.

GARSD: Yeah, she does really, like, mess with the times in a really cool way, right?

CONTRERAS: Yeah.

GARSD: Like it's a little offbeat...

MARTIN: Yeah.

GARSD: ...Her vocals, but it works.

CONTRERAS: Completely.

MARTIN: Oh, that's cool. I like it. OK, Jas, you've got one more song today. What you got?

GARSD: Yeah, well I think, you know, Felix and I both agree that this is a stunner. It's one of my favorite - our favorite - newer artists. It's a Colombian R&B soul singer, Kali Uchis. Just - has she ever released a song that we don't like?

CONTRERAS: No.

GARSD: No.

MARTIN: (Laughter) That was a softball question.

GARSD: It's - fans of Erykah Badu and, like, Billie Holiday and all that kind of croony...

MARTIN: Yeah.

GARSD: ...Style of music will love her. And here she is reinterpreting an absolute classic of Latin ballads, which is "Sabor A Mi," which I have it upon good source that when Felix was a wedding band singer, he played this song often. It's like...

MARTIN: I'm not even paying attention to the rest of that sentence because I'm fixated on the fact that you played in wedding bands, which is awesome.

CONTRERAS: Not a singer, just played congas and percussion in a fake tuxedo.

GARSD: Also "Sabor A Mi," Felix - but let's just explain that "Sabor A Mi" is like if in a Latin wedding, you have to have "Sabor A Mi." It's like, I don't know.

MARTIN: It's like "YMCA?"

GARSD: Or like "Great Balls Of Fire."

MARTIN: Like, the white people's reception?

CONTRERAS: It's - yeah, it's - it is a classic. Yeah, it is a classic. It's a very romantic ballad that's done by a lot of different people, most notably this band called El Chicano, 1970s. Just - it's everywhere. It's omnipresent. And she did a really cool remake.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SABOR A MI")

KALI UCHIS: (Singing in Spanish).

GARSD: Felix almost starts purring...

(LAUGHTER)

GARSD: ...When he hears this cover.

MARTIN: That's gorgeous. And she does hang onto those notes like Erykah Badu, you know? She just, like, clings onto them and, like, gets all the good stuff out. That's sexy. OK, Jasmine Garsd, Felix Contreras have yet again given me all kinds of new stuff for my playlist. Thanks, guys. They are the hosts of NPR Music's Alt.Latino. See you next time.

GARSD: See you.

CONTRERAS: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SABOR A MI")

UCHIS: (Singing in Spanish).

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