Gaby Moreno On Leaving Home And Making It In The Music Industry The Guatemalan singer/songwriter joins Stretch & Bobbito to talk about the ups and downs of navigating the music industry as an independent artist and what she's doing to help victims of the Volcán de Fuego disaster in her home country.
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Gaby Moreno On Leaving Home And Making It In The Music Industry

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Gaby Moreno On Leaving Home And Making It In The Music Industry

Gaby Moreno On Leaving Home And Making It In The Music Industry

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GABY MORENO: My mom has a Mother's Day card that I gave her. And it says, Mom, I love you. What are you going to do when I'm older and I'm living in the United States?

(LAUGHTER)

ADRIAN BARTOS, HOST:

Hint, hint.

MORENO: Yeah. Like, at 8 years old, I was already, like, telling her, like, yeah, I'm going leave.

ROBERT GARCIA, HOST:

Yo, that's crazy.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

BARTOS: Hey, everyone. This Stretch Armstrong.

GARCIA: (Speaking Spanish).

(LAUGHTER)

BARTOS: You are checking out WHAT'S GOOD WITH STRETCH & BOBBITO.

GARCIA: No doubt. And today's guest is none other, representing Los Angeles, all the way back from back in the day to Guatemala, Gaby Moreno. Aplauso, aplauso. Stretch, we have known a lot of indie artists in our time. Gaby is the sort of embodiment of all that but (unintelligible) out of the hip-hop realm. She sings in both English and Spanish. She does a blend of blues, soul, Latin pop and folk. She started as a young'un in Guatemala, singing onstage. We'll get to that later. But then she moved here to the United States, and she has been rocking ever since.

BARTOS: Yes. She did that at 18 - not an easy thing to do at any age, even more amazing as she's done it all without compromising her style. She has won a Latin Grammy.

GARCIA: Mmm.

BARTOS: She's been nominated for a Grammy.

GARCIA: Uh.

BARTOS: Plus she composed the theme song to the NBC hit series "Parks And Recreation."

GARCIA: And didn't even sing on it.

(LAUGHTER)

BARTOS: It's just instrumental.

GARCIA: How crazy that? So, I mean, beyond that, she's a humanitarian. She's done outreach for disaster victims in her homeland of Guatemala. She's had some ups and downs herself in her career. And she is rocking at this point. She is with us. Don't go nowhere. Gaby Moreno - drum roll, please.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

BARTOS: And we're back. Joining us now is singer-songwriter Gaby Moreno.

Gaby, welcome to WHAT'S GOOD.

GARCIA: Aplauso, aplauso.

MORENO: Thank you. Gracias.

GARCIA: Gaby, we're going to start off with a song that marks an important point in your career.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ESCONDIDOS")

MORENO: (Singing in Spanish).

GARCIA: All right. So the song was "Escondidos," which you wrote for the John Lennon Songwriting Contest. And, home girl, you copped, like, a good, swift $20,000. I imagine that changed your life and possibly your career.

MORENO: (Laughter) It definitely did. First of all, it was the first song that I had written in Spanish, believe it or not.

GARCIA: Crazy.

MORENO: I mean, I had been here in LA already seven years. Someone said to me, well, you can't deny your roots. You've got to go and do something in Spanish. Got together with two friends of mine, Victor Indrizzo, Ari Shine - we went in the studio, and we recorded the song and submitted it. And, man, it was crazy when we got the call and found out that we had won the entire contest.

GARCIA: And then from there, like, just a major shift I'm imagining...

MORENO: Yes. After that...

GARCIA: ...In the course of Gaby Moreno.

MORENO: Well, I remember that with the money that they gave us I was able to to fund my first album, which I - yeah, I recorded on my own. One of the prizes was, oh God, like getting a thousand CDs from Disc Makers.

(LAUGHTER)

MORENO: So I thought that this was so cool. I get 1,000 CDs. I don't have to pay for that because, you know, that's another thing that can be very costly.

GARCIA: For people that don't know, Disc Makers manufacturers records. They manufacture CDs...

MORENO: Yeah.

GARCIA: ...Cassettes.

BARTOS: If they still exist.

GARCIA: No, they do. They're still around. Yeah.

MORENO: No, they still do.

GARCIA: They're still around. Yeah, for independent artists, that's huge...

MORENO: Yes.

GARCIA: ...To have access to 1,000 pressings of CDs, which...

MORENO: Absolutely...

GARCIA: ...You can sell at your shows and whatever.

MORENO: ...Because it can cost up to like two grand, you know, to go and manufacture CDs. So that was pretty cool. And I remember I took 200 of those CDs. And back then, there was this book called "The Indie Bible." And it was just a reference book for independent artists where you could see, you know - it would list either magazines, radio stations, music critics, things like that. And I just started sending my CDs out to people. And I sent out 200 CDs. And I just heard back from one person.

(LAUGHTER)

GARCIA: Oh, my God.

MORENO: Yeah. But that one person that I heard back from...

GARCIA: Who was that?

MORENO: ...Turned out to be my booking agent for a couple years in Europe. So...

GARCIA: Really?

MORENO: Yeah. So that's how I started playing in Europe. I got to go to New York and open for Fergie. That was another part of the prize (laughter) and meet Yoko Ono.

GARCIA: Whoa.

MORENO: Yeah, that was amazing. And I even got to go to Liverpool and play at The Cavern where the Beatles started playing.

BARTOS: Amazing.

MORENO: It was just incredible to meet Yoko Ono and, yeah, be a part of that whole world.

BARTOS: Gaby, how old were you when this happened?

MORENO: I was - let me see - I think I was 25, 26. Yeah.

BARTOS: Because you've been performing since you were - what? - like, 10?

MORENO: Oh, yeah, yeah. So I was born in Guatemala, raised there. I mean, I started singing when I was like 6 or 7 years old. But when I was 10, I started singing, like, you know, professionally on stage in front of big audiences. My father was a promoter back then, and he would bring international artists to Guatemala. So, for example, one time he brought Ricky Martin, and I got to open for him. And other artists...

(LAUGHTER)

GARCIA: Yo, that is crazy.

BARTOS: How big was the audience?

GARCIA: Like 80,000?

MORENO: No, no, no. No, but it was like a good 10,000 people. I mean...

BARTOS: And you were 10 years old?

MORENO: ...It was a big deal. And I was 10 years old and - yeah.

BARTOS: Wow.

GARCIA: How do you go to school the next day? Or do you just take the whole week off?

(LAUGHTER)

MORENO: No. I would...

BARTOS: Permasmile (ph)...

MORENO: Yeah.

BARTOS: The week-long smile.

MORENO: I went to an all-girl Catholic school. Some girls were kind of mean and bullying me about it. Other people were nice and, you know, really happy for me and...

GARCIA: You want to hear something crazy? When I was 13, I did a talent show. I went to a Catholic school as a kid as well. And I sang "Yesterday" by the Beatles. It's just...

(LAUGHTER)

BARTOS: Oh, my - wow.

GARCIA: But you know what, though? It was crazy. There were second-graders and third-graders asking for my autograph...

MORENO: Really?

GARCIA: It's, you know, like in front of, like, 100 people, nothing - no big deal. But just like - I was like, what? It was just crazy. So were you signing autographs at age 10?

MORENO: Yes. I was actually. I do - I remember very well when I sort of did my debut at this national theater in Guatemala. And afterwards, all these people were asking me for my autograph. And I was like, what? What is this? What do you mean? I need to, like, sign my name for you? I didn't get it.

(LAUGHTER)

BARTOS: Now, when we mention this Ricky Martin experience, you had kind of a dismissive laugh about it because obviously you hadn't come into your own as an artist yet. What age were you when you realized you really could sing and then at what point in your career did you start to get a sense of where you wanted to go with that ability?

MORENO: I mean, I just remember throughout my teenage years just singing everywhere. You know, they would ask me to sing at weddings and first communions and then I would, you know, do the occasional festival and this or that. But I wasn't really writing my own songs. You know, I was really - I was into musicals, I was into, of course, the great divas - Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey and all that. But when I picked up the guitar, I think that's when things started changing for me because I started writing songs. I started listening to a lot of blues artists and jazz and soul and really getting into that.

When I finished high school, I told my mom I need to get out of here. I need to find opportunities somewhere else. You know, I just - again, also because I loved singing in English and wanting to come here to the United States and do something here. So I enrolled in a music school here in LA at Musicians Institute. I started playing around town everywhere. Oh man, I've played in every possible venue you can imagine in LA.

(LAUGHTER)

MORENO: But that's one side of the story. The other side of the story is that I actually came to the states already signed by a record label. I was signed by Warner Brothers when I was 18. But that didn't last very long. Back in those days, like, a new president would come in and then they would just drop all the new artists that they had signed. So that happened to me. But they had, you know, given me a hefty advance. So I used that to pay...

(LAUGHTER)

MORENO: ...You know, the school and live and stay here.

BARTOS: Sometimes getting dropped from a major label is the best thing that could happen, right?

MORENO: Back then when, you know, they used to have the money to do it, I guess.

BARTOS: That's right (laughter).

MORENO: Now you're even lucky when they give you an advance.

GARCIA: Arriving in LA, what was the difference on a day-to-day basis of your reality? OK, now I'm in LA...

MORENO: Right.

GARCIA: ...I'm signed. But now, you know, you get dropped. So, like, there's, like, a shift...

MORENO: Yeah.

GARCIA: ...In your comfort zone.

MORENO: Absolutely. I think what really helped me was that I was going to this music school and that I met a bunch of other people that had - that were also foreigners, that had also come here to pursue music. And we sort of found comfort in each other. And after this label, I was signed again by Epic - Sony - and I was there for a year. And then again, same thing happened.

GARCIA: Oh, man.

MORENO: It was really tough, you know, to have that happen two times, you know, in - when I was, like, 18 and then 20 years old. And always thinking like, oh, man, you know, I'm about to, like, do my record finally. And then nothing happens. So it was...

GARCIA: Did you get to keep the advance?

MORENO: Yes, I did.

(LAUGHTER)

BARTOS: Hell yeah. Gaby, you mentioned the divas - Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston, obviously American artists.

MORENO: Yeah.

BARTOS: In an LA Times article, you talked about how Latin music - you just sort of associated that with your parents. That's my parents' music. That's boring. I think we all either embraced the music of our older siblings and parents or we run as fast away from it as possible.

GARCIA: (Laughter).

MORENO: It's true, yeah.

BARTOS: What made you come back around to it and embrace it? And what was, you know, what was that journey like?

MORENO: So what happened was I - in 2005, 2006, somewhere there, I started playing at this place in LA called Largo. It's a great venue. I was doing a residency with a friend of mine. And he told me, you know what? Why don't you - why don't we start playing like some old songs from Latin America? And I said, you know what? Of course. I know a couple songs that I could bring to you. And these were my American friends, see, they didn't really know the songs. So I thought, oh, this is cool, like, I can introduce this music to these people. And that seemed like something special to me. So I started playing the song "Quizas, Quizas, Quizas."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "QUIZAS, QUIZAS, QUIZAS")

MORENO: (Singing in Spanish).

And the response was amazing. You know, people were like, oh, man, we love when you sing in Spanish, and you should do more of that. That's kind of how it all began. And, really, I just started appreciating it.

BARTOS: And your parents were like, we told you.

(LAUGHTER)

MORENO: Yeah.

GARCIA: They were like hugging each other like, finally.

(LAUGHTER)

MORENO: Yes

BARTOS: She's come home.

(LAUGHTER)

MORENO: Yeah, I did get a lot of that.

BARTOS: So you've been on the U.S. for a long time now. What is your relationship with Guatemala now?

MORENO: I mean, I still feel 100 percent Guatemala. My whole family is there. I'm here by myself. So it's been 18 years that I've been here. It kind of feels like I never really left. I'm here, and this is where I work. Of course, this is where I live. But when I go home, feels like, OK, my heart is still there and my culture, my roots, my traditions, my family - everything.

GARCIA: I've read that you recently did a benefit concert to raise money to help out with the pulse Volcan de Fuego in Guatemala...

MORENO: That's right.

GARCIA: ...When that volcano happened, which did not get a lot of press on the national level. What was going through your mind, like, were any personal friends or families affected in the nearby towns?

MORENO: They were not. They were not, thankfully. They - Volcan de Fuego is, you know, far away enough that it didn't affect really anybody in Guatemala City. But, of course, those who got - who were - well, communities, entire communities, villages that were like right below the volcano, really poor families, and that was heartbreaking. It was heartbreaking to see that the Guatemalan government didn't do anything to warn these people, you know, beforehand that the volcano was having activity.

BARTOS: Were they aware of the activity?

MORENO: They were aware of the activity. And they actually - there's a really high-end golfing resort there. It's actually a hotel as well. And those people were warned, you know. And they evacuated, of course. So, you know, you hear those stories and it's like, really? Oh, my God.

GARCIA: Yeah. To give people context as well, I mean, Volcan de Fuego was like a - it was like an immediate, you know, (imitating explosion).

MORENO: No, it was impossible to escape - impossible.

GARCIA: Exactly.

MORENO: It just completely buried entire villages. And up to this day, they believe that there are still thousands buried in there. And nobody has done anything to go and retrieve those bodies. And it's just - it's horrible. Meanwhile, the people that did survive are just living in shelters, and they have nothing. And some of those people, like, lost entire family members. I mean, up to - I'm telling you up to 40 family members. I mean, crazy. They lost everything. So I decided to start doing these concerts - benefit concerts - just to raise some funds to send to some nonprofits that are helping build homes for them.

GARCIA: Bless you. It's a great cause to not only raise money, but also raise awareness.

MORENO: Raise awareness.

GARCIA: Positive energy and thought is being transferred throughout the universe towards the people of Guatemala. I'm going to change gears here a little bit. In your own narrative, I mean, I'm sure people ask you all the time, like, wow, you speak English so well without an accent, you know, do you adopt an accent at times depending on who you're talking to or did you learn English at a very young age by virtue of listening to, you know, blues and soul and funk? Like, what's your story there?

MORENO: Well, I always loved, loved, loved speaking English, even if I didn't really know it that well. I don't know if that makes any sense.

GARCIA: (Laughter).

MORENO: Let me tell you my story. When I was a kid and I was playing with my Barbies and my ponies, I would - this is really funny - I would be in my room playing, and my mom would come in - I mean, she told me this years later. She told me this. She's like, you'd be there in your room playing, and you'd be like making up these words. And I'd be like, what is that? And I would tell my mom, that's English. They're speaking English. Like, this is what it would sound - (unintelligible) - like that. My mom was like, what are you doing? I said, I want to learn English. I love English.

GARCIA: That's adorable.

MORENO: So at a very young age, I started reading in English. I - you know, all the movies that I would watch would be in English. And, of course, the records that I would listen to were in English. I had always a dictionary with me. And so I would be, you know, listening to songs...

GARCIA: Get down, Gaby.

MORENO: ...And - yeah, listening to these old blues songs and like, you know, really studying the lyrics. And whenever there was a word I didn't understand, I would go to the dictionary. And in school, you know, we had our English class. And I was always really good at it just because I just - I don't know, I just really loved it. My mom has a little Mother's Day card that I gave her when I was like 8. And it says, Mom, I love you. What are you going to do when I'm older and I'm living in the United States?

(LAUGHTER)

BARTOS: Intense.

MORENO: Yeah, like at 8 years old, I was already like telling her like, yeah, I'm going to leave. I just always knew that I was going to come here somehow.

GARCIA: That's wonderful. That's wonderful.

BARTOS: So, you know, for me, growing up in New York and America, the blues would fall into the basket of music your parents are into. So for you, what was it about the blues that was so magnetic?

MORENO: Oh, man. I just remember the first time I heard it. OK. I was - my parents took me and my sister to New York because I think it was my sister's 15-year birthday and sort of, like, instead of throwing her a quinceanera party, they said, oh, we'll take you to New York. I was 13 by the time. I was walking on Time Square. And I heard this lady busking. And she was singing, you know, something that I had never heard in my life. And it really captivated me. And I remember just standing there for like 20 minutes listening to her. When she was finished, I went up to her and I asked her, like, what's the style that you're singing? What is it? And she said to me, well, that's the blues, honey. And I was like, oh, my God, the blues.

(LAUGHTER)

MORENO: The heavens parted. And I was like, what is this heavenly music? So I went to a record store. Of course, they had the blues aisle. I bought compilation CDs because I didn't know any artists. Oh, man. I remember bringing home to Guatemala like 20 CDs and just - I would lock myself in my room and just listen to the songs. And then I got into like Nina Simone and Ella Fitzgerald, you know, the blues kind of like into like jazz and soul and all these other genres.

BARTOS: And you're a young teenager. That's incredible. That's just so - that's just not a very typical experience, no matter where you are, for a teenager.

MORENO: It really wasn't. And I got into - and I also got into like Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin and, you know, yeah. I remember I had posters of all these artists. And my mom would be like, who are these people?

BARTOS: Your mom was like, what about what about Broadway musicals? That was last year, mom.

MORENO: Yeah, exactly. That was last year.

GARCIA: That's so...

BARTOS: I'm listening to Ella. Chill.

MORENO: Yeah.

(LAUGHTER)

BARTOS: Gaby, let's talk about what is likely your most recognizable song, even though we don't even hear your voice on it.

GARCIA: (Laughter).

MORENO: Which one?

(SOUNDBITE OF "PARKS AND RECREATION" THEME SONG_)

MORENO: Oh. Doodle-do (ph), doodle-do, doodle-do, do-doodle-do (ph).

(SOUNDBITE OF "PARKS AND RECREATION" THEME SONG)

BARTOS: That, of course, is the "Parks And Rec" theme song, which you co-wrote for the NBC show "Parks And Rec," which ran from 2009 to 2015. That's quite a long run and a pretty big deal. How did that happen? And, you know, we know what the John Lennon prize did for you. What did this do for you?

GARCIA: Hopefully you got more than $20,000 for that one.

MORENO: Syndication, syndication heaven.

BARTOS: More zeroes, more zeroes, mas zero, mas zero.

MORENO: Yeah, this came through a manager I was working with at the time. And he received an email, and it was an email that, you know, was sent to a lot of different composers. And I said, well, you know, instrumentals for me are really easy to write. Once they tell me, oh, it has to have words and it has to be about this and about that, then it gets a little, oh, OK. You know, I got - you know, just takes a lot more work. So I thought, OK, I'm just going to try this. So I just grabbed my guitar, and I came up with like the chord progression.

And I called a friend of mine, Vincent Jones, who is an incredible piano player. And he had a studio. And he helped me finish it. And then we added, you know, all these orchestral elements to it. You just never know. It's kind of like such a, you know, shot in the dark, right? So there's like 200 other composers, well-known composers that are going to submit for this. You just never know. And then we got a call like a couple of weeks later, and they said, oh, you made it to the final 60. And we're like, OK, yay. And then when they called us and told us that we got it, man, I really couldn't believe it.

BARTOS: Do you know any of the composers that you beat out, you know who they were?

MORENO: Oh, my God, you know who was one of them? Van Dyke Parks.

GARCIA: Really?

MORENO: Yes. To this day...

(LAUGHTER)

MORENO: To this day, he won't let it go. He always jokes about it. It's so funny.

(LAUGHTER)

BARTOS: You're referencing Van Dyke Parks, who's the legendary songwriter and arranger who's worked with Frank Sinatra, Randy Newman, U2 and many others, including yourself.

MORENO: That's right.

BARTOS: How did that come about?

MORENO: So...

BARTOS: He was mad...

GARCIA: He was mad...

BARTOS: ...That you beat him so he stood outside your crib...

GARCIA: Who is this woman?

(LAUGHTER)

MORENO: No. No. We had already been working at that time. I met him - I met Van Dyke, like, 10 years ago. So we have a new album coming out later this year. We started working on this project 10 years ago, kind of like an on-and-off project where I send him ideas of songs from, you know, old songs from Latin America, and then he would send me back these beautiful arrangements. We did one concert together in Denmark at the Roskilde Festival with the Danish Youth Orchestra. And we presented these songs, you know, for the first time live. It was amazing. And it wasn't until last year that I said to him, OK, let's really - let's do this. We got to somehow put this record out.

GARCIA: Well, let's hear one song from the album. And it's very timely. It's titled "The Immigrant."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE IMMIGRANTS")

MORENO: (Singing) So much trouble in the home of the brave and the land of the free. Ooh. Am I an immigrant or am I a new slave made for all brutality? I don't think so. Is it that man has lost his reason? He can't even blame the heat. They're moving like jackals in the hunting season.

GARCIA: This is actually a cover of Calypso musician David Rudder's 1998 song of the same name...

MORENO: Mm-hmm. Yes.

GARCIA: ...Which was written in response to the attack of Haitian immigrant Abner Louima at the hands of the New York City Police Department. Just hearing Abner's name makes me shudder because I recall...

MORENO: You remember.

GARCIA: ...The morning that the news broke about the way they violated his body. They violated his person. They violated an entire community. And, you know, that - it's remarkable because most times when the police step over their boundaries in terms of human rights or brutality or whatever, most times they get acquitted, you know, in the United States. And in this case, the police officer actually was sentenced to 30 years in prison. So a remarkable time in New York's history and U.S. history. In any event...

MORENO: Yes.

GARCIA: ...Can you talk us through how you and Van Dyke came to cover this song? And were you aware of the entire history of Abner at that point?

MORENO: No, I wasn't. I came to the United States in the year 2000. And that story just didn't break in Guatemala, so we didn't really hear about it. And this was in 2008. Oh my God, there were some immigration issues happening in Arizona. And I even wrote a song about it called "Ave Que Emigra." And we just thought that it was kind of a hot political topic at the time. And he sent to me this song. He's like, listen to the song. It's called "The Immigrants." And this is very timely and we've got to do it. And I was like absolutely. You know, this is amazing. And the words, of course, were very - they were directed towards what had happened in New York. So, like, the first line says so much trouble in the home of the brave and the land of the NYPD. For this version that we just put out, we decided to change just a few lyrics to make it more about, you know, the entire country and not just New York and make it...

GARCIA: Sure.

MORENO: I mean - and it's still amazing that it's still so relevant, you know, what's been happening also at the border with the families being separated. And we decided to also donate proceeds from the downloads to a foundation called CARECEN. It's helping provide legal services to the children that have been separated from their parents. So it was amazing how it, you know, how it all worked out that 10 years ago we started working on the song and then now we release it and yet it's still so relevant. It's unbelievable.

BARTOS: It seems like the moment's calling for it.

MORENO: Yeah.

GARCIA: Gaby, you've been phenomenal.

MORENO: Thank you.

GARCIA: We're going to take a quick break and come back with the Impression Session. All right.

BARTOS: (Laughter).

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

BARTOS: That means one thing - it's time for the Impression Session.

GARCIA: Here's how it works, Gaby. We play a track, you react, simple as that - dat-adat-dat (ph).

MORENO: All right.

GARCIA: Stretch, you want to go first?

BARTOS: Yeah. Here we go.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MONDO BONGO")

THE MESCALEROS: (Singing) La, la, la, la, la. I was patrolling a Pachinko nude noodle model parlor in the nefarious zone, hanging out with insects under ducting. The CIA was on the phone. Well, la, la, la, la, la, such is life.

MORENO: Wow, that's beautiful. I've got to say I've never heard that song. Who is that by?

GARCIA: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

BARTOS: That song is by one of my heroes, Joe Strummer. And that's Joe Strummer and The Mescaleros. Of course, Joe Strummer is the - well, one of the two vocalist leaders of The Clash, my second-favorite band of all time.

MORENO: Yeah.

BARTOS: Yeah, so what do you think about that?

MORENO: Beautiful, kind of - I wanted to hear more of what he was saying with the lyrics. But, I mean, there seems to be some Latin influence in the music.

BARTOS: Right. That's - it's a tango. While he's using real words, it's quite jumbled and open to interpretation and kind of mysterious, almost like the way you were speaking fake English when you were 8 years old.

MORENO: Exactly. At first, I was like, is this a joke on me?

(LAUGHTER)

MORENO: I was trying to figure out what the words are. That's - OK. Interesting. What's it called?

BARTOS: It's called "Mongo Bongo."

MORENO: "Mongo Bongo." Yeah, I was trying to figure out what that was. "Mongo Bongo," that's beautiful.

BARTOS: I love that record. Joe Strummer was really open to influences internationally and was a fierce advocate for people facing injustice throughout his career as a - first as a punk rocker and then beyond. And certainly, there's a Latin connection there, so I thought it would be nice to play for you.

MORENO: Yeah. Oh, that's great. Thank you. I'm going to write that down.

GARCIA: All right. So now it's my turn, Gaby.

MORENO: OK.

GARCIA: Queue it up.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CLAVELITO COLORADO")

FAMILY ATLANTICA: (Singing in Spanish).

MORENO: Oh, incredible, very hypnotizing.

GARCIA: The artist is Family Atlantica. The song is "Clavelito Colorado." A U.K.-based band all with members from West Africa and northern parts of South America and, you know, with a number of different layers of instrumentation. The reason why I played it for you is, A, it's just a gorgeous song.

MORENO: It is, yeah. It reminded me of like (speaking Spanish), traditional music from Chile. It's beautiful.

GARCIA: You left Guatemala. And, you know, there are all these amazing artists from Latin America that - I mean, you've been fortunate. You've been able to come to the U.S. and sort of, you know, reach audiences on a mainstream level. But then there's all these artists that, you know, most of the people who love music, who might very well love their music, they just - they're just completely unknown. They stay local, which is not a bad thing. It's a great thing to be domestic and not international. But I think some of these records scream to be heard and shared.

MORENO: Yeah. Oh, my God. Thank you so much. That's what I love. I love it when we can share with each other new music or new old music. I live for that. I really love it. That's why I go to record stores and try to discover new music that I can get into and be inspired by.

GARCIA: Nice.

BARTOS: Gaby, it's been great getting to know you better, getting to hear your history...

GARCIA: Gaby.

BARTOS: ...Your music, et cetera.

MORENO: Likewise.

BARTOS: I just want to say muchas gracias for hanging out with us. It was really fun.

MORENO: Thank you, guys.

GARCIA: Muchos exitos.

MORENO: Gracias, really. It was so fun. Thank you, guys.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

BARTOS: That's our show. This podcast was produced by Michelle Lanz, edited by Jordana Hochman and N'jeri Eaton. And our executive producer is Abby O'Neil.

GARCIA: If you' like the show, you can hear more at npr.org. And please go to Apple podcasts and rate, review and subscribe. That's how we know you're listening.

BARTOS: Seriously. Seriously. And you can follow us on Twitter @stretchandbob or Instagram @stretchandbobbito.

GARCIA: Peace.

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