Grammy-winning multicultural band Grupo Fantasma is celebrating their 19th year together and have re-captured the world’s attention with a brand new album.
After a five-year hiatus, the band returned to the studio with producer/engineer Carlos “El Lovo” Bedoya (ChocQuibTown, Beyoncé) to create American Music Vol. VII (out on Blue Corn Music), a 13-track collection that addresses the concept of identity in America while refreshing their multi-ethnic, widely appealing sound.
Grupo Fantasma recently sat down with Musical Notes Global to talk all about the album, their collaboration with producer/engineer Carlos “El Loco” Bedoya, and more. Check out the full interview below.
MNGBlog: Congratulations on your new album American Music Vol. VII! What does the album represent for you?
Grupo Fantasma: Our new album represents the 7th chapter in this band’s existence. It represents yet another evolution of the group as we continue to grow and develop our sound and broaden our horizons. After 19 years as a group it is always a challenge to dig deeper and find new material, inspiration and sounds. This album showcases our abilities, as songwriters and musicians more than ever before and also was an opportunity for us to collaborate in the writing and to work with a new producer, Carlos “El Loco” Bedoya who guided the whole process. As a native of Colombia as well as a highly regarded and capable musician, producer and engineer, he was able to bring his own experiences and capabilities to the table.
MNGBlog: How did it feel to get back into the studio after a five-year break?
GF: It felt great to get back in the studio to work on this record. While the band has been quite busy working on individual projects as producers, writers and performers and as other bands (Brownout/Money Chicha) it was refreshing to come back to this format. Everyone was able to bring their new discoveries, techniques and sounds that were developed in other projects and combine them with the Fantasma sounds further enriching and developing the creative process.
MNGBlog: How did your collaboration with Carlos "El Loco" Bedoya come about?
GF: Our guitarist Beto Martinez met Loco during his work on the Superfonicos record which he recorded parts of at his “Lechehouse” studio. Jaime Ospina, the vocalist/front man of the group was childhood friends with Loco from Bogota and brought him in to help mix a few Superfonicos tracks. After hanging out and working together for a couple days the connection was made and after looking up his recording credits we were all impressed by his history. When we finally decided to get busy on this album we kicked around several producers who we wanted to work with and his name came up. We had a conference call and after some discussion of process, budget and goals we all decided that he would be an excellent candidate for our album. We couldn’t be happier with the results! His enthusiasm and energy was infectious and his skills and instincts as a producer, mixer and engineer were spot on. Not to mention the chemistry between him and the group was great. Everyone hit it off right away.
MNGBlog: How do you think this album is similar to and/or different than, your previous six?
GF: This record is similar in that it builds upon the foundations we established in our previous albums. It definitely has the strong Cumbia and funk sound as well as our trademark horn, guitar and percussive elements that are the trademark of Grupo Fantasma. Where it differs is in the collaborative and inclusive writing process. Over the years our writing and compositional process has expanded and allows more for the contributions of all the individual band members and the producer. I think we all have so much trust and respect for each other’s sounds, talent and ears now that we were better able to work together efficiently than ever before. Additionally Loco was able to contribute his knowledge of Colombian music, keyboard/music theory, pop music, and his capacity as a native speaker of Spanish to coax even more out of the band. Finally the presence of numerous special guests from Josh Baca (Texmaniacs) to Jaime Ospina (Superfonicos) Tomar Williams (Tomar and the FCs) and fellow groups Locos por Juana and Ozomatli allowed for a diverse sound that we felt really reflected a broad expanse of experiences and sounds from Colombia and Mexico/Central America to Miami, Texas and Los Angeles.
MNGBlog: 2019 marks your 19th year together. How does it feel to have been together for so long?
GF: It feels great that our band has managed to stay musically relevant for 19 years and that we are still able to laugh together and enjoy one another’s company and still get down to business when necessary.
MNGBlog: What is one of the most important things you have learned from working together?
GF: I think patience and humility are the biggest lessons we’ve gained over the years. Working with so many strong personalities and with such a large group wouldn’t be possible without these crucial skills.
MNGBlog: What are you most looking forward to in the years ahead?
GF: There are so many things that we have to look forward to! Our 20th anniversary is next year and we’re traveling to Russia and Turkey this summer for the first time ever so that’s exciting too. Also our many side projects have a lot of things in the works. We’re also excited to see what other kinds of unexpected things might arise, new projects, new sounds and collaborations. Siempre Pa’lante!
To celebrate their new album, Grupo Fantasma will perform at 8PM tomorrow, April 10, at the Brooklyn Bowl. Tickets are $15 for the 21+ show.
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