1. Your first reaction on landing in India?
Luis: I was here for the first time in 2009 for 5 weeks and I travelled from Mumbai all the way to Kolkata, the Rajasthan region ,Agra , Khajuraho , Banaras etc and when I went back to the US and Mexico I told my friends that India is alife changing experience because many problems which we hear in theory back home when you to India you get to see the real facts. It was a really inspiring trip and I think everyone should come here and experience India at least once.
Alberto : India is a beautiful country . Coming here at IIT, Guwahati , we realized the importance of the cultural exchange bringing foreign bands to perform in Alcheringa and it’s a really great effort from the people behind it. Just came back from Kaziranga and it was absolutely worth the 5 hour intense drive. We loved it.
Leo: I joined Villalobos brothers recently and I am loving the cultural exchange through music. I had avery narrow viewpoint being in the states but after coming to Guwahati and seeing everything , it has been a real eye opener
Humberto (guitar): India has been close to some sort of knowledge we had no idea about. Feels really good to expand our music and I thank the organization and the people of India in general for everything.
2. Tell us a bit about Villalobos brothers. Your musical upbringing and talking up violin as an instrument choice.
Alberto: Villalobos brothers is all about family , integration, our music and the importance of it for humankind. We are three brothers who grew up in Xalapa, Veracruz in Mexico who started playing the at a very early age as early as 3 years of age. Later we went to different parts of the world to study classical music. I was blessed to go to Belgium, my brothers went to Germany and the New York city and later on got together to start the project in 2005. Its been a great journey and we have been blessed to perform at Carniege hall, the Latin Grammys etc. and it’s a real wonderful experience to share all the experience with your wonderful team of IMM and now being able to bring it to India.
Luis: We try real hard to bring the roots of the Mexican music which is our pride to the big scene. We believe that through music we can break every barrier , every border and try and bring peace and a positive change . We try to do meaningful music and not just for entertainment. Its an art and we want want ot take our art to do something better for the world.
3. As independent musicians you have successfully potrayed the roots of Mexican music to the world. How hard was it in the beginning and how does it fell now that you have successfully done it?
Luis: I find it very hard to define success . For the band success is all about being able to do what you are happy doing and not having to sell your art for getting commercial success or monetary success. We make music not with the desire of getting fame or making money and all that we normally associate with success. Coming to India here to play. Thats success for us. Believing in your journey and taking it forward is success and not just trying to achieve something you haven’t achieved. We believe in our music, love to perform and write it and for us it has been a successful journey.
Humberto : We have met many producers in the music industries and many record label who comes up to us tells us to define our music in one specific label, whether rock or pop or anything else which is hard for us to do so to just be stuck into one kind of music as we wand to expand ourselves and be loyal to what we want to do. People really appreciate what we do and we feel the struggle is worth it. Its been a slow process but its been satisfying as people all over the world are appreciating what we do.
4. Do you think genre specification is way too overrated?
Luis: we can never say and stick to one genre as you have asked. We love what we do and maybe come and watch us in concert and maybe get to know our music better (laughs).
Alberto: We are just musicians and we integrate, we grow , we do different things and make music close to our heart. So being labeled just as rock musicians or pop or classical musicians is not what we want cause at the end of the day we are just musicians. Its either good music or bad music. That’s about it and that’s why coming to India has been such a great experience as we got to listen to some really great music from India. We cannot sacrifice our music just because someone puts restrictions on it. We will do the music close to our heart incorporating different elements and taking it from there.
5. Our readers would definitely like to know about your self titled as well as well your recent album “Aliens of extraordinary ability”. Shed a little light on it.
Alberto: It’s something really important that you mentioned. Being Mexicans living in New York is not easy. When our brother Ernesto who is not here presently , writes music his lyrics basically is focused on the harsh life a Mexican native has to face coming to the states and not getting the benefits a worker , labourer should get. We want to be the spokesman for something called immigration reform to happen in the states so that the Mexican and latino people come and enjoy all the benefits. The albums is all about that and the title of the recent album tells about how we have to live as aliens in the states and that change has to come.
Luis: We also write fun music , music about love and things (laughs) but then again our music focuses on the realities and the world itself like when I came to india and saw everything I wanted to write songs about all the things and experiences I had here. In short meaningful music is what we thrive on.
Humberto : We also have a new album coming up and the year will be very busy recording it. It will really have a new twist. We also are collaborating and trying to make symphonic orchestra scores with a reknowned orchestra directorto present it as the Villalobos brothers symphonic and take the whole show to the next level.
6. Every country has its own independent music scene. Some are blooming and some are not. You guys started out and still are indepent as musicians and you have really taken your music to the next level. What advice would you give to the indie artists and people working for it to survive the challenge and what to do and what not to do? Also tell us about the scene back home.
Leo:There are countless numbers of bands I new York city who are great musicians having immense talent in every aspect technically and likewise but the big issue is how you get your music out there and not only that but also try to sustain it. I think its important to know how to use social media and media in general to push your music and be able to play and fund your project. I think the villalobos brothers does that very well and some other bands unfortunately get caught up in the creative process. Its all about using your sources very well.
Alberto: I will go even further and say that independent musicians are needed more than others. We independent musicians are the creative force and blogs like yours are really needed in the music industry nowadays. we apart from doing music have to look at these factors also and work even harder . there is no alternative.
Luis: One piece of advice I would really like to give is that before you do any music or build a website do one thing first sit down with your band or team and ask yourselves why you want to do it and what is the ultimate goal cause if you don’t have a common agreement or a distinct thought the endeavour will not go very far
7. You were the first Mexican band to play at the legendary Apollo theatre which musicians everywhere just dream of. How was the experience?
Leo: Playing at the Apollo theatre was a great experience. It came after we won the battle of the boroughs. People like Michael Jackson, james brown, Stevie wonder have played there. We were featured guest artist and we did a Stevie wonder cover amongst our tracks and we really got great appreciation.. until we played there it was an all american stage . it shows that people are really open to world music and feels good to know that. It felt as the spirits to go deep within of all those great artists.
8. Touring different place and meeting many people and different cultures what do you take back home and incorporate in your music?
Luis: I think going into a new journey you never know what you wl take back . the most important part of being a creative artist is to experience and to travel and get educated .i think it should be a part of the curriculum in universities. Every composition I do has to do with a very deep experience.its very important to stay open and keep looking for new experiences.
Alberto: A very reknowned musician gary burton said in his autobiography to young musicians to travel a lot and not be confined to the room of your house..sitting at home and practicing may make you technically very good but it will never expand your musical vision which you could experience while travelling.i resonate with the words and leo was telling how the sun in india looks different from anywhere else in the world. Its so beautiful and that’s life changing and you can find it only here. All those little things you can take back home and incorporate it in your music.
Leo: one thing that I really like to take back from india is its pickle. Its been a revelation for me. It really lit a fire for me and fueled my times here (laughs). The pickels that I had had before were very European pickle and this is like a sort of light a fire in your stomach kind of a pickle.(laughs) its not just the food. everything the sounds and when we were travelling to guwahati, it was unbelievable
9. I don’t know how many times you have been asked this in an interview but tell us a bit about the instruments you use, weapons of your choice to say?
Alberto: I am glad you asked that. I will tell you a funny story we did a last late set quite around midnight and my brother Ernesto my brother who was tired and a little drunk left his instrument on the sidewalk and it was shocking . this was a instrument which was worth afew thousand dollars. He lost it .we had commitments and had to play in a few days and we did not have a instruments.. all this was to say that I am fond of making instruments and I made one for the next show…. My advice would be that since the instruments are so responsive you need to be aware of little things and never be afraid to come forward.
Luis: Start playing a different instrument as a secondary instrument cause it will help you expand your music apart from your primary instrument. Go and explore.
Leo: My advice would be before you even play listen to a lot of music cause you will only be able to express what is inside. Music is a language and the only way you can learn it is by listening to it.
10. This is your space …leave a message for your Indian fans..
Alberto: Just wana say thank you very much for listening to us and letting us potray our music. we would love to meet you and follow us on facebook, twitter, official site and thank you for accepting us here.
Luis: Thank you to the country. Both times I have got so much love and warmth and have learnt so much as musicians by coming to your country.
Humberto: I feel I have been nurtured spiritually by coming here. We have been lucky to travel places but not all are fortunate enough to travel but you can still travel throughout your country and have great experience..so try on and you will have everything you seek.. thank you!