Latin music lovers rejoice, and be exceedingly glad. Rumbo Rumba, from Salt Lake City, is a blend of many Latin and American styles and influences, wrapped up in an uplifting and empowering package. Rumbo Rumba is new on the Utah music scene, but they are now offering free song downloads on their awesomely-designed website. Their songs seem immediately accessible to both the average listener who desires catchy hooks and a great beat, and the musician who demands excellent technical ability. The band is composed of six powerful musicians and music lovers from all over the hemisphere, including Aaron de Azevedo, son of well-known LDS composer Lex de Azevedo, Of course, Latin America is a big place, as David Lindes, guitarist and singer, points out, but he has cheerfully offered to help break it down for us and tell us what makes Rumbo Rumba tick.
Tell me a little bit about the people in the band. Who in the band is LDS?
DAVID: Everybody’s Mormon. I grew up as a little mormoncito in Guatemala. Came to the states when I was nine. Aaron – well, his dad kinda helped define Mormon pop music in the ’70s. Salvael is from Mexicali, and came up to Utah to attend school at BYU. Kevin’s half Dominican, grew up in New Mexico. Matt’s half Paraguayan, and he’s a percussion performance major at BYU.
Who thought of the name Rumbo Rumba?
D: Aaron and I thought it up. We were looking for something that would sound undeniably Latin American, but would also be catchy. Now I realize it’s kind of a tongue-twister for non-Spanish speakers, but hey, así es la vida.
Your music is always described as a mixture styles and influences. How do you describe it?
D: It’s like hearing Metallica play Salsa – with some groovy jazz chords in there, and one of the Commodores is playing bass.
Many of our readers may be familiar with Lex de Azevedo. What did Aaron de Azevedo, your singer and guitarist, inherit from his father?
D: A lot of gear. Some talent, too. Aaron’s an amazing producer, and a very well-rounded musician. He composes, arranges, is a virtuosic guitar player, and is a decent piano player as well. I think one of the most valuable things he inherited from his dad is the idea that you can make a living making music.
How and when did you all meet and begin writing and performing together?
D: Aaron and I were both studying music at the University of Utah, and our guitar instructor introduced us after noticing we were both into Latin grooves. We got together a few afternoons to co-write and kinda jam and we really dug it. We recorded some demos (now on our website) and had a great time at it. We met Salvael a few months later, and he pretty much brought Kevin and Matt with him. It’s been awesome, because finding musicians in Utah who know their Latin idioms isn’t easy, and these guys rock at it.
What musical influences contribute to your sound?
D: Oof. It’s tough to be brief on this one. Let’s see…the Nueva Trova movement (’60s and ’70s Cuba) was a big one for me. Tropical tunes by Rubén Blades and Juan Luis Guerra were all over the place in Guatemala – the neighbors would play them all the time. I love Simon & Garfunkel, and I have a big Beatles poster in my studio.
Kevin’s a huge Beatles fan. He digs Sting and he listens Miles Davis every day. He grew up listening to Merengue and Disco around the house, and that kinda traumatized him. Now all that pain is paying off.
Matt grew up on classical music and Graceland by Paul Simon, and he’s a big fan of guys like Bill Evans, Jay Dilla, Incubus, and Ozomatli.
Aaron probably has the most Jazz influence out of all of us, and his listening habits are pretty broad – Billy Joel, Megadeth,
Your songs share one thing in common: they are all positive and uplifting. Why is this?
D: You know, I think it’s ’cause we need the optimism. We’re focused on writing songs that know pain, but aren’t committed to it. Songs that are hopeful because hope is urgent, we’re hungry for it, you know, kinda desperate. We also bring a bit of the “throw your worries all away” mentality that I think we all learned on Merengue and Salsa dance floors. Latin America dances to heal, and that’s what we hope our music will help people do.
Your sound reflects a rich Hispanic influence and heritage. Even the design of your website reflects this. For our readers who may be unfamiliar with Latin music, tell us about about the Latin approach to songwriting and performance.
D: Latin America is one big place, man, and its music is so diverse that it would be irresponsible of me to make generalizations, but the first thing that struck me as a teenager about Latin Folk music was its urgency. That urgency comes from a collective consciousness full of the wars of the ’60s and ’70s, full of the hope that came with the New World, and full of the complexities of being the descendants of two races that worked hard to kill each other off, but ended up having kids together.
Now, the sound. Oh, the sound! West African slaves brought us rhythm – from New Orleans to Brazil. Indigenous cultures contributed their instruments (Kenas and Zampoñas from the Andes, the Guatemalan Marimba), and colonial influences brought my personal favorite – the guitar. Germans brought the polka to northern Mexico, the Spanish brought all of their Middle-Eastern influences, and they all left us with a whole lotta sweetness.
How does your shared faith influence how you work together as a band?
D: We’re kind to each other, considerate. As a group we’ve also established a culture that focuses on hard work, optimism, and determination. We’ve made our lyrics and our shows a family affair, and that’s really important to us. We’re not looking to deepen a generational gap, here, we just want everyone to have a great time.
Do some of your songs reflect your spirituality?
D: I hope so. Maybe the most overtly religious is “Solo Un Milagro”, which uses biblical references to make socio-political statements. All of our songs reflect one of our key values, though – the belief that our choices matter, that our lives have meaning, and that if we keep at it we can improve as people, as families, as nations.
You have some free downloads available on your site. Where can we go to buy more of your music?
D: Our self-titled debut will be available this summer on iTunes, Amazon, and elsewhere. Our website is our “nucleus” as Nacho Libre would say, so if you visit our website (http://www.rumborumba.com/), you’ll always know what’s going on.