The life of a music blogger (at least here in Fresno) can get a bit lonely. So, when another local takes up the helm, it tends to put a blip my radar. Suffice it to say, I’m excited by what Spanspek Music and Arts Festival co-founders Cristobal Carillo and Israel Flores are doing over at the festival’s website. I wanted to know more, so I fired off a quick email. Here’s what I got back from Carillo.
Because I talked about it in my column last week. What is the Fresno sound? By Fresno I am speaking for the larger Central Valley region.
We wracked our brains for a bit on this one. Given that we’re both musicians active in the local music scene, we’re hesitant to give one particular genre or band “Sound of Fresno” status. Although such designations can help outsiders better navigate the deep and treacherous waters of local scenes, they also tend to obscure the contributions of more niche bands that, while not necessarily fitting a certain sound, are vital to the scene.
That said, if Israel and I had to pick a definitive sound, it would be that mountain/roots/blues rock associated with fantastic locals Strange Vine. Not only is that type of music popular at the moment, but it gels with the whole Valley agricultural lifestyle. I mean, the indie rock of Fierce Creatures has potential to be “The Sound of the Valley.” It’s certainly popular enough. But at the end of the day, people associate the Valley with agriculture. And I don’t think people will latch on to the image of farmer rocking out to “Satan Is a Vampire” anytime soon (even though this could very well be happening).
What is your favorite local band right now?
Local bands can be very unstable, so favorites tend to depend on who still exists. For myself, older picks include The Sleepover Disaster. Currently I can’t get enough of twee punk rockers Sci-Fi Caper. Cute melodies coupled with carpel tunnel inducing riffs? What’s not to love?
Israel use to love the music of The Same Shape. Currently, he really enjoys the music of Werebear, a newer rock/synth punk monstrosity. For a band that sings about horror movie creatures and regularly makes fun of itself during sets, they’ve got quite the knack for catchy songwriting.
What made you decide to start blogging about local music?
Blogging serves a number of purposes for out little operation. First and foremost, we’ve always wanted to create a sense of community in the local scene. What better way to do that than to shine a light on all the awesome music everyone is releasing? If we’re doing our job right, it’s putting musicians in touch with other musicians and providing your average Joe with an easy way to listen to great music they would hardly ever hear on the radio.
It also helps to keep Spanspek somewhat vital. We co-organize the Spanspek Music and Arts Festival, which is a local arts showcase held every year in Orosi. For six months out of the year we do nothing but plan and hype the event, but after that, Spanspek remains pretty dormant. Keeping up the blog helps keep the festival in the conversation, so to speak. And hopefully it’ll expose more people to what we’re doing, so that they come and/or participate.
It seems like every other day there’s a band releasing something new on bandcamp, etc. It’s a nice change from the days when no one had any recordings. Anyway, how do you keep up?
It’s definitely a challenge, but a good one to have. We’d rather be bombarded with new music then have to wait ages for a single. We keep up by constantly checking Twitter and Facebook for mentions of new tracks or bands we’ve never heard of before. We caught wind of newcomers The Regime and Blind Bison simply through brief mentions in status updates. Social media makes it really easy to talk to people, so often times I’ll just ask a band to send new stuff. The preferred method though is to go to a show and pick up a CD. Unfortunately, as we get older, families and responsibilities grow, so it’s not as easy to make it out to shows anymore. Still, we try when we can.
You also play in a local band, so we might as well plug that. What’s up with Werebear?
Ah Werebear! We have a hometown show coming up this Friday (3/22/13) at the Step Up Youth Center in Orosi, with Sci-Fi Caper and roc en espanol/ska punk band Basura. Unfortunately it’ll be our last show with original bassist Kenny Gonzalez, who will be leaving the band (an amicable split I might add). It’s an all-ages show. Donations will be collected at the door and it starts at 7 p.m. We made this video to plug the event.