Sistema Bomb, Grammys Q&A: A Mask and a Mission

Sistema Bomb

The Grammy Awards are fast approaching. Do you know your Latin nominees? In the next days we will highlight some of the leading nominees for the awards

Hector "Hecdog" Perez credits Los Lobos' song "La Guacamaya" with turning him on to the Mexican folk style son jarocho, leading him to his Grammy nomination for Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative Album. Perez, a successful Bay area producer and songwriter for television and advertising whose credits include the "SpongeBob SquarePants" theme, became immersed in the acoustic music from Veracruz and sought out its masters. He took the name Sistema Bomb, put on a lucha-inspired mask and produced "Electro-Jaraocho", an album that brings together the traditional celebratory street style with "good messages and cool beats."

The record includes collaborations with musicians from Ozomatli and Maldita Vecindad, and son jarocho band Los Cojolites, whose "Sembrando Flores," produced by Perez and Greg Landau, earned its own Grammy nomination for Regional Mexican Music Album.

What were you doing when you found out that you were nominated for a Grammy?
I was at home in Oakland with my kids, being a plain, simple dad.

What is the most surprising thing that happened to you this past year?
Its been the sheer attention "Electro-Jarocho" has gotten. The Grammy is sort of the finish line. On the day of its release, iTunes chose it as a song of the week. That's always given to some big massive artist, it doesn't happen to a tiny niche record like this. The incredible support and recognition has been really organic for an album done with no money, no promotion, by artists who are impoverished. These guys are incredibly talented but we usually don't really pay attention to folkloric artists.

What is your most important goal for 2013?
In the context of Sistema Bomb, it's to do a more thorough album that would highlight not only Sistema Bomb's version of music but each son jarocho master of Veracruz. My goal is to leverage this exposure we've gotten so they end up getting more attention, so the musicians can continue getting work and allow people to learn about this genre.

Are you going to the Grammys? Who would you like to meet on the night of the awards?
I'll be going with my wife. Los Cojolites will be there as well. The people I'm interested in meeting -- or seeing again -- are the other nominees in this category. I've known Quetzal's music for years, we opened up a couple shows for them… Carla Morrison, who has probably the best record in the field.

What's the best advice you can give aspiring artists trying to make it in the business?
My goal has never been to play live or make a living from doing a record. My only goal was to put out a piece of art, something even if it sold one copy, I could sleep at night feeling really proud. That would be my advice: do your personal art.

What is one thing that fans of your album would be surprised to find out about you?
I only learned about son jarocho about two years ago. The first time I looked into it was when I heard Los Lobos play "La Guacamaya".  I got so excited about it I decided to pursue it and took classes with the masters of the music when they passed through the Bay Area. I'm really a newbie.

Is there a music app that you're into using now?
I like Electrobeats. It has great sound and it's super good for programming beats and getting down some ideas for songs.