In an epic journey to Mexico City, Los Angeles-based band La Santa Cecilia recorded the album of their dreams, Amar Y Vivir.
The beautifully crafted visual album, produced by award-winning Sebastian Krys, is an homage to traditional Mexican and Latin American music with reimagined versions of classics like “En el último trago,” “Amar y vivir” and “Leña de pirul.”
The visual album, due Friday, also features collaborations with Mon Laferte, Eugenia León, Noel Schajris and the Rebel Cats.
Below, the Grammy-winning band’s lead singer La Marisoul and band member Miguel “Oso” dissect five tracks from Amar Y Vivir:
“Amar y vivir”
La Marisoul: The song was written by Consuelo Velázquez. She was a Mexican pianist/songwriter who also wrote “Bésame mucho,” and I love the lyrics of this song in particular. They say she wrote this song when whe was very young, so it’s crazy to think that someone so young can pen this song. This track is my anthem right now. It has a great message: It’s now or never. We’ve been singing this song forever, so it’s part of our repertoire already.
“Leña de pirul”
La Marisoul: It was sung by Lola Beltrán back in the day, but I heard it through Banda Machos. I moved to Mexico when I was younger and had to share a house with my stepfather’s family, and they loved Banda Machos. I hated it because I used to think I was all rock and punk, but deep down, I actually loved them and knew all the songs. I love this song because it takes me back to that time when I was so “hard-core” punk/rock and I almost missed out on something so cool like Banda Machos. I bet there’s a bunch of us who grew up saying “I don’t like banda or cumbia,” but, yeah right. Once you were left alone in the house you’d blast banda music.
Oso: That song takes me back to when I’d visit Mexico when I was younger and my cousins were mean quebradita dancers. They’d run like 15 miles every week and I didn’t get why, but then I’d seen them on the dance floor every Sunday. The run was just their warm-up to be able to dance banda on weekends.
“En el último trago”
Oso: We’ve covered this song for years now during our live shows but doing it with Eugenia León was mind-blowing. We also recorded it at a famous bar in Mexico City called Salón Tenampa where songwriters would go get drunk and sing with the mariachi. To be able to sing a song written by José Alfredo Jiménez, the best Mexican songwriter in my opinion, at Salón Tenampa with Eugenia, was a dream come true. I actually didn’t even play an instrument in that song, I just sat in the back drinking mezcal and I’m literally pretty drunk in the video.
“Como Dios manda”
La Marisoul: This is the only original song in our album and it’s one of my favorite songs to sing. It’s a song about wanting to be with someone so bad. I was going through this state of confusion when you don’t know if a relationship will work out or not. I remember going into rehearsal one day …
Oso: … Late. She came to rehearsal late. The guys and I were already there while she was on her little escapade. But we couldn’t do anything about it because she was so in love and when she got to the studio, she was inspired.
La Marisoul: And Oso tells me, “Chubbs, this is the perfect moment for you to write a song. Let me go buy you guys some beers.” So when he was out buying us beers, me and the rest of the guys wrote “Como Dios manda.” It was literally me on the couch crying, talking and singing. For this new album, we were able to record the song with El Mariachi de América and when I first heard the mariachi play our song, I lost it. The song means so much to us.
Oso: I had to walk away when I heard it with a mariachi for the first time. I started crying and got so emotional.
Oso: It’s a song we did with the Rebel Cats, which is a rockabilly band from Mexico, and we got the father-son part of the group. These guys walk into the set and they look like the coolest people I’ve ever seen in my life, and they weren’t even wearing the clothes they were going to wear for the video. So they changed into even cooler outfits … We love this song because it expresses how we feel about being Mexican-American, bi-cultural. To have us, Mexican-American artists, play that song with a rockabilly band from Mexico proves that the border can be obsolete and meaningless culturally.