What is it about this guy Quique Escamilla? Quirky? lovable? romantic? Yeah, he's got sweet tunes that can bring you the full moon by the water. He is also bad ass, and the music is coupled with themes of resistance and consciousness. His new record, 500 Years of Night, smacks us in the face with truths about the Americas and their "discovery" by the conquistadores from imperial Europe.His musical style, brought to you via his Chiapas homeland, the Estados Unidos de Mexico, and his Toronto home, with the whole modern world as influence, is those 500 years of history. By fusing traditional Mexican musical styles such as ranchera and huapango with other Latin American rhythms, as well as rock and reggae, Quique creates his own unique 'Music of the Americas'. These poly-rhythmic designs serve as a vehicle for Quique's incisive and passionate lyrics that touch on issues like indigenous rights and sustainability while tackling every form of oppression.In Toronto, where so called 'world' musicians (I hate that term) are for the world crowd and 'indie' musicians are for the indie crowd, Quique is the guy that builds and crosses those bridges. Check out the video his friends made for his CD release below... Damn, Quique got viral marketing styles! Also my favourite song off the album is here.
It was at The Dakota tavern that I first saw Quique Escamilla play, and he killed it. People were bumping to his songs and his band was in the pocket. Jose Ortega, the artistic director/owner of Lula Lounge, was also there, and he noticed me grooving to the sound. I said to him that I was really impressed with Quique's style, fresh, familiar, yet somehow not pretentious or cheesy, and he even seemed to have a hipster following! Jose looked at me and responded "yeah, he crosses all the bridges." At that moment I knew it would be wicked to have Quique on board for an Uma Nota show.In our world, almost no one has just one form of musical influence. It's basically impossible. In a city like New York, São Paulo, Paris, Toronto, or any multicultural city, we may all have our frame of musical reference, but we can appreciate and take the best of all the musical forms that cross our paths. We in the big urban centres of the world are highly internationalized. We have reggae. We have Latin rhythms like cumbia and son. We have the global influence of Brazilian music. We have rock & roll and we have blues music. We hear music through our national references, our friends, the radio, parties, the internet, etc. ...And every once and a while a musician comes around that "crosses all those bridges" and brings the sounds together for a fine mix and audible feast that can be appreciated by all. We have seen this with many great troubadours, from Bob Marley and Calle 13 to Manu Chao. In the Tdot, we have Señor Escamilla and we are now in the "summer of Quique." He recently opened up for Spearhead at the Luminato Festival and has developed quite a name for himself with his musical talent and the ease in which he speaks with the crowd, switching it up from Spanish to English without any problems.Quique's story is a beautiful one. He started singing at age four in Chiapas at family reunions and away he went. Now he is in TO and we are happy to have him."In spite of the distance from his homeland and his people, he still remains very attached to his roots, culturally and musically influenced, and very much inclined to support through his music diverse social causes such as; human and civil rights, immigration reform, global conservation, anti-racism, discrimination and other political issues." - Quique's bio on the CBC Music website. Wicked. You can also listen to some of his songs here. Quique performs July 27th at the Uma Nota 5 year anniversary party. Check out an interview (in Spanish) at the recent Luminato show; the sound of his band is also wicked.