interview Jorge Perezchica
It’s just been a lot of fun, I don’t know how to describe it. We got to play, we’re on stage, we got artist pass, we’re chilling.
— Danny Torres
JORGE: What’s the backstory behind Ocho Ojos — how did you meet?
CESAR FLORES: So basically Danny and I met through social media. It started like, I posted something saying “Does anybody want to have a jam, you know get together and play some music?” And he responded. So we got together and right off the bat, since we both come from families that have musical background. It was very easy for us to get together and click and be able to come up with music and jam. We started playing in October, our first show was a cumbia hosted by Raices Cultura, in Coachella, California. They had this event and one of my friends, she was helping with the organization asked me to play. At the time, I had just met Danny, so I asked him to jam with me and that essentially became the first gig when it all started.
DANNY TORRES: It’s been really quick working with Cesar. Right off the bat, since we started playing together, we clicked and we had a good chemistry with playing music together, which is sometimes pretty rare to find. It’s only been about five, six months since we started playing, we started playing shows left and right. Sometimes you know, getting booked twice in the same night, sometimes three. But aside from that, it’s been a really quick process working with Caesar.
JORGE: Is your sound influenced by your hometown? What would you say, is the main driving force?
CESAR: I grew up in Coachella. I was born in Indio, California. I think here in the valley, the type of style that we play is different. A lot of influences were outside sources, like people who introduced me to Chicha, the psychedelic cumbia from Peru and you know, all the Latin rhythms that I got used to playing with and other bands and stuff like that here in the valley.
JORGE: What was your reaction when you received the call from Coachella?
DANNY: The day we found out we were kind of on edge, because there were still some last minute decisions taking place. So we’re kind of still waiting for a second, third call in the evening. It was kind of like surreal. So we were like, “Are we good? Are we not good?” But then we got the official confirmation and then we’re like, “All right, we can rest easy, you know, we’re good to go.”
JORGE: Did you notice a difference between the first and second weekend?
CESAR: I think in regards to the crowd, I think it was kind of the same. But what I noticed in comparison to last weekend, last weekend a lot of our friends came, you know, they were like, oh yeah, we’re going to go watch you to support you. So when we got on the stage, you know, we saw them, because all the homies are there. But this time, we went on and we saw people who we didn’t know but they were there waiting. So it was like almost like if like new and they wanted to see us play. So that was pretty cool. We had fun. I mean the show went great, I felt pretty confident, Danny he was killing it. Everybody else was doing a solid job. So I would say, it went well. As far as playing at Coachella, I mean we play at places like Bart, and The Hood and like backyard shows — and it was just really nice to have the type of equipment, you know, that they have here. Their production was amazing, you know, it’s really cool. It’s really cool to have.
JORGE: What is Ocho Ojos currently working on?
CESAR: Start getting our music published, start networking with people who promote shows out of town. Now that we have this on our resume, I think that will make other promoters and others bands take notice like, “Oh, these guys, they played here. So maybe they know what they’re doing and have an agenda.” Like Danny said, we’ve been pretty active ever since we started the group. We’re also going to release an EP that we already have recorded.
JORGE: I notice artwork by Frank Lemus on your drum set and t-shirts, can you tell us about your collaboration, how that came about?
CESAR: Danny and I, we had this open mic that we would host at Raices Cultura and for the whole time that we hosted the event, we would get one or two featured artists to come and display their art or do some live painting. Frank Lemus was the first artist that we got for the event and right off the bat, he was very cool and I really liked his work and he really liked her music. So he was just like, “Hey man, I liked the name, you know, like the music, I’m going to draw something out.” And he basically came up with the logo, I just really liked it. So that became the logo for our merchandise. Shout-out to Frank Lemus, he’s also somebody else who’s very supportive.
JORGE: I noticed DJ Alf Alpha was also on stage. How did you guys meet?
CESAR: We met Alf Alpha in December when we had this show at The Hood. It was a Selena tribute, cumbia night and it was Alf Alpha and we were opening up. Alf Alpha listened to our set and he really liked it. He was like, “Hey man, I’m going to have this event, it’s called Super Sonído and I have it at Bart. The one he invited us for was a New Year’s Eve edition. Towards the end of the night he also invited us to jam with him. We pretty much clicked and it just became a project. That’s what it’s now, “Los Pleyboys” with Ocho Ojos and Alf Alpha. What we do, is we create riffs, it’s a very free it’s like a jam basically. We have these melodies like jazz, so it’s very improvisational and it’s very free and it’s very danceable because it’s cumbia. We mix it with hip hop and funk and a little bit of everything.
JORGE: How would you describe the music scene in the Coachella Valley?
Cesar: I think the fact that Goldenvoice gives some of the local bands opportunities, it’s kind of like a privilege that we live here and that they have this really big festival. Sometimes they need some local bands — so if you’re over here putting in work you know, they’re going to call you. They’re not going to call the bands that are not active and they’re not really doing anything. So I hope that makes the other local bands hustle. Not like a competition, but create networking in the way that everybody is getting their shit done together.
DANNY: It’s just been definitely a fun experience and us being here from Coachella. It’s been a great privilege to get the opportunity to play here. It’s just been a lot of fun, I don’t know how to describe it. We got to play, we’re on stage, we got artist pass, we’re chilling.
CESAR: So if you want to check us out, ocho-ojos.bandcamp.com follow us and download our music.