An artist that is truly dedicated to the creation of his work, Helado Negro refuses to focus on defining his music. Instead, he is constantly working on pieces and generating compositions that keep his listeners tuning into more of the different beats and sounds they have come to appreciate. The man underneath the ‘fro recently spoke to nocheLatina about this and a few other things. Get acquainted with the Canta Lechuza crooner as he briefly speaks about his influences, mindset, or lack of, when creating his art.
nocheLatina: Tell me about the creation of Canta Lechuza. What inspired you to go to rural Connecticut?
Helado Negro: I actually went there as part of an art residency and was invited to work there for a month. I worked on Canta Lechuza and another composition. It was just a good place to be to work on a record.
nocheLatina: Does nature inspire you or influence you as an artist? What is it about nature that does that for you?
Helado Negro: I don’t think the place helped directly with the music I was generating. It’s not like I was outside in the woods making a record. I was indoors. I could be doing that anywhere. I don’t think that nature inspired me. I think it’s just a place to think differently about music moreso than anything.
nocheLatina: Based on the description that you have on your website it seems as though its nature that really pushed that for you. Birds also seem to be an influence.
Helado Negro: For the record it’s called Canta Lechuza, which means singing owl, and owls are everywhere. Owls are put in shopping centers to scare off pigeons and on skyscrapers. They also live in the woods. That was more based on the idea of a mythology. I was creating a mythology with the record. And like I said before the music aligned itself with me being there. It wasn’t necessarily a product of the location.
nocheLatina: Tell me about your mindset when you were creating Canta Lechuza.
Helado Negro: My mind is just being. It’s sincere. The thing about going away from where you are normally in your own normal environment is to not recreate your space. It’s just to absorb wherever you are and not necessarily have to think about anything. I wasn’t thinking about anything other than just letting things past through me.
nocheLatina: Why don’t you tell me about that art residency you were doing for a month?
Helado Negro: It was just four other artists. You wake up and everyone would go to their studios and work all day and at night. People would eat dinner together and it was just routine. It was like a place we shared, but no one was forced to interact with one another. You’re in the space to do whatever you want to do.
nocheLatina: Was it something that Asthmatic Kitty Records organized?
Helado Negro: It was something that I sorted out for myself. It was a good thing to try and experience. It was a part of an organization that hosts out there.
nocheLatina: Who would you want to collaborate with musically?
Helado Negro: I have no one immediately in my plans, to be honest with you. Not that I don’t want to, I just work with a lot of my friends. That’s usually how it works for me. I’m not seeking out. I respect a lot of people’s music. Most of the times I respect my friend’s music more than anything just because for me there’s a story attached. I know about their music and I’m able to play with them. It’s a huge thing for me as far as building my own community, as opposed to seeking out a community that’s built by the media.
nocheLatina: Community seems to play a big importance in your music.
Helado Negro: It’s just not in my music. Community is music in general. When a band is playing on a stage, all those members of the group is forming a community in front of you. Whether the audience is there or not, the community still exists. That’s music in general. Music is a community.
nocheLatina: Could you describe your genre and style?
Helado Negro: I’m the worst person to ask. I don’t necessarily think I know what it is. It’s definitely not my job (laughs). It’s not my job because I don’t know I would have an answer that would make any sense. If there was a genre it would be called music made for me.
nocheLatina: What influenced Helado Negro?
Helado Negro: The basic thing would be that my family is from Ecuador and they moved here. I was born in south Florida. I was surrounded by a Latin American community and I was influenced by Latin American culture. Music was part of my life everyday and that’s what my family wanted me to know. In terms of being an artist or a musician, it wasn’t just that I woke up one day and said that this was going to happen. It was just something that was build from points in my life. Multiple points and millions of experiences created this point. All these things are part of what I do now. I’m continuing to move forward with it.
nocheLatina: What are some projects that you are working on right now?
Helado Negro: I’m working on a lot of things. I don’t know if I want to talk about them, to be honest with you (laughs). I feel that if I talk a lot about them, maybe I’ll jinx myself and won’t want to work on them.
nocheLatina: You don’t have to get into specific details, but you can tell us if you’re doing another album.
Helado Negro: I’m always working on something. I think I’m in a phase right now where I laid out things in my own mind that I need to work out before I share them with anyone. I’m working on stuff constantly.