Locos Por Juana and the Art of Seduction
November 5, 2015
One of our local jewels, funk pan-Latin band Locos Por Juana recently came out with their latest single “Mueve, Mueve” and we had the honor of sitting down with their lead singer Itagui Correa and bass plater David Parnsky at Panther for fresh joe and a captivating chat. We blabbed about details surrounding their music, the particularities of Miami and the evolution of the artist. An hour with the pair mirrored the eclectic energy that makes their music unparalleled and enchanting. We invite you to join in the conversation with Locos Por Juana, which promises Miami trivia and back and forth punch lines, but mostly to check out their new single; a song with an intriguing story about the art of seduction.
Dave, How did you get involved with Locos por Juana?
(Itagui) We stole him from a band (laughs).
(Dave) (laughs), You didn’t steel me, no, I played with a band for a long time, for about a decade and crossed paths with these guys a few times on tour over the years and I do remember the first time I stumbled into this band and thought “Whoa, these guys are amazing” even though I was playing with my family.
(Itagui) And we didn’t have a bass player at that time. We used to do the bass over a machine, so it was crazy.
Who were you playing with beforehand?
(Dave) I was playing with a band called Toubab Krew with heavy West African influences, international touring, we did about 220 shows a year for 10 years. Yet I always thought Locos were amazing then a couple years passed and I ended up moving to Miami, you know, linking up, turning into friends and next thing I know we made a full circle.
(Itagui) We met on the road, we jammed one time and it was a perfect match. I mean, Dave had never played cumbia and it was just natural, he had the touch. It was perfect. He came to us and we were so happy. It was a full circle because we met on the road.
What’s the best thing about being on tour?
(Dave) The tequila… (laughs) No, giving thanks, in the reality of doing something that you love. You know, the work and meeting new people. I think it’s really that for me, giving thanks for being able to pursue your passion which includes traveling, meeting people and tasting different foods.
(Itagui) That’s the best thing, the energy.
This one is for Itagui, because Dave is fairly new to the band, you took a three year recording break.
(Itagui) Yeah, we always record an album every three years.
Why is that?
(Itagui) It has many factors to it, one of the big factors is that we never stop working, we are always playing. We did one of the last shows for the last album, last year. So, we always take our time, also, it’s so important for us to think about the concept and what we are going to do next. We took some time, went to Vermont and recorded some music up there. Disconnected, no phones, nothing for two weeks and we just laid down vocal tracks, ideas. We are still missing 2-3 songs from the album, we are still in that whole energy of composing and doing things right. We take our time. We don’t necessarily think you should do an album every year, but we take our time and it’s worth it.
Are you familiar with the author Mario Vargas Llosa?
Well, he talks about writing as a form of striptease, can you talk to me about your creative process and how you go about composing a song?
(Itagui) Writing for me has many factors. I don’t like to force the writing. I like to do it when it comes, and when it does I get inspired by situations in life. For me, the space that I write in is very important. I could write something right here, but I would prefer it to be in a place where I am surrounded by nature and things that connect me to what I am going to write about. Being with family helps a lot too. Being with people that I love. You have to pick apart many things. When I write, before I sing a song, I read it to hear how it sounds and then maybe change a couple of things. I am also open to co-writing, I love it, I am a strong believer in the concept that two minds are better than one. I like to write with other people, feel the vibe, be inclosed in a room and sense the energy in that room, then start writing. It’s such an amazing thing. I get anxious just thinking about it.
(Dave) I was going to say that I think as a whole with the band, especially the core four of us, we really respect each other as artists. Even as kind of a new member (you know, the past 3 years) I feel like everybody respects each other as artists so much that I feel totally comfortable coming in and saying “hey I got this idea” and everyone works together to put it together and sometimes the vibe isn’t exactly there and other times it is and we go with it. The musical part and the feeling is what unites it and then Ita will take it to the next level and create the lyrical connection with it.
(Itagui) I want people to connect with the lyrics. I want people to feel the lyrics. A lot of them are uplifting, they speak about something nice. As for the single that we have now, I went into the whole thing looking at why we dance, from the moment that we are born we feel the music. Even when we are in the womb we feel music. I asked myself, why is that so important in our lives? I started reading about it and I read some articles that speak about Papau New Guinea, where people imitate birds when dancing. A lot of them have to do with a spiritual connection. Like a ceremony. It’s a mating ritual and it’s mostly the male, dancing, trying to impress the woman. So, in all birds, this is represented like that, the male bird is the one trying to impress most of the time. And it was funny to me that in our nature it’s usually the woman that is trying to impress the man.
Based on that, I read another story that spoke about the reactions of a man when he sees a woman dancing and the reactions of a woman when she sees a man dancing. When a man was watching a woman dancing, of course there is excitement, but when the woman sees a man dancing the excitement is more crazy. For me, all of that was on my mind when this song was born. Telling you that music is here, there is no reason why you should not dance, why you shouldn’t be happy, because it’s the time for that. Music is for anything that you’re going through. Sometimes there are songs that take you back to your childhood. Sometimes there are songs that you hear and they make you sad, because they remind you of something, but I think that definitely that connection with music and dancing takes you to a good place and that is what this song is about.
Most of the lyrics on the album have meaning, they have a theme. The whole album is going to go by the name of Caribe and it’s a tribute about being born and raised in Miami (even though Dave and I are from the mountains, Dave is from Vermont y yo soy de Medellin, there’s no beach in Medellin) but I was raised here and being raised in Miami is the Caribbean to the max. You have the Cubans, the Dominicans, the Haitians all these things collaborating and giving you a little bit of everything. Even in the food you eat in the morning you go get a cafecito cubano and the music that we listen to here is part of it, it’s all Caribbean.
It’s interesting that you say that, because I had a question about where you feel most at home. Where do you feel most at home?
(Itagui) I feel home here and it’s funny because when I go to Medellin after two three weeks I can’t wait to be here and the same goes for when I tour, I can’t wait to get back here.
(Dave) I’m a chameleon. I just get in where I fit in. I feel most at home with my friends and my family, you know, wherever that is. I guess that takes us back to the original question “what’s my favorite part of touring” it’s being with my family and creating music together.
What’s a perfect day in Miami?
(Itagui) A perfect day in Miami is, sun, going to the beach, having an amazing time with the family. In Miami, every day is perfect, you can make it that way. Everything has to do with your attitude towards the day when you wake up. For me, every day is perfect, I wake up every day with that mind set that it’s going to be nice, no matter what is happening, you know, we got to be happy.
(Dave) A perfect day in Miami starts with a cafecito cubano and then 18 holes on the golf course, probably at the Biltmore, a nice lunch somewhere, get ready for a show and then play Locos por Juana.
What’s your favorite venue to play here in town?
(Dave) Well they’re so in and out that it’s hard to place them.
(Itagui) We love to play Wynwood, especially when they do those mystery concerts in a warehouse and everyone just shows up. We like to jam in Bardot and do a couple things here and there.
(Dave) I have to say, American Airlines Arena.
(Itagui) Sidebar was really nice too. There are a couple places that are nice.
What about a place to take a break from the stage and go see a show, maybe be anonymous for a night?
(Dave) I have to say Ball and Chain, I like the history of that place, you can really feel that.
(Itagui) Oh and Power Studios, that was the first gig that we had. There’s good places in Miami, they just come and go.
Where do you see the music scene in Miami, now in comparison to the music scene ten years ago and where do you think it’s headed?
(Itagui) I see it more in the middle of an evolution. Ten years ago people had started relating Miami to as their home. Before it was more like a place to come to stay at for a couple of weekends, or a month and then just leave. They wouldn’t make Miami their house. Recently it’s been happening and a lot of people are proud to represent Miami as their house. The more that people do that the more, you know, conscious they are about representing their local music and putting more love to it. But you know, it’s Miami.
(Dave) It’s interested because, you know, as a person who has been around a lot in the States and different towns, my original band was from Asheville, North Carolina, it has a real strong live music scene. But to me, Miami in terms of local bands, it’s some of the most powerful and strongest music that I’ve ever been around.
(Itagui) Yeah, es que, that’s the thing with Miami, we have such a small scene, but we have four or five bands that don’t compare with anyone in the U.S.
Are we talking Spam All Stars, or what are we talking here?
(Itagui) Yeah, when you start saying it, it’s going to go Spam, Suénalo, Locos… and the irony is that it’s hard to get those 4-5 bands. Each one is different from the other. They all have different vibes, energy, everything, but they are still from Miami, yet different.
(Dave) On that note, with all these amazing local bands, for some reason the audience isn’t so in tune to the big live music scene or appreciative of all of this amazing art. I would say a lot of the scene is the club scene and, you know, the ztztztztz vibe that is hard to break from Miami, but top notch in terms of local music, which in any other town there would be sold out shows every night.
(Itagui) Yeah, what’s interesting is that the four, five bands that I mentioned to you, they pack the place, but it’s a different crowd. Each band has their crowd and sometimes it’s a mix. It’s a cult, it’s beautiful when people go out and support the shows. It’s nice when we go to play our shows and they are packed.
(Dave) So the evolution is happening though, I think people are slowly getting more into the live music scene.
(Itagui) Yeah, because before it was more like Tobacco Road, but people mainly went to get the 10 cent beer and not so much to listen to the music. Now it’s more about the music, people actually go out and support the talent.
If we escape Miami a little and expand the music scene to the world and we talk about different bands and influences can you tell me a little about these? Or maybe just a show, for example, that you haven’t been able to see and would like to.
(Itagui) Yes, there are amazing bands that inspire us all of the time. People that aren’t here anymore, Bob Marley, Hector Lavoe, bands from Mexico, Cafe Tacuba and there’s a band from Germany, their name is Seeed, I love that band. That band is one of my favorite bands. We listen to a lot of old music, we are old souls (both laugh), James Brown, a lot of reggae, Bernie Spear, not Brittany Spears (everyone laughs).
(Dave) In my evolution musically, I’ve really gotten into world music, probably in the last decade, personally, but it’s like art, it’s opinion based and just because you’re this doesn’t mean you’re going to make it. It’s hard to be like, oh that painting sucks, you can’t really say that. Maybe I used to be like that, but now you can find a little…
(Itagui) You know my grandpa used to say, “para cada mierdita hay una mosquita” which means (looking at Dave who is learning Spanish) “for every little piece of shit there’s a little fly” it’s funny he used to say that, but now I realize that you can’t say that something is bad, you have to have respect. It’s not easy to do a CD, any CD is art, it’s beautiful, the dedication, the recording hours, everything.
(Dave) Not only that, it’s showing the most vulnerable point of you, as a human being, to create your art and show it to the public. I used to jump on the band wagon of that “American pop music, I hate that radio shit lalalala”, but being in Miami when that’s bumping and I find myself with gente de zona just rocking the vibe I find myself very inspired by that stuff.
Where do you see yourselves in five years?
(Itagui) Working hard..
(Dave) Smoking cigars, drinking champagne (smiles)
(Itagui) Paying my house. Just working, keep on working with another album, working hard and playing. That’s the most important, doing social work, finally getting into social work. We are going to play at the Fillmore benefit concert for Guitars over Guns. I have chats with Chad [Bernstein], who I am very thankful for, because he’s such an amazing person in this community, but taking music to those kids is the most amazing thing, because we all know what can happen if you don’t give kids opportunities, they get guns, join gangs and go down the wrong path. It’s a great opportunity to play at this concert. When Chad approached us with the possibility to play, we were like, of course, there was no doubt about it.
Speaking of children and the initiation into music, what got you started playing music, becoming disciplined with it and deciding that this is what you were going to do with your life?
(Itagui) I think we all started this as a dream, in my case, I am a piano player and I remember the magic was just to get together every week and it was just magical. We weren’t even good for like 2-3 years. I started young, 12-13, I remember the first song I played was “The Lambada” and I think every artist should go back to the first time. The beauty about it is going back to the humbleness of starting something from the beginning and that energy which should always be there. I think that’s what keeps us rounded, because when we do something new, we are like kids, we are always happy about it.
(Dave) For me it’s the opposite, I am a real late bloomer in the music scene. My family was really musical, my mother and sister were in this a capella group that did a tour of the world and my father was a banjo player and singer/songwriter. I was an athlete so after I was kind of done with college, I put the shoes in the locker and needed some vibe. I went to a music festival and this guy was playing a mandolin and I thought I am going to get one of those, rented one and a year later I was in Costa Rica, just a closet musician at an open mic and met one of the guys from Dispatch. They asked me if I wanted to tour with them and we went on this tour and I started out up top with sold out shows in Urban Plaza, New York, my first performance ever. And I was like alright, I guess I am going to be a musician now and then it was like, ok great, here are all the fans, good luck. I had no stage experience, which kind of took me to the childhood phase. I don’t know I kind of float with the river.
Anything you want to say to your fans?
(Dave) We love you.
(Itagui) Yes, we love you a lot and tell one fan that doesn’t know about us to come see us next time.