By Marvin Dotiyal, Features Editor
[Photos by Blacksheep Imaging]
“When you’re up on a stage, don’t be the hero that they want, but what they need,” Andrés gracefully sings in the closing lines of his Heroes, Villains, and All That Jazz opener, “Andrespacito”.
Reiterating his father’s teachings to be more than just a musical artist but a hero, Andrés doesn’t shy away from honesty and critical introspection. While it’s easy to get lost in Andrés’ comedic charisma, his latest LP Heroes, Villains, and All That Jazz is the tale of a soul-searching musician—an open letter to himself presented through his “jazz and hip-hop-influenced pop rock.”
Growing up in Bakersfield, California, Andres Aparicio started his musical journey at the age of eight when he picked up the violin after seeing an orchestra performance. During his teen years, he picked up a guitar and listened to early 2000s post-hardcore and emo bands, which would later become the primary influence for his first band, Terra Alive.
“Bands like My Chemical Romance, Blink-182, Fall Out Boy, Taking Back Sunday, Dance Gavin Dance, The Used and From First to Last really inspired me to chase a lifestyle in music and touring,” Andrés says.
After seven years as Terra Alive, Andrés decided to rebrand his music by using just his first name like rappers Drake, Kehlani and Kyle. Revamping the Terra Alive sound on his first Andrés debut Strange Memories on This Nervous Night in 2017, he amplifies his pop, hip-hop, R&B and jazz sensibilities to the forefront of his new, polished demeanor with his Latin roots making slight cameos. Gradually gaining popularity among the scene, Andrés has made big strides, having collaborated with scene favorites such as Kurt Travis and Strawberry Girls along the way.
Drawing a huge influence from early 2000s post-hardcore and emo bands as well as bigger, mainstream artists such as Drake, Justin Bieber and the many namedrops in “Lucille 2,” Andrés’ diverse music palette allows for his nuanced sound. Topping his contagious hooks over silky-smooth guitar licks, Andrés often describes his music as “if Drake sang for CHON” or “if Frank Ocean sang for a jazzy pop-rock band.”
His lyrical inspiration mostly comes from Drake, which is surprising for an artist that has rooted origins in the post-hardcore/emo scene. “Drake’s lyrics, storytelling and vulnerability are mesmerizing to me. He’s so shamelessly blunt and honest about some of his mistakes and shortcomings,” Andrés muses. “Whether it’s a personal story or a story of a friend, telling a personal story and painting it with real-life aspects really help the lesson get across better.”
And a lot of it shows in his music, especially on Heroes, Villains, and All That Jazz. The record illustrates his journey of striving to be a “musical hero.” It focuses on a central theme of desire and conflict—wanting to become a successful artist in the music industry while also trying to maintain a healthy moral compass in the making.
“In my journey of striving to be a ‘musical hero,’ I find myself dealing with the pleasures of the world and the flesh, ultimately realizing I’m in fact behaving like a villain.”
According to Andrés, the opener “Andrespacito” is an “an intro to a musical” that introduces the overarching concept of the album. Among his impeccable rap flow and danceable grooves throughout the album, his playful lyrics may seem lighthearted, but it opens a candid outlook on Andrés and his world in front of him. “With my lyrics, I try telling stories of real-life instances that may not make me out to be the best person alive.”
Because his friend would describe his lyrics as “wallowing in a puddle of self-realization,” Andrés was later inspired to write “Self-Aware”, which was released as a single before being rearranged and re-recorded for Heroes, Villains, and All That Jazz. “‘Self-Aware’ is about a boy who realizes all the mistakes he’s making in his personal life and yet doesn’t make any efforts to fix his behavior,” Andrés explains. “I wrote that song to show how people, including myself, can all truly be sometimes.” The theme is predominant throughout, especially in other tracks such as “Reeks of Suburban Legend”, “Poetry” and “Lucille 2.”
The writing process starts from the guitars, where Andrés would experiment with different chord voicings and riffs. After feeling the overall mood of the song, he writes words and melodies that fit its cadence and style. Once the skeleton of the song is solidified with MIDI drum parts, he takes his tracks to drummer and producer Allen Casillas, who is deeply involved in the creative process; Casillas takes part in additional writing, engineering, digital editing and performing drums, keys and percussion.
Andrés just wrapped up the Andrespacito Tour, released a new music video for “Spanish Mami” and already has two more tours lined up. When Andrés is not out to save the world as a musical hero, he is a devoted gym rat and an avid “Dragon Ball” aficionado. Most of the time, however, he stays as busy as possible perfecting his art for himself and the fans.
“My favorite part about making music—that exciting feeling of writing a new chapter in this saga I feel like I’m writing—creating a new melody to get stuck in people’s heads or writing a new guitar part that makes me feel like I’m improving my skills.”