Song Writing

Alfredo Cabello of Los Master Plus

by Dan MacIntosh

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Los Super Plus make Mexican music, but it's not your father's Mexican music or the sounds coming from your neighbors' late-night party. Sure, there are traditional elements mixed in, but group leader Alfredo Cabello, who goes by "Comanche," listens to and incorporates sounds from all around the world. When the group performs, Cabello is as charismatic as any of today's hip-hop stars.
Dan MacIntosh (Songfacts): So, in the band, can you think of two or three songs that you're most proud of?

Alfredo Cabello: Yeah, we released a song in July called "El Castigo." That means "the punishment," and it's the best work so far from the band. The music, the lyrics, the video - everything is really put together and it's more mature than what we ever did before.

Songfacts: When you say "the punishment," who is punishing and who is getting punished?

Cabello: It talks about how when you're in a relationship and someone isn't there and they just leave you. You're talking about how big your love is, but you're still hurting, so it says, "I hope the punishment that you're going to get isn't as big as my love for you, but it's going to be because it's horrible. I don't want it to happen but it's going to happen." That kind of thing.

Songfacts: It's sort of inevitable.

Cabello: Yeah.

Songfacts: And what style of music is the song?

Cabello: The song definitely has a hip-hop bass to it, like the beat and how the structure is, but it's mixed with a lot of Latin genres. It has a little bit of "cha cha cha" and a little bit of salsa and a little bit of danzón, which is like an old genre from the '60s and '70s in Mexico. It's just a mixture of Latin stuff and modern mixed with hip-hop.

Songfacts: So, it's a little of the past and a little of the present.

Cabello: Yeah, definitely. It sounds classic but at the same time, it has this fresh feeling. We collaborated with a rapper from Guadalajara, Mexico - he's called Sabino - he's really booming right now, and it's been great. We're really proud of that song. Up to now, that's our best work.

Songfacts: And you feel like that's the song that really shows your growth as a band?

Cabello: Yeah, definitely, because our earlier stuff is more dance-y. We mix a lot of different genres, we experiment a lot, so it's more of a feeling - people will sing it a lot, they really feel it.

Songfacts: It's really interesting now. So much music mixes so many different elements. When I was growing up, there was almost like a segregation: you either liked rock or you liked dance. But now, with the internet, people can hear everything, and they like everything, so you're kind of streaming to the typical listener that doesn't stick to just one genre.

Cabello: Definitely. Los Master Plus is a great example of a band that just mixes whatever we feel like. What we know is Latin stuff, old stuff from Mexico, and we mix it with stuff from the whole world - not just from the United States - like hip-hop and rock and electronic sounds. So, that's the perfect example of how bands don't really mimic themselves anymore. Genres don't mean that much.

Songfacts: You're from Mexico?

Cabello: Yeah.

Songfacts: So, in Mexico, do you hear a lot of American music? How much of our music gets over the border?

Cabello: A lot. Obviously, the mainstream stuff always gets there, but a lot of the alternative stuff is stronger now because of the availability of the internet, and it's a big, big scene for bands that are not really mainstream, so those artists can tour now in Mexico.

Songfacts: Do you write the lyrics?

Cabello: I write all the words and the music, and I produce it. It's really my project.

Songfacts: And you have people help you fill it out when you perform?

Cabello: Yeah.

Songfacts: Are you a multi-instrumentalist too? Do you play multiple instruments?

Cabello: My main instrument is guitar and vocals, but I play a little bit of keys, not that much. I'm more in production.

Songfacts: And how did you get into music in the first place? Was your family musical?

Cabello: No. They listen to a lot of stuff - they really love music. They know and play a lot of things, so even from in the womb, my mom used to play all this stuff. She used to listen to The Beatles and other stuff like that, but she's got that rock influence, and my dad has that Mexican stuff like like cumbia and the folk stuff - more original stuff. I think that's a mixture of both.

Songfacts: Well, let's talk about a few more songs. What other songs are you proud of that you've recorded?

Cabello: This song called "Baia Baia," which has a little bit of a reggaeton feeling - that's booming now.

It's one of the first songs that we have that crossing into pop. People sometimes think about pop music like it's a bad thing, but it's not a bad thing.

Songfacts: It's not easy to do. If it was easy, everybody would be doing it.

Cabello: It sounds simple, but it's not simple at all. You can get elements from any genre - you hear very mainstream songs, but you can get stuff that you like - maybe it's the just the beat, maybe the bass, maybe the sound of the synth or whatever, but we've been influenced from everything. I love to listen to a lot of stuff. When you find new stuff, that's when you get inspired. I get inspired when I hear something new and I go "OK, how did they do it? How did they get this sound?"

Songfacts: What would you recommend to someone if they wanted to get an appreciation for Latin music?

Cabello: Check out a band called Los Angeles Azules, which means Blue Angels. They're a big band from the '70s, a big cumbia band, and they are very popular - they have a lot of classic Mexican songs. They're collaborating with new artists now, so they are re-versioning some songs and all that. It's just a nice sound. Like from the old days to the new days, you can still hear where cumbia really is in Mexico. I think they are the biggest band for cumbia.

Songfacts: What kind of music do you listen to that would surprise people?

Cabello: I listen to this band called Vulfpeck. It's like a new kind of funk but they are like big musicians, they are really awesome.

That band is on my playlist right now. I also like the stuff by Anderson .Paak. I really like what he does. I like stuff from all over - Spotify is a big tool for listening to what's going on around the world. Maybe you like a song from Finland, so you check out related artists. I like to listen to stuff from Syria and the Arab world, like how their old stuff evolved, the electronic stuff, because I'm also into electronic music. That might surprise people - electronic music, I like that too.

November 1, 2018
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