Locos por Juana, a Grammy and Latin Grammy nominated Latin band, has been a fixture of the Miami music scene since the group formed in 2000. Their diverse backgrounds and unique fusion of Latin, Caribbean, and American sounds transcends regions and styles in creating a unique musical genre. Lead vocalist Itawe Correa chats with us about how Locos por Juana makes their music, their recent performance at SXSW, and what to look forward to next.
HipLatina: Since I first heard about you guys I was curious and had to ask… where does the name Locos por Juana come from?
Itawe Correa: Juana is the mythical female that everyone wants to be and who everyone looks for inspiration in. There’s always that someone who inspires you—whether it’s your grandma, mom, wife, or sister. We personally draw a lot of inspiration from the women in our lives and wanted to manifest this in the name of our band.
HL: You guys are a big part of the Miami music scene, but I’ve noticed that your sound differs a lot from the Latin pop dominating the airwaves in South Florida. What inspires your sound?
IC: Music used to be more streamlined by region or genre. People would try to define a hip hop artist’s style as being specific to New York or the West Coast. But nowadays you can be a rapper from anywhere with any kind of sound. With this new generation it’s not so much about different genres; it’s about creating a universal music everyone can listen to. And a lot of people aren’t into just one kind of music or listening to that music 24/7. Things have changed. Music is music and it’s about the vibe. The reality is that we get inspired by our different identities and all of the different cultures and ethnicities in the city here.
HL: There can still be a tendency to associate certain types of music as originating from a certain place. Your music incorporates a lot of contrasting styles from different areas. How do you make this happen?
IC: It’s natural for us. We make music from our hearts. We don’t think about needing to have a certain sound or genre. There are so many ways that you can use music to touch people. It has to do with your mind and your passion. I don’t think music can be defined as American, Jamaican, or Colombian. Music should break down these boundaries because it’s something that brings people together.
HL: When I was checking you guys out on YouTube, the recommendations for the next videos were what can be heard on the mainstream reggaeton and Latin pop radio stations. Do you view your music as part of this genre or something separate?
IC: There’s a certain recipe for music that you hear on the radio. It’s like when you go to McDonald’s—you know what you’re getting when you order a Big Mac. But we’re not selling burgers, we’re selling empanadas. It’s going to be a little bit different every time. On the radio a few artists are sticking to the same recipe and you feel like you’re hearing the same song with different lyrics by a different artist. To ask why they do this? I have no idea—and it’s not necessarily a good or bad thing to follow that recipe. It’s about choosing a style that you know everybody is going to like. That’s what you want if you’re making music for the radio. But there are so many ways to reach people—it doesn’t have to be on the radio. Even someone like Bob Marley was never on the radio at first. We make music from our hearts and from the people who inspire us. People may try to say Locos por Juana has a certain sound but it’s not like that. Over the years our sound has evolved and changed, and it puts in perspective who we are and where we’re coming from. Our next album is titled Caribe and it’s all about how beautiful the Caribbean is and how everything we have here is just magical. The energy around us here really inspires us.
HL: Since your songs are primarily in Spanish, do you think this impacts or reflects on your fans and audience?
IC: So our latest album is a lot more of a hybrid with about 40% in English and 60% in Spanish. We wrote a lot of songs in English for this album. It’s not really a conscious decision that we made—we just started writing some songs in English. Nowadays it’s not just about speaking in English and translating it—it’s harder than that because it’s about really speaking and having meaning to what you say in both languages. It would be a lot easier to think and speak in just one language, but it’s not so simple with music. We’ve spent a lot of time in Miami and we’ve become citizens here, but we’re still considered Colombians. And then when we go back to Colombia we’re seen as American–so we’re caught between the two worlds and I think that you hear that in our music.
HL: What was your experience like performing at SXSW? How did this open you up to other artists and performers or possible collaboration opportunities?
IC: Every artist who goes to perform at SXSW is really passionate about their music. A lot of people don’t realize this but no one is paying you to be there. So the groups performing are there to share their music and that’s a beautiful thing. There’s a certain chaos there with so many artists, but it’s an experience that everyone should have. You’re going to find amazing music that you can connect with and feel good about. You’ll hear music which is really fresh for your ears. Whenever we find something new and fresh we always like to think about possibilities for collaboration.
HL: What’s next for Locos por Juana?
IC: We just finished our sixth album, Caribe, about 3 weeks ago. It’s an amazing album and we’re proud of it. It’s one of the albums where I think we’re going to have a big impact on our listeners. And the collaborations are magical. We have Talib Kweli and Dispatch from Boston, such an amazing lineup of artists. It’s nice to be able to collaborate with people who share the same vision, and think about music the way we do. We have the lyric video out for our next single, ‘The Cure’, featuring Bermudian reggae star Collie Buddz and we’re going to be filming the video in the next few weeks. We already released the video for the first single from the album, ‘Mueve, Mueve.’ We have a nice tour starting in June—we’ll be in New York, Washington, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Baltimore and will have a good group traveling with us. Along the way, we’ll be stopping at Wine & Jazz Festival on June 25 at the WSU Tri-Cities Campus and Tropicalia in Washington D.C. on June 26.