Latin-Psych Rock Duo Mascarada to Release Debut Single on Cinco de Mayo
May 5, 2017
There’s a lot going on in “Contéstame” (“Answer Me”), the opening track off the self-titled debut album by Latin Psych Rock duo Mascarada. And no wonder. Members, Leana Courtney and Shawn Grindle have woven together two sounds, two musical traditions and created something enchantingly different. “I just remember driving in Phoenix with Shawn,” Courtney recalls, “and he proposes the idea of doing a Latin Psych Rock project.” She was a little hesitant about collaborating with another musician. “The process took me completely out of my musical comfort zone,” she says, but “it wasn’t as hard as I imagined.”
“Contéstame” is the first song Courtney and Grindle recorded together, their firstborn if you will. The seed came from an unfinished track Courtney had recorded previously. “It had some mild Latin flavor,” says Grindle, “and an interesting melody, but what was the most intriguing about it was the bass line.” Grindle suggested picking up the tempo of the original and switching the piano with a more rocking guitar. “Within an hour, we had it done.” The resulting track is the original expression of what Mascarada is all about. Both the Latin and the Psych sounds are there, but the mix is subtle, with neither one looking to upstage the other. The duo clearly has an intuitive feel for each other. “The whole track was recorded in a day,” remembers Grindle.
A glockenspiel tingles, once, twice, as if calling you to dinner, or perhaps warning you of an incoming storm. An old-fashioned keyboard prologue puts you back at ease as the drums, strings, and vocals all come to the table and slide into place. It’s lovely, perhaps a bit bucolic at first. You’re feeling pretty comfortable, finding your groove with the tune. But then the refrain bursts to life with its bold, even rash, guitar lick and its beseeching chorus: “Answer me! Answer me!” It’s a little disconcerting, this switch in tone, but it’s meant to be and it works.
If you were to smush together the sultry rhythms of tropicalia with the rebellious strings of rock en español, then added a sprinkle of psychedelic electronica, you would be close to the full experience of listening to “Contéstame,” but not totally there. You would be missing Leana Courtney’s siren vocals, possibly the MVP of the whole sound. The lyrics, written by Courtney, are deceptively simple. “I want to ask you something important,” the voice lures you in with a crystalline purr. “Will you walk the Earth with me… tomorrow?”
“Contéstame” is a love song. But, as it turns out, “you” is not some imaginary character but you, the you who is listening, the you who can’t help but fall under Courtney’s spell. And then, without warning, her voice turns serrated and bites into your neck and grabs onto you in a new way. “Answer me! Answer me!” Now you’re a little worried by the feral energy, but then the purr returns to calm you down, and brings you along on the journey, to the sea and to the mountain’s peak. “Will you stay with me?” she demands. “Answer me! Answer me!” And you think, how could I say no to that?
Courtney and Grindle loved “Contéstame”. They immediately “decided to move forward and work out an entire record.” And so they have. Mascarada will be making their live debut on May 9, 2017 at the Hotel Café in Los Angeles. Their self-titled LP is set for independent release later this summer.
LA MUSIC BLOG
Mascarada Releases Single “Contestame”
Psychedelic Latin rock duo plays Hotel Cafe 5/9
May 5th, 2017
Endless inspiration and creativity freedom permeates Los Angeles, making any kind of music genre feel possible. Guitarist and vocalist Shawn Grindle, who hails from of one of our local favorite groups The Mosaics (formerly Town in the City), is embracing LA’s boundless possibility by blending his trippy rock roots with bilingual singer-songwriter Leana Courtney with the new act Mascarada. The duo blends Grindle’s psychedelic musical background with Courtney’s Latin fusion to create soulful, 60s-rock soaked tunes.
Working with unfinished demos of songs that were never completed, the two combined their styles, collaboration to create the unique sound. Courtney writes the Spanish lyrics while Shawn handles the production side, such as Courtney’s velvety, effect-driven vocals.
This year, the pair recorded a self-titled full length due out this July. The LP will explore different styles and genres through the lens of traditional psychedelic sound. You can take a listen to the first single “Contéstame” below.
PREMIERE // Mascarada – Bate Bate
When I was sent an email with Mascarada‘s first single, Contéstame, several weeks ago, I was unable to pass up the promise of its subject line: New retro Latin psych rock. The genre blend seemed so simple, obvious even – and yet like nothing I had quite heard before.
I quickly dove into the music, satisfying my curiosity in the deep grooves of Mascarada’s melodies – which did not disappoint.
The next week, I went to see the band’s first live performance at Hotel Cafe in Hollywood, where they packed a six man band complete with violin, two guitars, and keys, onto the tiny stage. Shawn Grindle and Leana Courtney are the core duo behind Mascarada, and their strong chemistry is a key ingredient in the music’s magnetism and passion.
Their unique blend of retro guitar riffs, Latin grooves, rich instrumentation, and, of course, Leana’s powerful voice, is tough to listen to while sitting still. Within minutes they had the whole room going, swaying and hanging on every word. And I, too, was hooked.
Today, we’re proud to premiere Mascarada’s second single, Bate Bate, from their forthcoming self titled debut. Leana says of the songs beginnings,
“I remember Shawn had created the music for Bate and had showed it to me but I never got too attached to it until one day. I was sitting at home inspired to write some music so I asked him to send me the track again and within minutes I had the melody and lyrics. I was really influenced by the style of the Alabama Shakes for this one. I remember thinking, ‘get weird, it’ll be cool.’
The song literally means, ‘stir the chocolate’ and it’s inspired by a traditional Mexican song of the same name from my childhood. After I recorded a sample and sent it to Shawn he was out with friends but he listened to it as soon as he could and called me after 30 seconds of the song and told me he loved it. That was it, we didn’t change a thing. We went into the studio and recorded it exactly like the demo. It’s the only song that’s was written fifty-fifty, Shawn writing the music and me writing the lyrics.”
It’s a strong and sensual song, evocative of liquidity and heat. Leana’s voice is sometimes the chocolate and sometimes the stirring stick, continually moving the song in new dynamic directions.
Mascarada’s full LP is set to be released in July. If you’re around LA, you’ll be able to catch their record release show around that time, too – a treat that’s not to be missed. Keep up to date with the band on their Facebook page.