Grammy winner La Santa Cecilia is not the only socially conscious, female-fronted, Latino band out of East L.A. El Haru Kuroi is fronted by Mexican-American Eddika Organista, with bassist Michael Ibarra and drummer/percussionist Dominique "Chief" Rodriguez. Their sound is a mix of Mexican, Brazilian and African, and they've built a strong following in L.A.
El Haru Kuroi has a gig Sunday night at The Continental Room in Fullerton, so I commandeered their rehearsal last night and turned it into an Off-Ramp interview, talking with Eddika and listening to a few of their songs.
Eddika's cross-cultural story is a familiar one in Southern California: her mother crossed the Mexican border when she was pregnant with Eddika and was deported when her daughter was about six. Eddika returned to the U.S. in elementary school and then during high school went back to Mexico with her father. Eddika says she got her musical start from her father, a conservatory-trained guitarist, and from her training at Pasadena City College under Professor Bobby Bradford.
Their sound? As one reviewer puts it:
The influence of Brazil’s Tropicalia movement weighs heavy on them, yet much like those artists involved in that movement, El Haru Kuroi adapted the music they grew up on and took the essence. The result is a haunting mixture of Bossa Nova and Boleros mixed with urgency of post-punk groups like Gang Of Four and Fugazi.
Just one question remains. That name. El Haru Kuroi. Eddika explained to Afroxander of Remezcla Musica:
I was on the bus. My dad had just returned from Japan and he gave me his English-Japanese dictionary. I wanted it not to be in Spanish or English or in Portuguese and I was looking for words that described us in a way. I looked up dark, black, and spring. I was born in the spring. I felt like our music could have beauty but it could [also] have a lot of darkness in it. We could be playing something really beautiful and sweet but the lyrics are really dark. And we added “El” because a friend of ours was like “you guys should do something in Spanish. Your stuff’s in Spanish.”