Tony Gallardo, the man behind the innovative sounds of what we know as María y José, has finally released his sophomore album Club Negro. The LP has been sonically groomed and dressed since his 2010 debut, with Espíritu Invisible. There's a method to Gallardo's madness, and those who know him best know he is his own worst critic. With that said, know that María y José wants listeners to get premium sensory enlightenment, up to and including the packaging of the product, using head-turning photography for Club Negro -- es político.
Everything about this album is intentionally provocative, and it will steer you to dig beyond the thumping ruidosón sounds. Some of his song titles will also get you wondering, like “Banaguana” and “M v t i v s.” Tony Gallardo is fashion, music and politics all rolled up into one one -- without the pretentiousness, thank God.
Dita Quiñones: What excited you most about releasing Club Negro?
María y José: The release itself. I just wanted to release it. I was tired of having it hidden for a long time.
DQ: Exciting to see the collabs on the album. What exactly did Matilda Manzana and Sheeqo Beat contribute on their respective features?
MyJ: Sheeqo's song is a remix we put out a long time ago, but it still made it on the record because I always played it at my live shows. So, I asked Sheeqo to use his version, and he said yes. Oscar helped with the guitar loops, chorus and the name of the song, too. I love these talented guys.
DQ: Even Los Macuanos tweeted in support of you saying, "Si no han escuchado CLUB NEGRO aún, ¿qué están haciendo con sus vidas?' How does it feel knowing you got their support?
MyJ: It feels great. I mean, we started the ruidosón thing three years ago, and we had some problems, but we'll keep supporting each other!
DQ: I read one review saying you had a Kendrick Lamar reference in your song "Ultra." What are they talking about?
MyJ: The original version -- not the iTunes one -- has this "A rin tin tin tin" sample. I love that sample because it takes me to the first time I've heard it on Mighty Dub Katz “Magic Carpet Ride.''
DQ: Your album cover is so creative. The woman on the cover with you is also in your video "Club Negro" -- whom does she symbolize? What's her real name?
MyJ: She symbolizes the victims of violence. On the cover, I'm the violence. She's being kidnapped by the violence. And her face shows her like she's now OK with it and she can't do nothing about it. Her real name is Adriana Tangassi.
Music. Community. Culture.
DQ: I know you're in the genre of ruidosón, but some say you're mixed with tribal. I also hear some references from rap's dirty south DJ Screw influence. Is any of this correct?
MyJ: There's a lot of tribal guarachero's influence. People need to stop hating on tribal as if listening to rock makes one a better person. There's a lot of everything because I'm always listening to lots of music. Music is music. I just wanna make music. I don't care about the tags.
DQ: American dance music is about alcohol, weed, sex and partying. Like Los Macuanos, you create alluring dance music but the songs are deep -- they talk about relationships and political unrest. What pulls you to have deeper topics in your songs?
MyJ: I just talk about things that are happening around my life. Writing about banal things is gonna make one into a banal person. And I want to throw that away -- I'm more than that. Also, I hate people that don't care about my lyrics, they just listen to the music, and it makes me wanna punch them in their face [jokingly laughs].
DQ: What's a “Banaguana” and “M v t i v s”?
MyJ: When Oscar of Matilda Manzana and I began exchanging loops for a song, he sent me this loop called “Banaguana.” I asked why he named it that way, and he told me because he misread the word guanabana -- I liked it. “M v t i v s” is really Matías, my baby's name. But I just put the A's that way.
María y José's official album release is at Nuevo León on June 8. He will be on tour promoting Club Negro in the fall. Follow María y José for his cheeky tweets en Spanglish.
Dita Quiñones is a multimedia journalist born in Tijuana with a passion for Latin alternative and hip-hop music news. Her main goal is to uplift and inform so that the Latino and Hip-Hop community get knitted into the fabric of American history. In addition to SoundDiego, she contributes to Latina, FOX News Latino, Poder, VidaVibrante, and HipHopDx. She is also the founder of the infamous music and politrix blog GN$F! Follow Dita on Twitter.