International band, Jenny and the Mexicats are celebrating their ten years together. To commemorate, as well as to promote their latest album, Mar Abierto, they are touring through México, Europe, and South America.
Double bass player, Luis Diaz, who also goes by Icho, shared the story of how their journey as musicians have brought them together. He said the band started by playing in parties of 15 or 20 people at a time, and grew from that.
“The people have helped us a lot,” Icho said. “They have given us everything, basically. Since we are an independent group, we don’t work with a record label, we depend one hundred percent on the people, by word of mouth, or when we play again in the same city, that there’s more people, that’s what helps.”
The band is formed of vocalist and co-writer Jenny Ball, born and raised in London, England, bassist Icho, guitarist and co-writer Pantera, who are both from México, and Spanish drummer David Gonzalez Bernardos. According to Icho, Ball first met Icho and Pantera in a Tablao where the two played together. Ball was going to compete with her symphony orchestra and they happened to go as a trip to that show. Two years later, Icho and Ball decided to play together in a festival that Ball was organizing in England, which was when they decided to start the band, who was then named Los Pachucos y la Princesa.
“It was more of a coincidence,” Icho said. “At first we were just playing together at that festival just for fun, but it ended up being very successful and that’s how we decided to start the band.” As far as their name, Icho mentioned they had to change it mainly because people couldn’t pronounce it in the UK.
The origin of their blend, along with their different nationalities, comes from what each band member was working on before the group got together, which wasn’t anything serious for any of them, according to Icho. Gonzalez was working in the flamenco world, while Icho and Pantera had a rockability and punk group, and Jenny would play folk at open mics – each member in different worlds, bringing it all together.
“And we also have always been influenced by the country where we live in,” Icho said. “For example, these six years that we have lived in México, the Mexican folkloric music has influenced us. The combination of all these situations is what have influenced our sound, for example, the combination we use with cumbia, too, that we play a lot of cumbia, that has to do with México.”
Aside from cumbia, the band has gotten other influences coming from Mexican culture. The Son from Veracruz makes an appearance in their music every now and then, as well as merengue. Icho shares that they don’t like to miss an opportunity to try new things, specially when they visit different countries.
Furthermore, the ten-year journey they have taken on together has made them a family, according to Icho. Living in three different countries and going on tour for ten years along with producing their music together, have gotten them to develop a close relationship. The video of their song “Aprendimos” contains footage of their journey as musicians together, in which they have painted an “X” on their faces, symbolizing the ten years, in Roman numeral.
“We’re a group with a familiar feel,” Icho said. “We also produce all our music, and we do some of our management. We work together as a company for the most part too, so our relationship is very close.”
For the group, the “Mexicat spirit” is mainly about having a good time and enjoying oneself.
“Our music is lively,” Icho said. “We give a lot of importance to music itself. We don’t guide ourselves by which genre sells the most, we just feel it, and you can tell by our performance in shows.”
Now that the band stepped into their ten-year milestone, they are trying to enjoy the road and see where time takes them later.
“We enjoy growing, and we have grown a lot, but we believe that we still have more way to grow,” Icho said. “We are also very thankful to the people that have been following us these ten years, and we hope that they also keep on following us for ten years more.”
By Aimée Santillán
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