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Artist to Watch | Guaya


Rapid-fire Questions

1. What have you been listening to lately?

I'm at mi familias ranch in Zacatecas right now, its been a whole lotta rancheras and mariachi. My cousin who plays Vihuela just showed me an album called Corridos Pesados by Mariachi De Arranque that's frickin killer, it's all mariachi arrangements of Narcocorridos that are normally played with a banda or a grupo norteño. Aside from that i've been on an italian soundtrack kick recently, Piero Piccioni is a god (crying face emoji)

2. If I cashapp you $3 and you change your name to “Guaya (sponsored by Born Loser Magazine)” ?

I'll consider it foo jaja

3. What is BeReal.? Am I getting old??

The only B-Real i know is from Cypress Hill wey, they hella get down. They have an album of all their hits in spanish and its so frickin sick

4. Any of you ever trip over an extension cord and break a lamp after climbing up to the second floor to unlock the door of a friend’s grandpa’s house?

BRUHHHHHH yea. High school was a wild time, that was probably the most heroic thing I've ever done. We were going on a quick trip to feed their dog and we got locked out of the house with some incriminating stuff stuck inside. The squad's morale was running low as we tried every door and window with no luck, but I saw they had a balcony on the second floor and I was tall enough to reach it if I stood on a stepstool and jumped, so I gave it a shot. I was bone thin with no upper body strength, but by the power of the broskis I managed to pull myself up and the door that led inside was open. We were all going crazy and celebrating cause we had been trying to get back in for hours, and as i walked in, i tripped over an antique lamp and it shattered into a million pieces. I'd say it was worth it though.

5. What did you grow up listening to?

I was born in Fresno but I'm fortunate enough to be from a town in Mexico that is known for its live music, so whenever we would come back during the holidays I would be surrounded by bandas, mariachis, and small norteño groups. My brothers used to skate so there was always a lot of Sublime, The Doors, and The Strokes being played in the house when I was really little. I also remember hearing a lot of Too Short, Snoop Dogg and G Funk type of stuff when we would walk around town. Once I got a bit older and began finding my own music, I began to fall in love with punk and older east coast hip hop. My favorite album in 8th grade was the OG Version of Ready To Die by Biggie, which had alternate instrumentals to the songs that made it to the commercial album, mostly done by DJ Premier with some of the most beautiful and hard hitting samples. Once I got to high school I became interested in Soul music, which led to me playing bass in my school's Jazz Band, and I never looked back. Since then, Jazz has been a huge part of my life and taught me almost everything I know.

6. Last song that made you cry?

By The Time I Get To Phoenix by Glen Cambell. Its a Frickin banger

7. Any of y’all got any good salmon cake recipes?

I'm actually so proud of my salmon cakes wey, they hecka smack. The recipe is a secret though, imma take it to my grave.

8. What are the chances that you do a cover of “Believe” by cher?

I had never heard the full song before this moment, and i gotta say that shit smacks wey. I think I might have to do a cover of it now.

9. On a scale from 1-10 how much do you regret agreeing to do this interview? What can I do in the future to make it a WORSE interview?

First thing you gotta know about me is that I'm a sincere ass foo. Truly, I appreciate you reaching out, I checked out some of your other interviews and i'm a fan of your writing, it's a pleasure to be able to talk to yall.

10. Any local bands that we should check out?

Fresno’s scene is crazy wey, there's a lot. Paradise Blossom, Brujoz, Citrus, and Blk Sage are some of my favorites. Le Wolves will forever be an incredible band but they broke up a few years ago (rip)


Isaac Gutierrez for Born Loser Mag: To start things off, can you introduce yourself?

Guaya: Hey foo, I’m Guaya. The three things I love most in this life are my lady (hi Addy), Ahmad Jamal, and playing shows with my frickin compas wey.

I read in an interview that you have known each other since like middle school/ high school. Which band member was the most annoying back then?

Yeah, the dudes that play in my band and I have been close since we were kids. Me, Chin Chin (Bass), and Bella (Drums) were all the same age and have known each other the longest. Lil Matt (Keys) and Lalo (Vibes / Security) came into the picture during high school since we played in the High School Mariachi and Jazz Band together, though I didn't recruit them to play in Guaya until we had been out for a few years. Lil Matt has always been the most annoying though. There's absolutely no doubt about it. Even now. I can't even really put my finger on why, it's just something about his stupid face (I love you lil foo).

I read that the band or at least part of the band was in jazz band growing up? What instruments did you play?

I joined Jazz first during my sophomore year to play the bass. I had never played it before but I was just fascinated by Jazz and wanted to get in any way I could. Our band teacher (shoutout to the almighty Mr. Nance) told me that guitar players are a dime a dozen and I would get called for more gigs if I played bass, so I took his advice and it totally worked. I met Lil Matt in the Jazz Band where he played alto sax. I begged Bella to play drums and Chin Chin to play guitar so we could all go on the field trips together. It was a great experience and I think it got us very comfortable playing with each other, which comes in handy with live shows now since we’re able to improvise and play a bit more freely than most bands in this genre, whatever that means.

Were you involved in any other musical projects before Guaya?

Me, Chin Chin, and Bella had a punk band with another one of our homies when we were 16 called LAHONDO (rip) and we frickin shredded. Every day after school we would run to the homies garage and would play for hours and hours, just coming up with stuff on the fly and recording it on a lil android phone i had, which we’d stuff in a shoe and throw in the middle of us standing in a circle. I still have that phone somewhere and we had close to 300 demos, some of which I still listen to in awe. It was so good. Like really really really good. We were too inexperienced to really take it seriously though, and never managed to even book a show, but the music felt so real and the chemistry we had was very solid. Eventually, that homie became a lot more interested in smoking weed in the garage with his homies and the idea of us taking LAHONDO seriously slowly faded away. All love to the homie though, we all stayed close afterwards even if it wasn't within the context of us playing together. I look at it like a blessing though, if LAHONDO hadn't fallen apart when it did, i wouldn't have written most of the demos that turned into Guaya songs down the road.

How did you come together and decide to form a band?

I started Guaya as a diary. I always wanted to be a songwriter and a performer and I realized that the only way to get good would be to put in the work. When I was a senior in high school I challenged myself to write something everyday for 30 days. It didn't matter if it was good, as long as it had lyrics and music it would count. I had a calendar on my wall to keep track and I would cross off the days where I wrote something, pretty soon 30 days turned into 3 months. Once I noticed my notebook getting full I realized that it would be pointless to keep my writing to myself, so I learned how to multitrack on my phone and learned to play and record all the instruments on the recordings, which is something I still do to this day. Once I put my music out and decided to start playing shows, I knew exactly the dudes to call, and we've been playing ever since. The music behind Guaya is all me, though I know how lucky I am to have such talented dudes like this by my side, and it'd be a disservice to their talent to run things like a solo artist on stage. I wouldn't be the musician I am without them, so I want to run our live performances in a way where we can all shine and show what each of us has to offer. In that way, we’re a band.

How would you describe the music scene in Fresno?

Fresno is a very chaotic place and I think the scene used to reflect that in a major way, the bands and the kids that would go see them were almost all about the partying and bullshit. This led to a really tumultuous scene and a destructive cycle where there would be shows for a year or two, someone would get called out, things would blow up, people would get in fights, bands would go dormant or get chased out of town, then there'd be no shows for months. Another few bands would pop up and it'd start all over again, and the only people who would really suffer were kids like me and my friends that really cared about the music and just wanted to be a part of something. Ever since Guaya started, I've done my best to be a force for good in the scene, and try to bring some stability and unity into the equation. Fresno has soul, and it has a tremendous amount of talent, but we've just needed to get out of our own way enough to really take that seriously. And whether it's throwing shows together, showing love on socials, offering advice to the people getting started or whatever, there's always a way to lend a hand and help build the scene up. I believe it's my responsibility to show that as much as I can through my actions, and maybe new members of the scene will see that and pass it forward. There's always room for a healthy amount of competition, since it'll help motivate and get the scene sharper, but there's no room for hate or jealousy, we should be past that. Ultimately the only people we should be focusing on is ourselves. I'm starting to see a lot of change in the scene for the better though, and I'm very proud of that.

Not really about music, but those Guaya sweatshirts are sick. Where can we buy some merch?

Thank you foo <3 I put a lot of love into designing them. Unfortunately I'm strapped for cash right now and dont have much other than a few tees, though I will be printing a lot more soon in new colorways. I'll announce a drop on my insta soon (@guayaguayaguaya) and yall can dm to purchase.

Something I like about your music is that you can’t really box your sound in just one specific genre. Who do you consider you musical and nonmusical inspirations?

Honesty in music is important above all else, so I always gravitate toward people that are able to express that through their music. Tyler the Creator has always been huge in that sense, i downloaded Bastard on my ipod off of the OF website when i was like 13 and that totally changed my life. I had just never heard anyone put themselves out there like that, there is a tremendous amount of anger, violence, and vulnerability above all else on this record, and to this day, I've struggled to find anything else like that. The Garden means a lot to me, and for my money they're the last and only true punk band left. Brenton Wood, Mac Demarco, The Strokes, Pedro Infante, Vince Staples, Masayoshi Takanaka, John Coltrane, MF Doom, Los Tigres Del Norte, Jobim, Eslabon Armado and Andres Landero are all huge inspirations, though if you gave me a chance to make a list, itd never end. I just try to find something beautiful every day, the genre is irrelevant, I only care about the message. Outside of music, my biggest inspirations are my Tio Saul, que descanse en paz, who was the very first person to show me the spirit of music, and how powerful it could be if you really poured yourself into your performance, whether you're just trying to have fun or make everybody cry jajaja. My dad is also a huge part of my journey, he's not a musician and I've only ever heard him sing once, but he ran across the border at 15 and has worked his ass off his whole life just to give me and my family a shot to make something of ourselves. It's something I think about every day and it informs my work ethic. I refuse to let him down. That man is my hero.

From what I’ve been able to listen to on your Spotify, your sound is really diverse. What is your mindset or process going into making a song?

It's all about honesty and gravity. If I write something and I don't feel it in my heart while I'm singing it, it's pointless. I might start with a piece of music on whatever instrument or poetry I've scribbled in a notebook, but my ultimate goal is to be able to play it solo on an acoustic guitar or a piano. If I need a billion bells and whistles and special effects or gear to make something sound good, it's really not good. The bones need to be sturdy. Ultimately I'm just trying to get to the core of an emotion and if I'm not convinced that the song I'm writing is doing that, it's not ready.

The first song of yours was your cover of Sabor A Mi. Was there anything in particular that made you choose that song?

It's a song I heard a lot growing up in a mariachi style and I've loved the poetry behind it since forever, but the El Chicano version of the song took me somewhere I hadn't been before musically. I understood the power and grandiosity of the mariachi versions I had heard, though I just never heard it played like that. The chords were more complex and jazzy, the musicians were all improvising, the singer had real pain in her voice. It was something that I hadn't heard before, it felt so real. To this day it's the song I hold closest to my heart, and it has had a tremendous effect on the music I make. I just wanted to cover it to show my respect.

Can we expect an album or EP anytime soon?

Jaja no, not for a while. I think too many people put out albums that are pointless, that all just end up sounding like a collection of songs as opposed to its true utility as a long form project to convey a moment in time or a narrative or an emotion. I just haven't felt like I have something to say that would require a project on that scale yet. Maybe I will soon, who knows, but until then enjoy the singles <3.

Do you guys normally just play shows around the Fresno area? Or have you had a chance to tour at all?

We've mostly played in Fresno and a couple of shows in Northern California like Davis and SF, and though I love playing shows above all else, I think there's a lot of other aspects to Guaya’s recordings and promotion that need work. Once I get all of that dialed in and Guaya can make enough money to sustain a tour, I don't want it to stop. I wanna be a dog, playing shows everywhere, sleeping in a van, hanging out with my homies every night, and even though it'll be a struggle I know I wouldn't want to do anything else.

What would your ideal tour look like?

Me and the compas have always talked about fishing all over the country, so that's a huge part of it. I'd like to play in all 50 states and hopefully stop in small towns along the way to get to know the vibes and play a little bit for whoever’s interested, since im from a small town that never got shows and i know how much it would have meant to me to see my favorite musicians to just walk into my town. I'm not sure who i'd like to tour with but whoever it is i just hope they're cool and some of their skill and wisdom could rub off on us. I know i have a long way to go and a whole lot left to learn.

I feel like everyone always talks about their favorite show, BUT what has been your worst show experience?

Thankfully I haven't seen very many bad shows in my day, of course you have backyard shows here and there that turn out to be duds but who cares. Mostly that's just due to inexperience but I respect the band's courage to at least give it a shot, what I really hate seeing on stage is performers that have an attitude of “we’re too cool for the crowd”. There is a band called She-Devils that came through Fresno a few years ago and opened for Beach Fossils that fuckin suuuucked. It was a female singer and a dude with an analog mixer on stage, and for 40 minutes the dude turned knobs with the most arrogant look on his face, and the lady just mumbled her way through the songs. There was no live instrumentation, there was no energy, the arrangements were boring, and the whole thing had a “daddy's money sent us to art school” kind of vibe. I don't know how it was received in other places but that definitely didn't fly in Fresno. It was definitely a learning experience though, it made it obvious that the only thing you really need to put on a show is effort, and even if you aren't the most skilled, the crowd will recognize your intention.

What do you hope to accomplish with/through your music?

I've been listening to music obsessively since I was 10, after an especially tumultuous and traumatic time of my life. I realized that even if I felt alone I could always count on music to help me get through what was in front of me, and it was the healthiest coping mechanism I’ve had. Even if I have no one that can directly relate to what I'm going through, the person I'm listening to understands me. Listening to these musicians gave me the courage to be honest about my own situation and work things out in my own writing, and if I can inspire someone in the same way, it'll mean the world to me. I'd also like to try and give a voice to people who grew up in the same environment that I did, first generation kids who didn't know how to place themselves in this culture. Kids that love punk music and rancheras, that grew up driving 30 hours to Mexico every year to see their families. Kids that dream of driving suelo ass trucks, love wearing botas, and jumping into mosh pits. There's kids like me everywhere that have one foot on each side of the border, and we’re just beginning to craft our own culture. I'd want nothing more than to be a part of pushing that forward.

What can we expect to hear/see from Guaya in 2023?

Guaya is going through a rebirth this year. I'm starting from scratch and rerecording almost all of my music. I'm extremely proud of the songs I've put out so far and the love I put into them, though they're not at the quality I'd like for them to be. Guaya is starting to get a bit of traction these days, and I know down the road I'll feel like I wasted my chance to get my message out there with these songs due to an inexperienced recording. They all just need a bit more time in the oven, and I'm not afraid to take my time with them as long as they live up to the potential I know they can reach. I've also been experimenting with other genres and am very excited for a Corrido Tumbado i'll be releasing a bit later this year. I just want to make something that slaps when you're cruising en la mamalona wey.

To wrap things up, do you have any questions for me?

1.What are your thoughts on Corridos Tumbados?

2. Where is your family from originally?

3. Tacos or tortas?

4. Do you collect anything?

5.Can you name a band or an artist that you think doesn't get enough recognition?

6. Can we be compas?

I think this is the most questions I've ever gotten haha

1. I personally like them.I feel like they get a lot of hate especially from older listeners. To me it's kind of like the soundcloud/mumble rap era. It wasn't for me, but I'm all for letting people create something new. Let the kids have fun. My sentiment is that there is good music in every genre if you pay attention.

2. My Dad is from Veracruz, Mx and my Mom is from Taxco, Mx.

3. Tacos

4. I collect vintage wrestling tees, windbreakers from the 94 World Cup, and tees from 90s sitcoms.

5. Man, there's so many. I think I'd have to say the band Hotspit. I've been listening to them a lot lately.

6. For Sure!

Thank you so much for taking the time to do this! Really looking forward to hearing more from you in the near future.

Thanks again foo, much love -Guaya


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