Blanca: I was at your show last night at Mercury Lounge and wasn’t familiar with your music beforehand. But I really liked what I heard and I found your sound really intriguing because it’s very distinct and not like anything else I’ve heard before. What approach do you take when you’re making music?
David: It has that effect on me.
Blanca: Do you feel you had that effect on the crowd last night?
Marcos: It’s tough when you play such a short set. I feel like it takes me at least 10 minutes to feel warmed up, and it probably takes the audience that much time, too. At first, people don’t know what to make of it, and eventually the beat wears them down and they get sucked into it.
David: That’s part of the approach for the live show. We’re creating multiple worlds and drawing people into it. It takes a while to establish what the world is and for people to get comfortable in it. But once they’re comfortable, we take it up and take them with us.
Marcos: It’s a futuristic soundscape with highly syncopated rhythms that originate in Africa and Cuba and are re-contextualized in New York through the experience of living here and being bicultural and having Latin cultural references and American ones. All that informs the music and the Chico sound.
Blanca: And what does it take to create this world?
David: Yeah, there are so many different ways of entering into peoples’ consciousness.
Marcos: Imagine an archival recording of a style of music that never was. In my mind, when I started recording the first album, I was imagining a studio in New York, uptown somewhere, when drum machines were starting to be used. Imagine if Afrobeat had made more of an impact and what that would have done in the context of electronic drum machines and the early days of hip hop. That was the mental space that I was in when I was recording.
David: The thing about Marcos is that he’s kind of in his own world, which is why the music comes out, if I may say so, super fresh and genuine. It doesn’t sound like anything else. What’s cool is that people are getting more ready for the sound because there’s this whole tropical bass scene that’s coming up. It’s massaging people’s ears to be ready for it. People won’t be ready, but they’ll be ready, you know? They won’t know that they’re ready. Then afterwards they’ll be, like, "Wow, I was definitely ready for that."
Blanca: What are you working on right now?
Marcos: I’m working on the next album, which might be more than can even fit on an album. But it’s taking on the same concepts of the first album and expanding on them. From there, there are a couple of points of departure into the worlds of merengue and a little bit of digital cumbia, giving it an Afro Cuban sensibility.
David: People need to know that they can’t sleep on Chico Mann because then they’re going to feel so stupid. So, don’t sleep.*
*I second this statement.