Ozomatli Answers!

February 23, 2011

Ozomatli

Ozomatli has declared 2011 to be the year to focus on oZokidZ! They will be performing at The Canyon Club on March 5th at 3PM, doors open at 2PM. They will also be performing at McCabes on March 13th at 11AM.

Here is our interview with Wil-Dog. His answers are italicized.

Because it’s fascinating how the band formed, please let us know in your own words and how the original band members met and came to play so many different types of music.

Each band member has their own unique experience of running into other future band members prior of us becoming Ozomatli in the LA City school system. Whether it be in a music summer program or some kind of band settings or school band meetings. When we got together it started with one person calling one of our friends and that person calling another friend and so on and so forth. We invited musicians to come participate in a benefit concert for a youth center in Downtown LA that we started called “The Peace and Justice Center”. When we had our first rehearsal, we had such an eclectic mix of musicians with so many styles of music that we each took turns showing each other the music we were into at that time. We created our own songs out of those styles. We were pretty much open to anything as long as it made people dance.

Why and when did you start OzoKids?

Mario, our drummer now of 8 years, thought it would be cool about two years ago to do an Ozokidz record. At that point it was just an idea, no one saw much of it. Then February 2010 we were playing at the House of Blues Chicago on a Monday or Tuesday night. We have always been fortunate at the HOB Chicago and never had a problem selling tickets there, but this specific night was different. I didn’t know why we weren’t selling tickets so I went on our Facebook and asked people in Chicago if they wanted to come to our show for free – basically giving them tickets. I received so many responses back saying, “I’d love to come but I can’t get a babysitter”. We realized that a lot of our fans now are having children themselves so we decided to develop a concert that Ozo fans can bring their children to. Now that we started to do these children shows we’re realizing that we need to actually create a whole different show that really engages children. That this isn’t for parents necessarily but parents can enjoy it as well. We realize that we really need to start with the kids and entertain them and give them something to walk away with.

Do you play different music at an OzoKids show?

Yes we play some of Ozomatli classics that are high energy that children will enjoy but we also have a whole slew of songs that are just for kids shows that we don’t play at regular Ozomatli shows. We explain to the kids how to put on a show  and the kids in the audience become Ozokidz stage crew members.

Are any special effects toned down for the children’s concerts or will there still be a big truck?  

Well the difference is that we keep the volume very low at the kids show and there’s no acoustic sounds coming off the stage. It’s all being controlled by the sound person at the front of house. Kids of all ages can enjoy it without hurting their ears.

Do any of the members have kids themselves?

Yes, many of us have children and we learn from our children what works and what doesn’t prior to bringing it to a concert setting. Our children also develop different ideas that have been implemented into the show such as a VIP kids only section, other characters in the show that we use, as well as Asdru’s daughter is actually singing lead on one of the songs.

A fan seems to remember the group occasionally performing under a pseudonym – how did that come to be and why?

The reason why we use pseudonyms is because sometimes we don’t have everyone in the band performing or contractually we cannot use the name Ozomatli during that time period.

The groups has changed group members several times – is there a policy in the band regarding this change – how are new members incorporated?

I think how it started was, we started with 10 people in the band with our first album. During the 2nd record we had 4 members leave the band at the same time. For many years we tried to fill those spots with other people. That eventually wouldn’t work out so we would try to fill it again with someone else. The further away we got from the original line up, we realized that those people were irreplaceable to begin with so we decided to move on with the group we had. Now we have the original 6 members plus Mario, who has been on drums for 8 years.

What was it like to become cultural ambassadors for the State Department under the Bush Administration? What were your experiences being cultural ambassadors during that time period?

In the beginning we were really concerned with working with the State Department during that time, but after doing those trips we realized that there are a lot of different individuals working in the State Department. In a way I think, some of those people asking us to participate in these tours was their way of protesting against the Bush Administration by bringing us. It was a great experience – learning more about the world and being able to exchange music and art with so many different cultures and also playing for thousands of children. We took away lots of inspiration and energy and put that into our music.

How did the decision come to be to continue promoting your second album, Embrace The Chaos, after September 11th, 2001?

I don’t think it was necessarily about promoting our album anymore. Our album was pretty much done and no one was buying anything, but we thought it was important to continue to play. Actually, one of our first stops was in NYC just 14 days after September 11. Pretty much everyone in the audience knew someone or had a family member die in the world trade center. During that show, we realized that our music brought some healing to those people. Everybody in the audience thanked us for coming and not avoiding the city. So after that experience, we knew we were doing the right thing.

Details:

Ozomatli

www.ozomatli.com

The Canyon Club

http://www.canyonclub.net/

McCabes Concert Listings

http://www.mccabes.com/condata.html


Advertisements

5 Responses to “Ozomatli Answers!”

  1. CindyC Says:

    Great interview, MJ. Thanks so much!


  2. I’m glad you asked about their ambassador-ship – what a great story! As a Latina kids music artist & Ozo fan I could not be MORE thrilled about the OzoKids CD! I’m taking my 3-year old to the McCabes show.

  3. Janine Negrin Says:

    So informative, I have not heard about them in a while.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: