Bootleg Orchestra
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Bootleg Orchestra

Long Beach, California, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2015

Long Beach, California, United States
Established on Jan, 2015
Band Electronic Soul

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This band hasn't logged any future gigs

Oct
28
Bootleg Orchestra @ Aquarium of the Pacific

Long Beach, California, United States

Long Beach, California, United States

Oct
01
Bootleg Orchestra @ Village Fest

Long Beach, California, United States

Long Beach, California, United States

Sep
25
Bootleg Orchestra @ Music Tastes Good Festival

Long Beach, California, United States

Long Beach, California, United States

Music

Press


"Long Beach Musical Collective Releases Debut EP, Hopes to Inspire Social Change"

Good music and the “health of our society” are the two main ideas behind the new Long Beach musical collective Bootleg Orchestra. Heavily influenced by the city’s cultural diversity and therefore, its eclectic music scene, the soul and jazz-inspired pop group want to empower their listeners to create social change on their own.

bootlegBootleg Orchestra released their debut EP on Friday, a compilation of five tracks created by multi-instrumentalist and female producer Menchie Caliboso, producer Chris Walker and singer Vanessa Acosta, who make up the three core members of the collective’s “soulful pop on the edge of jazz-infused R&B” sound.

“When we listen to what our music tells us, we can begin to learn about different communities of Long Beach,” Caliboso said. “Bootleg Orchestra is a representation of Long Beach's diversity. I'm Filipino, Vanessa is Mexican, and Chris is Black-Native American.”

Before the birth of Bootleg, the trio founded rock band Feed The Feeble, a four-year project strained by distance when Caliboso moved to Boston to pursue a career in Music Therapy. All was not lost, however, as she began experimenting with beat production. Inspired by the likes of Bonobo, ToKiMonsta, Teebs and Hiatus Kaiyote, Caliboso made beats in her bedroom for two years, then moved back to Long Beach.

Upon her return, Acosta’s background in community organizing, including her lyrical abilities and “Fiona Apple-esque” vocals combined with Walker’s rhythmic sense and and knack for sound production lifted the bare bones of Caliboso’s work into something much more tangible.

Along with their first EP, the trio also released the music video for “Phenomenon”, a track Caliboso described as “lyrically meaningful” because it carries “a universal message of needing a cultural change in our systems - health care, education, and our economy.”

She continued, “As millennials, we want to create actionable change, but we have the unique problem (compared to other generations) of being hindered by the rising costs of basic needs - education, housing, and a competitive job market.”

Caliboso said that Phenomenon best describes the collective because it’s the one song they began from scratch together, versus other tracks where a member would bring a completed instrumental to the table and then have “Vanessa do her thing.”

“I only had the verse and the drums,” she said, “but we spent hours in the studio building on its sound, with Chris adding a lot of textures[...], Vanessa adding her amazing melodic and lyrical touch, and me just trying to [figure out] where the song wants to go next. In the end, it came out as a story.”

The Bootleg Orchestra trio attended Long Beach Polytechnic High School and entrenched themselves in its youthful jazz scene. Many of the featured musicians on the EP are jazz musicians they went to high school with, who, according to Caliboso, still come home to Long Beach from their professional gigs to play at Que Sera and to jam at Roxanne’s.

David T. Walker (Marvin Gaye/Stevie Wonder), Brandon Eugene Owens (Kendrick Lamar/Robert Glasper), Vicky Nguyen (Anderson Paak), and Emile Martinez (Kamasi Washington) are just a few of the talented friends who assisted in the creation of the self-titled EP. The compilation also includes a track completely produced by Walker himself, while CATO, a jazz and classically-trained vocalist, sings about her experience observing the Charlie Hebdo tragedy from a distance.

“I hope listeners know that Long Beach is a treasure of all sorts of music and it's only like that because of our culturally diverse city,” she continued. “Being situated right outside of LA, there's a plethora of music that we're absorbing and eclectic sounds that we're producing. We should really own that[...]”

She added, “With songs like "Phenomenon" and "Here We Are," I hope the songs challenge listeners to reflect on their role in society and in their future because the livelihood of our society need people to take risks, be courageous, and create change.”

Bootleg Orchestra plans to release a full-length album within the next year and are also working on a live show set to occur sometime in mid-June. - Asia Morris


"Song Premiere: “In Control” by Bootleg Orchestra + Guide to Long Beach, CA"

This September, Bootleg Orchestra — producer Menchie Caliboso and vocalists Vanessa Acosta and Marley Balin — will take the stage at the inaugural Music Tastes Good Festival in Downtown Long Beach alongside acts like De La Soul, Sylvan Esso, and Gallant.

Ahead of their festival debut and an in-studio appearance at Dublab on August 29, comes the premiere of their single “In Control." The release marks a rebirth of the band, showcasing the trio’s militant yet graceful feminism that emanates in their electronica, hip-hop, and soul-inspired songs.

“Control is a representation of where we are today creatively. It’s the first I’ve produced from scratch with both Vanessa and Marley, who co-wrote the lyrics and melody. It shows that women can come together and produce good music from start to finish. Moreover, it’s women singing about self-determination and resilience. We need that in the music industry,” says Caliboso.

As one of only a handful of local acts on the Music Tastes Good bill, the band chatted with us about their hometown, what this festival means for the Long Beach music scene, and what to do here when you’re visiting.

Hear the exclusive premiere of "In Control" below, and read on for Bootleg Orchestra's guide to Long Beach:


What three words would you use to describe Long Beach?
Diverse. Friendly. Progressive.

How would you describe the current music scene there?
Marley Balin: It’s very community-based. When you go to local shows, a large portion of the audience are other local musicians checking out and supporting each other.
Menchie Caliboso: It’s more active than ever. LB is the second most diverse city and naturally so is our music. So, there’s a growing desire in the LB music community to celebrate all sorts of different music.

How has the city informed your music? And how is it reflected in your music?
MC: The city has influenced our lyric writing because LB is a very progressive city with a lot of strong community organizing that Vanessa and I are involved with.
MB: We have some elements of rock, electronica, hip hop, and jazz. Plus, we are creating a sound that is not really here in Long Beach or maybe anywhere else, so I think that influences us in a way.
Vanessa Acosta: It’s inevitable. The city is just a part of who we are. Long Beach keeps me well and musically fed. I’m constantly being surrounded by creativity.

What sets the LB Music scene aside from bigger markets like LA and OC?
MC: We have a small music scene, so the community vibe is a lot easier here. The venues are close to each other and social circles tend to overlap. LA is a little bit distracting. LB in general is laid-back, so we have the luxury to be more introspective and be in our creative space to make music.

What are your favorite places to catch a show in Long Beach?
MB: Federal Underground. Alex’s Bar is pretty cool sometimes too. It’s dark and there’s a very open space, which is really nice for dancing without people looking at each other.
MC: 4th Street Vine. It’s not an actual venue, but…
MB: It’s like playing in your backyard for your friends, except it’s in a community wine lounge.

What are some of your favorite events?
MB: I love the Folk Revival Festival and Buskerfest. The community organizes so many socials, like the midnight mass, which is a huge midnight bike ride with other riders through Long Beach.
MC: Fight Club at Que Sera. It’s a monthly show of jazz, hip-hop, neo-soul, plus lots of dancing. It’s packed every single month. We’ve seen larger independent artists, like Iman Omari, Tiffany Gouche, and Shafiq Husayn there. On top of that, a local band also usually plays before the featured guest, and most of the time it’s a band called Via Leaves, headed by our friend Kelsey who is also Anderson Paak’s bassist. I always leave feeling inspired to keep pushing myself as a musician, because the musicians at Fight Club are well-disciplined, trained, and passionate musicians that do it full-time.


Que Sera courtesy of Fight Club LBC.

What’s your favorite neighborhood?
MC: The East Anaheim Corridor, specifically the Zaferia District where you have a lot of different ethnic mom-and-pop restaurants. You can get Mexican, Cambodian, Thai, Vietnamese, and even Trinidadian food.

Best restaurant(s) in your neighborhoods?
MB: Crooked Duck.
MC: Oooh, El Sauz tacos. It’s a taco window open til 3a.m.!
VA: Long Beach Thai (Get the Tom Kha Coconut soup)!

If someone had 24 hours in Long Beach, what Itinerary would you give them?


Fried Green Tomato Benedict. Photo Courtesy of The Attic

Pick up Coffee at Steelhead or Viento y Agua.Salud Juices on 4th street; breakfast at The Attic or Federal Bar for brunch; The Aquarium of the Pacific or a stroll through the Japanese Gardens at CSULB, Fingerprints for some music shopping — so much of our youth was spent in Fingerprints learning about new music, the staff is really friendly and they always have great recommendations — shopping at Retro Row for boutique and vintage stores, like Native Sol, La Bomba, From the Moon, and Goldie’s; drinks at the Observation Bar at Queen Mary. It’s a time relic, but you also get a beautiful view of LB from the ship.

What are some of your favorite artists to come out of LB?
Free Moral Agents. Rudy De Anda; we all started playing backyards at house shows, and it’s been cool seeing him develop as an artist and seeing all his successes. Rudy’s always got a great band with his solo stuff and Wild Pack of Canaries. King Kang and Sex Money Power.

What are some of the underrated landmarks and buildings in Long Beach?


Photo by Douglas S. Santo for First Congregational Church

MB: First Congregational Church in downtown Long Beach. It’s over 100 years old now and the church is currently applying to be a historical landmark. They have a beautiful organ and amazing stained glass. It’s beautiful inside and out.

How do you feel about playing the inaugural MTG fest?
MC: At first, I thought “you wanna book us?” There are only a few local bands (including us) in the lineup, and most are rock bands, so I’m glad we can be there to represent another side of Long Beach.
MB: Because Long Beach is in the middle of OC and LA, touring musicians don’t really stop by Long Beach. So, it’s really great that the city is drawing more people through this festival.

Joining the trio on stage at their Music Taste Good Performance will be Ben Florio (Piano), Felipe Guzman (Drum) and bassist Dustin Moore (Mapei/NAS).

Tickets to Music Tastes Good (September 23-25) are now on sale at mtglb.com. You can hear Bootleg Orchestra live on Dublab Radio August 29 from 12pm - 2pm PST. - Culture Collide


"Premiere: Bootleg Orchestra, ‘So Called Love’"

Bootleg Orchestra are a genre-bending, activism-minded, simpatico-spreading quintet from Long Beach. Or, as the band’s bio suggests, they are the answer to the question: What happens when some Berklee College of Music grads get together with LBC natives in one of the country’s most diverse cities? The band is fronted by three female vocalists, co-founders Menchie Caliboso (who also produces) and Vanessa Acosta (who also plays trumpet), along with Marley Rae. Along with drummer Felipe Guzman Martinez, pianist Benjamin Florio and bassist Dustin Moore, Bootleg Orchestra debuted with an EP in 2015, and this summer, just prior to their appearance at Long Beach’s Music Tastes Good festival, the followed up with the single “In Control.” Their new single “So Called Love” puts aside for a second the Bootleg Orchestra’s principal themes of hope and social justice in favor of a good ol’ love song — one, they say, is “about breaking away from illusions about love.” Jazzy and soulful and punctuated by Luciana’s mournful horn, it’s almost silky-smooth enough to get rid of heartbreak’s sour aftertaste. - Kevin Bronson


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

Photos

Bio

What happens when you put together natives of Long Beach, one of the nation’s most diverse cities, and graduates of Berklee College of Music, a world-renowned school for contemporary music? You get the elusive sounds of Bootleg Orchestra, which is fronted by three women - Menchie Caliboso (producer/guitarist/co-founder), Vanessa Acosta (vocalist/trumpet/co-founder), and Marley Balin (vocalist). The diverse trio of women create soul, electronica, and jazz-inspired music that reflect their lived experiences as women, people of color, and activists. As firm believers that music is a tool to reflect society and promote social change, the women of Bootleg Orchestra make an effort to create palpable sounds for a wide audience and with messages of hope, social justice, and the occasional love song. The sounds of  Menchie’s soulful bedroom beats, Vanessa’s militant vocals, Marley’s soothing vocals are elevated by their rhythm section -  drummer Felipe Guzman Martinez, pianist Benjamin Florio, and bassist Dustin Moore (Nas/Alina Baraz).

Since the release of their debut EP in 2015, Bootleg Orchestra has already earned spots on bills such as the Music Tastes Good Festival (Sylvan Esso, Warpaint, De La Soul), Village Fest (Talib Kweli, Pharcyde, Murs), Long Beach Zine Fest (Avi Buffalo), and more. 

In early August, Bootleg Orchestra premiered their single “In Control”, a song about self-determination, on Culture Collide. Following this release is their single “So Called Love”, a song about breaking away from illusions about love, which streamed exclusively on BuzzBands LA. After all, love and heartbreak is part of their lived experience.

Band Members