Hey Elsten
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Hey Elsten

Hialeah, Florida, United States | SELF

Hialeah, Florida, United States | SELF
Band Americana Singer/Songwriter




"Best Latin Singer in Miami - 2011 Best Of"

It can be hard keeping up with so many fulano de tals in the music biz. They show up, play a couple of local venues, and head off to more lucrative shores before you get a chance to memorize their names. Not so for the actual Fulano de Tal. The '90s rock en español band did the hometown proud when it became one of the first U.S.-based groups in the genre to sign a major-label deal. And the frontman — a New York City-bred, Miami-based Cuban-American — instantly went from fulano to Elsten Torres when he began penning songs for the likes of Julio Iglesias Jr. and Alejandra Guzmán, and then scored a Grammy nomination for an indie-distributed solo release, Individual. Nowadays, you can catch him on local stages performing bilingual folk music to the tunes of acoustic guitars and violin. The name of the group is Hey Elsten. You might want to memorize it. - New Times


"Borders" (Hey Elsten) - Indie - 2011
“Individual” – (Fulano/Elsten Torres) – FM Records -2006
“Etc.” – (Fulano) – Radio Vox/DLN - 2000
“Normal” – (Fulano De Tal) – BMG/RCA - 1997
“Revolucion” (Fulano De Tal) – Maxi – single – Radio Vox Records -1995
“Ataque” (Rebelde Sin Causa) – Discos Gas/Mexico - 1992



It takes just seconds for ears to bend toward the haunting yet melodic Americana sound of HEY ELSTEN’S EP Borders. On “I’ll be Gone,” the moodiest track, singer-songwriter Elsten Torres´ folk voice swells over an emotive guitar arpeggio as he proclaims “you’re gonna love me again when I’m gone.”
The tough luck expressed in that number is a major gain for the public. Throughout most of the six-song collection, Torres uses that down-home tone to transport listeners to all sorts of emotional territory. For example, he waltzes them through hopeful visions of love on “Girl,” and lightly strums his way through “Up to Me” in which he shares his decision to unapologetically leave the past behind.
“I feel vibrant again. I feel gung ho about this new project, and I’m really happy to be out there again,” Torres recently reflected.
Again? Yes, again. Borders´ one Spanish-language track, “Ella,” hints at his past music recording career. The veteran singer-songwriter, a Cuban-American who was born in Havana and raised in New York City, already has a domestic and international fan base. He began in the 1990s by founding the alternative rock outfit Fulano de Tal, the Spanish term for John Doe. Fulano de Tal was the first Spanish-language rock band in the United States to pen a major recording deal.
Signed to BMG/RCA, Fulano de Tal made three albums, including Revolucion (1995), Normal (1997) and Etc. (1999) and toured the United States and Latin America Its trendsetting members caught the attention of other Latin artists hoping to broaden their musical horizons. In 2000, two members left Fulano de Tal to join Colombian pop singer Shakira´s band and Torres went on to write songs for other major artists including Ricky Martin, Julio Iglesias Jr., Aleks Syntek, Obie Bermudez, Luis Fonsi, Ednita Nazario, Sandy & Junior, and Jennifer Peña. In fact, Bermudez’s interpretation of Torres song “Todo El Año” became a number one hit on the Billboard Charts. Torres also wrote and performed with country music artists John Rich of Big & Rich and Michael Peterson, as well as with retro pop rocker Marshall Crenshaw.
“I’m very proud of what I’ve done, but now I feel like I’m in a moment in my life where this is the time to embrace the part of me that is the bigger part of me -- that is being an American,” noted Torres.
Coming back to a more integral sense of self was a process. In 2006, Torres broke out as an independent artist with the Grammy-nominated album Individual, a collection of rock, pop, electronic, and world music sung in Spanish and English. The work took him even farther afield, performing in Canada, United Kingdom, Spain, Greece, and the Czech Republic.
“I wanted to see myself in a different light. I wanted to get more into the Anglo side while still recognizing my Latin side because I can never deny that part. It has brought me up to here, to this new project that I’m doing called Borders…writing more in English and tapping more into my emotions,” explained Torres.
That’s exactly the spirit of Torres’ upcoming Hey Elsten Borders tour which will target fans of Americana music.
"Americana or roots music speaks to all races and ethnicity in the USA. Music that stems from the earth's soil has no particular language. Its a universal feeling and Latins as well as anyone else can feel the pulse of this genre's honesty.”
You might say Torres is moving toward a post-ethnic identity in an increasingly post-racial America.
“I left Cuba when I was a year and a half old, so I’m really more from New York than I am from Cuba,” the Miami transplant reflected.
Sure, from his childhood home in Manhattan’s Washington Heights neighborhood, Torres suckled on classic Latin artists such as Beny More, Arsenio Rodriquez, Silvio Rodriquez, Celia Cruz, Juan Luis Guerra, and Ruben Blades. But like most Gen X musicians, he also imbibed large doses of The Beatles, Tom Waits, Tom Petty, Bob Marley, Paul Simon, Sam Cooke, Roy Orbison, David Gray, Coldplay, Nine Inch Nails, and Elvis Costello. He also had a certain fascination for American crooners such as Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley.
“Really honest songwriting, an open heart musically…that’s the influence I get from so many of the songwriters I admire,” Torres concluded.
With the HEY ELSTEN Borders EP, his newer, broader audience, is sure to say the same about him.