MEZKLAH
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MEZKLAH

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MEZKLAH’S SONG “FOGATA�
TO APPEAR IN FORTHCOMING CRIME DRAMA
“PRIDE AND GLORY�
IN THEATERS OCTOBER 24

Movie premiere to coincide with release of band’s new EP
“Bestia Sonika�

Alternative-Latino band MEZKLAH’s scintillating track “Fogata� will be featured in new film Pride and Glory, starring Edward Norton, Colin Farrell and Jon Voight, in theaters October 24. The cumbia-infused dance track will also appear in a 2008 update on Mezklah’s upcoming genre-blending EP Bestia Sonika, also due next month, with a promo date on November 7 at Tangier in Los Angeles.

Pride and Glory is a crime drama centered around character Ray Tierney, played by Norton, a member of a multi-generational Irish-American police family in New York City. When he investigates a case that involves his brother-in-law Jimmy Egan (Farrell), Tierney has to choose between his loyalty to his family and his loyalty to the NYPD. The film is cowritten and directed by Gavin O’Connor (Miracle).

Mezklah’s new four-track EP Bestia Sonika is also slated for an October release. This EP showcases the band's enhanced sound with tinges of dub-reggae style production and exhilarating genre-blending, with strains of cumbia, reggae, hip-hop and rock. Guitarist Greg Hernandez says, "We've always blended the organic side and the electronic side in our music, but now, with the new members, we feel free to go in a completely organic direction if we want to." The disc was produced by Cesar Mejia (Brian Eno, Herbie Hancock) at Shelter Staff Studios in Los Angeles.

Mezklah has an international reputation as one of the few groups making a case that “there's more to Latin music than those endless mariachis in cheesy sombreros that infest Sabado Gigante,� (Ink 19 Magazine) with notable critical acclaim for their debut album SpiderMonkey. They recently completed yet another round of globe-trotting, playing gigs in Oaxaca, Mexico and the Tokyo Music Festival along the way. During their travels, the band has played to a crowd of 20,000 at Mexico City's La Feria del Libro festival, played the first ever rock en español concert in Memphis, Tennessee and opened for such acts as Ozomatli, Kinky, Maldita Vencidad and Antibalas.
www.mezklah.com

www.myspace.com/mezklah

www.prideandglorymovie.com

Upcoming dates:

October 25 The Uptown, Oakland, CA
November 1 6th Street Bridge, Festival De La Gente, Los Angeles, CA
November 7 Tangier, Los Angeles, CA



PUBLICITY CONTACT TO REQUEST CDS, INTERVIEWS, ETC,
GORGEOUS PR, INC. / 323 782 9000 / VERSA MANOS, VERSA@GORGEOUSPR.COM
- GORGEOUS P.R.


Santo mierda. Here we have a fiery four-course serving of Spanish-spiced harmony that flows with a genuinely ethnic soul. This L.A.-based ensemble hustle out spicy jams laden with Spanish-to-English serenading and peppery instrumentation. A trance-like aura is spun into effect from the moment this EP sparks into motion, with abundant horns and steady tribal percussion abound. I know salsa dancing like Cantonese, but I'm willing to venture that Mezklah's blend of authentic south-of-the-border styles would make for some fairly intense ass-shaking. And although I can comprehend nary a single word of this record's Spanish-heavy lyricism (I'm pretty sure I caught "enchilada" in there somewhere), it remains a welcome temporary departure from my indie-rock disc arsenal. Allow Mezklah to throw a jalapeno into your system. - Skratch Magazine


After eight years of struggling to make it as a musician — years of searching for new sounds, sloughing off self-doubts, overcoming conflicts with collaborators and resisting pressure from parents and in-laws "to get a real job" — singer Angel Garcia recently had a vision of his mission while on a beach in Yucatan.

Garcia, co-founder of the lauded unsigned alt-Latino duo named Mezklah, says he dropped LSD near the Maya ruins of Tulum and while hallucinating "got a sense of the permeability of the cosmos." He recalls perceiving the subconscious hand of ancient cultures — Egyptian, Chinese, Arabic — influencing the bold designs he paints on his lean and lizard-like body before performances. He noticed the odd assortment of people passing by — soldiers, European tourists, "trippy characters" — that led to a realization about the interconnectedness of the world.

"I could see it so clearly," says Garcia, the songwriting half of the duo with guitarist Greg Hernandez. "I saw that we weren't only representing the Latin community, but we were representing the whole world community, in a sense. And I felt this huge responsibility to everybody. In my time here on Earth, I felt like I need to let this out. I felt I had something special, a certain way of combining music. This is my strength. This is my purpose in life."

Mezklah, which performs Sunday in a benefit for a collective of farming families in South-Central L.A., has started to gain attention from the music business with its "tribal electronica," a seemingly incongruous confluence of reggae, trip-hop, drums-and-bass, cumbia and hip-hop. Earlier this year, the group rose above scores of competitors to win an annual battle of the bands in Southern California's buzzing rock en español scene.

The originality and passion of these sons of immigrants also won over Versa Manos, a publicist who volunteered to represent the group pro bono after seeing it perform in 2003. Manos, whose Gorgeous PR handles Tupac Shakur's estate and other corporate entertainment clients, communicated her excitement about the band to Nic Harcourt, host of KCRW's "Morning Becomes Eclectic," who decided to air tracks from Mezklah's self-released CD, "SpyderMonkey."

It's one of the rare times a local Latino band has made it on Harcourt's cutting-edge show, which occasionally spotlights the best of Latin alternative music, mostly from other countries.

"No matter what it is that I play, from L.A. or New York or England or Mexico or France or whatever, it has to grab me as being a little different and standing out from the pack," said Harcourt, who auditions 400 CDs per week. "So it's got to be something that grabs you pretty quickly, and there was something about that [Mezklah] sound."

Garcia, 32, and Hernandez, 33, have been developing that sound since they met in 1997, introduced by a mutual friend from the Jazz Bakery, where Garcia worked as a server in the cafe. They were delighted to find each other, since neither had been able to click with other musicians.



Originally, they had doubts about performing as a duo in a land of bands. But being compact and using tracks stored on an iPod for musical backing instead of instruments gave them the benefit of mobility. That served them well on exploratory tours through Mexico, where they would stop to play at whatever bar or cantina would give them the stage.

They cite influences from the Doors and the Clash to Oingo Boingo, Bob Marley and Nirvana, yet name no Latino artists. That music — the rancheras they grew up with — runs in their blood, they say.

Garcia says he didn't start creating music until he was 18 and didn't compose in Spanish until he started Mezklah, a deliberate misspelling of mezcla, the Spanish word for "mixture." That's hard to believe considering the quality of his poetic and onomatopoeic lyrics, reinforced by melodic lines that shift from a skittish hip-hop cadence to a smooth and lyrical sway with Caribbean overtones.

Though its sound sets it apart, Mezklah also is part of a loosely knit community of L.A. Chicano/Latino bands that combine art with activism. The duo helped organize Sunday's benefit for the Alameda Community Garden, a 14-acre farm site in an industrial area south of downtown that is threatened by proposed development. Mezklah will be joined by Quinto Sol, Domingo Siete and Fosforo in a free concert to support the mostly Latino, low-income families who grow corn, cactus and other crops on this urban oasis.

They sat for an interview earlier this week at a picnic table on the farm, discussing their music and mystical pastiche of philosophies while a small group of men played dominos at a table nearby. Once in the midst of the farmland, the city seems to vanish. The only urban intrusion is the sound of honking cars, the clanging of a railroad crossing and the roar of frequent freight trains thundering down the tracks.

Garcia and Hernandez lament that they often get pigeonholed - Los Angeles Times


Once again delving into the community-based music and art scene of the near-north, Los Angeles, La Prensa San Diego spoke to Greg Hernandez of the progressive alt-rock duo known as Mezklah.

Similar to other Los Angeles-based Latino groups Slowrider, Quinto Sol, and Very Be Careful, to mention but a few, Mezklah seeks to raise awareness of the realities facing its extended community with its music and performance art approach to live appearances which have taken the group on tours throughout the U.S., Mexico, and most recently, Europe.

While the group got it’s start making itself known strictly within the confines of community centers and neighborhood events, the duo has recently started hitting the Los Angeles club scene, “We’re originally a grass roots arts music/expression group with a definite theatrical aspect to us,” said Hernandez. “We started out in east L.A. performing mostly at community gatherings, but lately we’ve been getting more touch with the smaller club scene within LA,” added Hernandez, who serves as the duo’s guitarist.

True to its name, the group’s music fuses of a variety of both modern and traditional sounds as well as the Spanish and English languages. Latin beats and electronic drum loops are blended with fuzz guitar and vocals delivered either seductively or belted out with the maximum intensity to deliver the band’s messages heavy on diversity, acceptance and unity.

The group’s debut CD, an independent release, was recorded and produced by Eric Alatan and co-produced by Angel Garcia, Hernandez’s partner in art. Alatan’s background in London’s underground rave scene provided an expertise in the techno, jungle, and drum n’ bass genres dominant in that dance-oriented sub-culture.

With Hernandez’s early influences rooted in the early days of punk rock, especially in the scene’s east coast brand of do-it-yourself anti-establishment expressionism, Alatan blended his own musical tastes and tendencies with Garcia’s inclination toward guitar-driven rock and Hernandez’s punk attitude to near-perfection. “He’d had a lot of experience back in London and he really just did an amazing job recording us,” said Hernandez.

It is not difficult to imagine the performance art aspect of the band while listening to the group’s recorded music. Songs, with colorful lyrics and an inspired delivery create a reaction within the listener. “We want to get the audience involved when we perform, said Hernandez.


In addition to the music and theatrical aspect of the group is added Garcia’s painting and drawing. “His designs create a sense of theatrical performance. Expressing art work on stage together with movement with music is our way of expressing the community’s overall movement,” said Hernandez.

Mezklah has been directly involved with supportive efforts of the indigenous-based Zapatista rebellion in Mexico and even efforts to aid some of Tijuana’s most needy colonias. The band appears Friday night in Tijuana and on Saturday at U.C.S.D.’s Che Café along with San Francisco’s Fuga. For more information, please call 858-534-2311.

- LaPrensa San Diego


Based in Los Angeles, Mezklah take Latin music to a new level, incorporating elements of hip-hop, trip-hop, reggae, rock and funk into a daring musical brew. That’s a appropriate; after all, their name is derived from the Spanish word mezcla, which means “a mix.”

Formed around the dual talents of singer/songwriter Angel Garcia and guitarist Greg Hernandez, Mezklah defy stereotypes through a kinetic combination that’s edgy, exhilarating and solidly in sync with today’s dance tastes.

Despite the fact that most of the songs are sung in Spanish, Mezklah’s agitated approach is established early on via the opening track, “Spider Monkey.” A harsh, snarling musical assault, it’s fueled by pure punk venom and its uncontained energy. The intensity dissipated with the ensuing efforts, but the frenzied rhythms still maintain a fairly consistent groove.

The reggae-infused “Maldita” and “Ojo de Agua” provide a tropical flourish, and the bass and drum beats propelling “Red Mud” and “Quiero Cocido” maintain the tempo at a fevered pitch. The only real respite comes with “Passion in the Flesh,” a trippy, psychedelic soiree littered with cosmic clutter,

This cross-cultural pollination may seem baffling at first, especially to those whose tastes may be ethnically challenged. As the set progresses, however, the music starts to mesh into a more coherent whole. Once it does, this Spider Monkey may lure you into its lair.

- Lee Zimmerman
- Goldmine Magazine


Discography

SpiderMonkey LP (Escuchalo Records, 2004)
Bestia Sonika EP (Mayequa Music, 2008)

Photos

Bio

Some bands naturally defy any narrow classification – and Los Angeles band MEZKLAH, whose music has been called “a very intelligent mixture of traditional Latin music, alternative rock, jungle, reggae, ska, dub, and drum-and-bass “ (Indie Music Stop) manage to do just that – all the while presenting a convincing case to listeners that “there's more to Latin music than those endless mariachis in cheesy sombreros that infest Sabado Gigante.” (Ink 19 Magazine) Now recording a new EP, Bestia Zonika, the acclaimed group, hailed as “one of L.A.’s most powerful and promising alt-Latino bands” by the Los Angeles Times, is ready to hit another creative peak with an expanded lineup.

MEZKLAH has already toured internationally, hitting Latin America, Europe, Japan and North America in support of their critically-acclaimed debut album SpiderMonkey. During their travels, the band played to a crowd of 20,000 at Mexico City’s La Feria del Libro festival and played the first ever rock en español concert in Memphis, Tennessee. They have opened for such acts as Ozomatli, Kinky, Maldita Vencidad and Antibalas, and gained a fan in Ry Cooder, who personally approached the group to record a track for a future compilation of different genres of Los Angeles music. Recently, the band’s “Fogata” was featured in acclaimed crime drama Pride and Glory, starring Edward Norton and Colin Farrell.

MEZKLAH began as a two-man team of Angel Garcia (vocals, electronics) and Greg Hernandez (guitar). The two met in the late 90s, and soon thereafter, began a working relationship – “a mission, if you will,” says Hernandez – that involved daily morning telephone calls, a constant exchange of ideas and a prodigious songwriting rate. Angel and Greg hooked up with producer Eric Alatan, who gave them the tools and the studio time to develop a new style of music, a strange brew that combined urban trip-hop, traditional cumbia and the alternative-rock of Bauhaus and Jane’s Addiction, all with universal lyrical messages atop this musical fusion. “We were interested in expressing a world beat through electronica,” explains Greg. The results of that initial expression ended up on SpiderMonkey, which was made available on Escuchalo records.

Live performances at the time featured Angel and Greg backed up by pre-recorded beats, each of them covered in hand-painted tribal illustrations, courtesy of Angel. Says Garcia, “I think there’s a basic tribal nature that lives is in our blood. When I am body-painting, it is not just a meditative process I go through before performing – it is a reminder that we are just a part of something that existed long before us.”
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Mezklah performances became a rare theatrical spectacle, with both body-painted members slithering, dancing and gyrating to the tribal pulse of their music, with nary a rhythm section in view – until now.

This latest chapter in MEZKLAH’s history involves a totally new lineup: recently, Mezklah’s founding members were joined by bassist/keyboardist/trumpeter Juan-Carlos Ramirez and Stoic Frame drummer Matias Pizarro to round out the group. “It’s both frightening and exhilarating to have the band move in this new direction,” says Garcia, “but it’s great having the bass and drums in the studio and onstage at our live shows. The sound is amazing, and we’re working with new material all the time.”

“I was a huge fan of Mezklah when I toured with them with my band La Afixión, and I encouraged them to get a band together,” Ramirez says. “It’s been great having new challenges in the band, learning how to play keyboards and synthesizer – I’ve only been a bass player in the past.”

Bestia Zonika epitomizes Mezklah’s new development perfectly, showcasing the band’s enhanced sound with tinges of dub reggae production. The song “Toda Poderosa” employs space echo guitar effects, a one-drop rhythm reminiscent of Bob Marley, and Garcia’s half-sung, half-rapped vocals – which continually return to the tune’s joyous refrain, “El vuelo ya llegó.” (“The flight already arrived”) Garcia acknowledges the song is about “the empowerment of women, which is really the theme of the entire record. It’s meant to encourage women to take charge as the strong figures they already are, worldwide.”

The EP’s title track, “Bestia,” which Hernandez refers to as “the beast,” embraces a more aggressive tone, featuring a delicately spacey, atmospheric backing track, with Greg vamping on a familiar cumbia riff over Pizarro drumming in reaction to a pumping programmed beat. Garcia’s lyrics paint a picture of mystical imagery, involving celestial prophets, whales, and an invitation “a bailar! A bailar!” (To dance!)

Mezklah also transformed Reggaeton-infused SpiderMonkey track “Chango Araña” into a traditional cumbia dance number. Of the decision to rework the song, Greg says, “We’ve always blended the organic and the traditional in our music, but now, with the new members, we feel free to go in a completely organic di