Wait. Think. Fast.
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Wait. Think. Fast.

Los Angeles, California, United States | INDIE

Los Angeles, California, United States | INDIE
Band Alternative Rock


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"Wait. Think. Fast. (Live at the El Rey Review)"

...Wait. Think. Fast., the first band to take the stage, is a really cool Los Angeles band. Singer-pianist Jacqueline Santillan has a captivating voice, and I loved that the songs were in both English and Spanish. I appreciated the dimension and diversity it added. Jacqueline had a really great stage presence too. She would scrunch up her face with emotion and make sweeping arm movements reaching out towards the crowd as if to draw us into her. The last song that they played especially stood out to me. It reminded me of a ’50s girl group ballad, but way more vivid and haunting and not kitschy.... - LA Music Blog

"Wait. Think. Fast.: Luces del Sur"

by Gene Armstrong

This group from the Echo Park area of Los Angeles finds common ground between lovely, jangly alternative pop-rock and modern Americana—the opening tune "Si Es Por Amor" touches on both—while Argentine-born singer and pianist Jacqueline Santillan alternates effortlessly between Spanish and English. After two EPs, this is the project's full-length debut, and it's a welcome effort.

Luces del Sur was produced by Tucson's Craig Schumacher at his world-famous Wavelab Studio. Schumacher recorded the album too, with right-hand man Chris Shultz; Calexico member Jacob Valenzuela sits in on trumpet for one tune. Santillan writes the tunes with Matthew Beighley, who provides vocals, guitar, charango, keyboards and percussion. This excellent, sometimes luminous album draws on musical traditions both culture-specific and universal.

How else do you explain the psychedelic blues garage stomp of "Covina Park," the billowing, melancholy pop of "Winter Lights" or the expansive neo-noir Western mood of "Trouble"? Then there's the gorgeous "Leymah Contra los Diablos," which with its dramatic arrangement will crowd your senses with guitar noise, a vaguely spaghetti-Western feel and the multitracked voices of Santillan and guest singer Ceci Bastida.

The music sometimes shows Santillan's Latin influences, such as on the Andean-sounding "Jornaleras," and she sings like an angel throughout. Perhaps her best performance comes during "Bad Night," a slow waltz that proves she can belt out a tortured torch song as well as Neko Case. When she sings, "Since you've been away, I'm only half of me," you believe it. - Tucson Weekly

"Wait. Think. Fast. - show review"

The city of Angels, with all its vertical buildings and spread out neighborhoods, has many different accents when it comes to music. And so it’s a nice change when a band encompasses more than one genre: Wait.Think.Fast. is a bluesy/indie local band, who could play anywhere in the world and manage to rile up some applause. At The Echo, they bulldozed the crowd with material from their newest LP Luces Del Sur, which is what Calexico would sound like if Linda Ronstadt fronted that band. Lead singer Jacqueline Santillan and guitarist Matthew Beighley are actually at the helm, with drummer Tom King – there’s a revolving door for visiting artists, and yes, even a member from Calexico have lent a hand.

Santillan’s voice on album is as crisp as it is sultry. Live she has a remarkably honest sound, full of the aches and the bravado necessary to front a group as diverse as Wait.Think.Fast. When she belted out the words to "Leymah Contra Los Diablos" The Echo was witness to some fine Spanish vocal work – then Latin Grammy nominated Ceci Bastida jumped from the audience to the stage and double wowed the audience. Wait.Think.Fast. were releasing their album into the wild that night and they closed with “Bad Night” which is an incredibly melancholy piece that peaks and valleys just as much with the music as it does with our emotions. The highlight of the night for me was their song "Trouble," a nuanced work that would fit perfectly in a David Lynch film. Wait.Think.Fast. have their work cut out for them, but their set, their energy, and their perseverance are enough to make even Siddhartha bob his head to the beat.

Wait. Think. Fast. performed @ the Echo 09-07-10 - SmashedChair.com

"Wait. Think. Fast."

Siddhartha would love California – most importantly, the chaparral. The dense vegetation that catches fire every year, because even though it’s all destroyed, the ground becomes rich with sulfur and life springs eternal.

Herman Hesse had his Siddhartha view the world as so: if you have enough time to wait, to think and to fast, then most solutions will become obvious.

And so Wait. Think. Fast. the band, not the mantra, are now releasing their first LP Luces Del Sur, which encompasses all the romantic, melancholy expressions of bluesy vocals, meshing with the aesthetic of indie rock and finally careening back to an empty street in the middle of the night. Singer/keyboardist Jacqueline Santillan has a smoky voice at her arsenal, with her husband Matthew Beighley and drummer Thomas King also in the band. There are moments when the modern takes over and things get pop-like and fun, (Si Es Por Amor) there are other times when Argentinean born Santillan sings in Spanish, her intonations confessional and quick (Leymah Contra Los Diablos).

The chaparral in Los Angeles is so dense and we’ve all become accustomed to the orange glow that comes with the fire season – On their 2009 EP, Vuelve Al Mar, Wait. Think. Fast. have a track titled “Cien Fuegos” and the chorus goes:

“Este lugar me quiere enloquecer, me quiere enloquecer/ Por lo visto”

Translation -

“This place wants me crazy, I want to be crazy/ Apparently” and so the only solution, Siddhartha would say, well, you know that already.

Wait. Think. Fast. record release show at the echo, Tuesday, 9.7.10 with Light FM, Marvelous Toy and Future Ghost.
- SmashedChair.com

"Wait. Think. Fast. “Trouble”"

Sampling one track from a band can sometimes be deceptive. Take “Trouble,” by the Los Angeles based husband and wife team Wait. Think. Fast. Based on this single song, one could be forgiven for assuming that the combo is an alt-country band, and a good one at that. However, in reality it’s fairly unrepresentative of the band’s work on the whole, which generally leans towards combining post-punk with Latin music, specifically the sounds of South America.
“Trouble,” then, is a great argument for eclecticism. Matthew Beighley and Jacqueline Santillan slide effortlessly into the type of high and lonesome Tex-Mex that Calexico specializes in. In fact, it’s not hard to mentally insert frequent Calexico collaborator Neko Case’s vocals in place of Santillan’s, and the fact that this imagined result compares very favorably to actual Case originals speaks volumes for Wait. Think. Fast.’s talent.
While other tracks on Luces del Sur, the second album by Wait. Think. Fast., show that the couple is incorporating more southwestern influences into their work, “Trouble” is the furthest they’ve gone in that direction so far. Based on the results, it’s a rewarding direction for them and one that they will hopefully explore even further on future releases. - One Track Mind

"Tonight: Wait. Think. Fast."

As it might be with a lot of husband-and-wife musical collaborators who populate our fair city (the Submarines and the Weepies come to mind), it must be tough being the family cat when the creative juices are flowing in the Matthew Beighley/Jacqueline Santillan household.

Beighley and Santillan are the principals in Wait. Think. Fast., the Echo Park quartet that makes moody dreampop that oscillates between indie-rock and Latin influences.

Beighley, a self-taught multi-instrumentalist, composes most of the music; Santillan contributes the melody lines and lyrics. He admits to being a rather plodding worker. "I tend to agonize over things," he says, "and then she comes in and has flashes of inspiration. I'll work on something for five hours, and she'll overhear it, come in and in an instant have a finished melody. ... Maybe I'm jealous of her in many ways."

"He shouldn't be jealous," Santillan says, playing the good spouse as well as the good lead singer, "because he sets up a perfect song for me to write something to."

Their latest batch of songs, Luces Del Sur, comes out today, and Wait. Think. Fast. celebrates with a show tonight at the Echo featuring support from Light FM, Marvelous Toy and Future Ghost.

Elsewhere: Funeral Party, the East L.A. kids dance-punk kids who recently made NME's list of 2010's top 50 best new bands, kick off a residency at the Bootleg Theater. ... U.K. singer-songwriter David Gray plays the first of two nights at the Greek Theatre behind the release of his ninth album, Foundling. (Ray LaMontagne opens). ... And Philly glam-poppers Free Energy headline the Viper Room.

Also: Interpol's stint at Space 15 Twenty (wristbands distributed with new album purchase at some locales); Crooked Fingers (Eric Bachmann of Archers of Loaf) at Spaceland; Jason Reeves and Brendan James at the Mint; Elisabeth at the Troubadour; Luke Doucet and Girlyman at the Hotel Cafe; J. Irvin Dally at the Silverlake Lounge; A Pretty Mess at the Redwood Bar; Mestizo at Echo Curio; Kisses at Cinespace; and Little Teeth's free in-store at Origami Vinyl. - LA Weekly

"Interview with Matthew Beighley of Wait. Think. Fast."

Immersed in the East-side indie rock scene and the Latino hipster scene of LA, Wait. Think. Fast.’s surroundings seem to describe their music to the note. Luces Del Sur, the group’s recently released second album, es una mixtura of pop music with English and Spanish vocals, and has subsequently been featured on radio stations in both Mexico and LA’s own KROQ.

Following the release of their new album, LA Music Blog recently talked to Wait. Think. Fast.’s guitarist, producer, and vocalist Matthew Beighley about how the band got its start, their upcoming plans, and the benefits of being unsigned.

How did Wait. Think. Fast. get its start?

Well, it’s kind of funny because I’m in the band with my wife, of course. We were actually not married or even engaged at the time; we were boyfriend and girlfriend and living together and we refused to do music together. We just thought of all the things to do together that that would just be insane and really complicate our relationship. So we were actually in different groups.

Inevitably just from living together, she would hear me working on stuff and kind of pop in the room and start humming, and I would begrudgingly have to accept the fact that what she was singing was actually really good. It kind of just happened naturally. We defied it and did not want to do it, but we ended up just starting to write songs together, back in 2007 and then got the band together.

Since you write songs in Spanish and English, how do you choose which songs to do in which language?

I wrote all the music on the new record. As I’m working on stuff Jacqueline comes in and listens; it’s a very natural process. She just starts almost making up something on the spot, and I think it’s kind of something from her subconscious, something that just kind of calls out to her and says, you know, “Spanish feels very natural here.”

She’s perfectly bilingual. She was raised in Argentina until she moved to the United States when she was four. Her Spanish is perfect and her English is perfect and she still dreams in both languages. Both of those languages are very natural for her, so it’s almost a mystery.

I’ll write something and assume maybe because it has a tango-ish feel and is in 3/4 that she’s going to listen to it and want to sing in Spanish. Then she’ll surprise me and English will come out and it will just kind of fit. There’s something cool about all of it, and I think it’s neat.

Where does the band draw its influences?

Jacqueline really is enamored with the Smiths and Morrissey, and she loves Patty Smyth as well. I really like film music. I listen to a lot of film music, like Ennio Morricone and stuff like that, so it’s kind of varied. I really love the Beach Boys and Wilco. Jacqueline of course, growing up in Argentina, has a whole slew of stuff that she listens to around the house like Astor Piazzolla, one of the great tango composers and someone that she grew up with. I think those kinds of melodies enter into what she does.

As one of the main songwriters, how would you describe the writing process for the band?

I just come up with stuff all the time and demo it. I’m an editor; that’s my day job. When I write songs I always imagine that they’re songs for films that just haven’t been made yet. I really like to think of music like that. Jacqueline just listens to stuff and I guess if it calls to her, then those are the ones we go forward with as a band. Tom King, our drummer, is very instrumental and a good listener as a drummer, so he’s good at giving you the feel. At that point it becomes a lot more collaborative.

So it starts with one piece of the song and just slowly builds as it goes along?

Exactly and people come into the mix. Sean Stentz, our bassist, also has a good rock and roll sensibility so sometimes he kind of pushes things and makes them drive a lot harder than they normally would. It starts with me, but as the process goes on, it just gets pushed and pushed in a better and better direction. I think we have a nice chemistry.

Luces Del Sur was just released September 10th. What differences do you see between this album and the debut EP?

I think everything got a little bolder for this album. I remember when we finished the last EP, I was really proud of it, but listening to it after months and playing it live, our confidence had grown. I said, “You know what, no matter what we do next time, let’s just go out and paint in bigger, bolder brush strokes, take more chances, and sing more in Spanish if that’s what we feel like.”

The beautiful thing about not being on a label, which we’re not right now, is that we really only do what we want to do and we only make songs that we want to hear. We don’t have to preview them for anyone in a Hollywood office or any of that crap, so I think that was the thing the second time around like, “Let’s just be more ourselves and just bigger and bolder.” I think we accomplished that and I think the next one will probably be even bigger and bolder. [LAUGHS]

Has being based out of Echo Park helped the band grow as opposed to being based out of Hollywood or other parts of LA?

I think so. We feel pretty at home out here. There are a lot of people doing art, a lot of bands, a lot of photographers and filmmakers. It’s an inspiring place to be. I think when we started this and it occurred to us that we were going to be half in Spanish, half in English, and our songs could be pretty eclectic, we weren’t really sure how we would fit in. If we were playing the Viper Room or something in Hollywood, you don’t really see bands like that out there, but on this side of town, I think that we’ve been more embraced because people are just more open to stuff like that.

Do you feel that there are advantages to being a band based out of LA rather than other places?

To be completely honest with you, sometimes I wonder if it’s a disadvantage. I know most of my favorite bands don’t come from big cities. I was thinking about this just the other day. I think that in Los Angeles there’s so much media, so many bands just constantly vying for people’s attention, that it can be difficult.

I think maybe it takes a while and you have to almost bury your head in your work and just keep on doing it. I’ve lived in LA most of my adult life, so I don’t really know what other scenes are like, but there is a lot of stuff going on here, so it’s competitive to get shows and stuff like that.

What is your favorite LA venue?

I love La Cita. It’s on Hill Street in downtown, and I think it’s one of the oldest bars in LA. It’s has the tiniest stage that’s set up for just like a mariachi band. We’ve always just had really wonderful shows there. The crowd there loves music; they’re very warm and inspired. You can try new songs out there and people would be really great.

The problem with some of the hipster places is you get a lot of people with their arms folded: “I’m in a band, my roommate’s in a band, and everyone I know is in a band.” It’s not jaded, but maybe it’s just too like immersed in the scene and they just forget that music’s supposed to be fun and that it’s cool to just go crazy.

La Cita has this spirit about it that I think is just wonderful. The stage is ridiculously small, so you can’t really move, but there’s just something about that place. I’ve had some of my favorite experiences playing music there.

If you could choose any bands to go on tour with, what would be your dream tour?

I’d have to think about that. I love Wilco, and I think that they’re a template for success in how they’ve stuck around and done things on their own terms, gotten kicked off labels, but still managed to grow their fan base every time. Their fans really love their music, and it’s about the music. It’s not about their videos or about some shocking thing they just did. Probably to me, that’s the greatest template for success, so if we could tour with them and just be in that world with them for a little bit, I’d be thrilled. I probably would faint on a nightly basis, but someone would have to revive me.

What are your favorite local artists?

Ceci Bastida sings on our new record and just got nominated for a Latin Grammy. Her new record is amazing! The Hectors, who create these blissed out, atmospheric tunes. Carla Morrison. Summer Darling has a great new record on Origami vinyl. The Breakups, Marvelous Toy, and Nico Stai are a few others.

What does the band have planned for the rest of 2010?

We have some really good shows coming up. We’re playing the El Rey with Corin Tucker of Sleater-Kinney, which I think we’re all super excited about. We’re doing the Eagle Rock Music Festival on October 2nd.

I think we’ve been really pleased with how the record has been received. It exceeded what we thought was going to happen a little bit. I think we’re all just super excited. We’re definitely going to make music videos, too.

Are there any plans to look for a label or are you waiting for one to come around that feels right? Or do like the ability to be able to be independent and do as you please?

I think for right now, just being completely in control of what we’re doing is really good. A label sometimes can equal more cooks in the kitchen. We’ve managed to grow and just do all this stuff on our own. - LA Music Blog

"Wait. Think. Fast.'s Spanglish"

Eastern religion and indie rock aren’t a common pairing. But when it came to the name of her band, Wait. Think. Fast., Jacqueline Santillan turned to Buddhism, specifically Hermann Hesse’s “Siddhartha,” a book she was given in her mid-20s. (Santillan’s age now is, as she says, “old enough to know, young enough to believe.”) The Argentine-born singer-songwriter was particularly drawn to a well-known excerpt that reads,“I can think. I can wait. I can fast.”

“That line spoke to me. It’s kind of a way of life, a call to simplicity and to being self-aware,” explains Santillan, who isn’t a practicing Buddhist. “I thought, these ideas aren’t the sole providence of the yoga crowd. Indie rockers can be affected, as well.”

It is only one of many characteristics that sets Wait. Think. Fast. apart from your average alternative group. Formed in 2007, the Los Angeles trio — which now consists of drummer Thomas King and Santillan’s husband, Matthew Beighley, on guitar and vocals — put out its first EP, “Vuelve al Mar” (Origami Records), in 2008 to critical acclaim, and earlier this month digitally released its debut album, “Luces del Sur” (AT Records), with the physical release planned for Sept. 7. Both the well-established East Side indie rock and growing Latino hipster scenes have embraced the band’s distinctive sound, which fuses dynamic pop songs with lyrics in Spanish and English.

Early musical influences have played a major role in how Santillan creates her unique sound. When she was four years old, her parents moved their family (Santillan has a younger sister) from Mendoza, Argentina, to Los Angeles’ San Gabriel Valley. She couldn’t speak a word of English when she arrived, but with school starting that fall, her parents became proactive. “They sat me down in front of the television and said, ‘Listen to how they talk.’?” By December, she was completely fluent and was playing piano in school plays.

Music was always important. “My parents listened to a lot of Spanish pop, and in Argentina, everybody worships English [language] rock like The Beatles and also Creedence Clearwater Revival, so I had classic rock influences,” Santillan says.

So it only made sense that Santillan, who majored in piano performance and music composition at California State University Long Beach, wound up forming a band. And though Beighley and King are self-taught musicians who are not fluent in Spanish, together, their chemistry is undeniable. “They’re both really interested in knowing what I’m singing about, so I translate lyrics for them,” she says.

Their seamless melding has paid off. They are a featured artist on iTunes Latino; they’re ranked ninth on the college radio music charts; Los Angeles-based radio stations KROQ and KCRW have been playing various songs from the new album, and the track “Look Alive” was chosen for episodes of “Gossip Girl” and “One Tree Hill.”

Now that the album is complete, Santillan can focus on preparing for their West Coast tour this fall. As with most girls, wardrobe decisions are definitely on her mind.

In particular, Santillan has become known for her gloves: “I love the way they look with a vintage dress,” she says. “[But] I had to retire them for a little bit because I didn’t want people to be like, ‘Oh, there’s the girl with those gloves all the time!’?”
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"Wait. Think. Fast. Luces del Sur"

Straddling the line between spanish speaking artist.... (click link below for full story) - Venus Zine

"Wait.Think.Fast: Esta música poderosa suena muy suave"

Con “Luces del Sur”, el grupo de Echo Park Wait.Think.Fast nos lleva de paseo a parajes sonoros interesantes y ricos en sensaciones. Con este disco producido junto a Craig Schumacher, Matthew Beighley y Jacqueline Santillán hacen de la exploración y el contraste de influencias un campo fértil para el disfrute musical. Aquí nos brindan una serenata con su tema "Trouble" antes del estreno de su disco, que bautizarán oficialmente el próximo 7 de septiembre en The Echo. - Al Borde

"MUSIC: CD REVIEWS Wait. Think. Fast.: Luces del Sur"

No matter the language, good music is good music. The L.A. band Wait. Think. Fast. happens to fall under that particular category of music that’s worth listening to. Packed with beautifully crafted English and Spanish songs and instruments of all sorts, the trio’s latest release, Luces del Sur, is a single bull’s-eye in a game of darts.

There’s a thrill in the lyrics and a quivering passion in Jacqueline Santillan’s heightened vocals. The chopped and changing melodies give each indie pop song a very unique flair, making it possible to hit replay on most of the songs. Every listen will uncover new sounds you might’ve missed the first time around.

It’s a fresh Latin sound that’s more than something you’d listen to while at a coffee shack sipping on a macchiato or drinking 40s at the local bar just down the street. It has SoCal written all over it with hints of a very brightly cultured background.

Tune in to the following few songs sans a Spanish-to-English dictionary and just let music do what it does best: “Si Es Por Amor,” “Look Alive” and “Winter Lights.” - Campus Circle

"Indie Spotlight: Wait.Think.Fast."

At the intersection between two vibrant Los Angeles music communities, the well-entrenched East Side indie rock scene and the burgeoning Latino hipster scene, exists Wait. Think. Fast. A unique hybrid of these two distinct worlds, the band marries sultry pop songs with bilingual vocals, melding two tongues into a singular sound that has been exciting listeners in both English and Spanish since forming in 2007. Having earned critical acclaim and an increasing legion of hometown fans with its 2009 EP, “Vuelve al Mar” (Origami Records), the band decided to take itself out of its comfort zone for its first full-length, Luces del Sur, scheduled for release on September 2. - BMI

"Fresh Beats: Wait.Think.Fast’s Luces del Sur"

by Gloria Renaud

Looking for the next indie gem? Do yourself a favor and pick up Luces del Sur by the group Wait. Think. Fast. By blending haunting vocals in both English and Spanish, along with infectious melodies that are moody and beautifully ethereal, these LA natives have been creating some of the most amazing music since 2007. Not surprisingly, Wait.Think.Fast. has already created a loyal following, all while steadily garnering the attention of music critics in the states and abroad.

Luces del Sur is a delightful collection that’s certain to intrigue curious music lovers. The first track off the album, “Si Es Por Amor,” is one of the most upbeat songs by the band. Pulsating with a steady drum beat and culminating in a force of guitars and harmonies, front woman Jacqueline Santillan recounts the many ways in which passion moves us (perhaps foolishly) through the most hopeless of situations. “Look Alive,” a melodic tune tinged with a distinct electronic flavor, evokes positive feelings of appreciation for that special someone in your life, while “Jornaleras,” a song about a hard day in the life of a female farmhand, takes a completely different direction sonically, adding an Argentinean vibe that is both cool and sophisticated. An instant favorite is “Bad Night,” a tragic love song that showcases Santillan’s intoxicating voice echoing over a melancholy, yet edgy guitar rhythm, proving that sadness hasn’t sounded this good in a very long time.

Luces del Sur is a great combination of indie sensibilities and post-punk roots, reminiscent of Girl in a Coma, Tegan & Sara, and The Smiths. There is nothing flashy or pretentious about Wait.Think.Fast. and that is part of the charm. Luces del Sur showcases excellent beats, well written lyrics, and an amazing group of musicians dedicated to creating an experience that is both profound and unforgettable.
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- NocheLatina.com

"Wait. Think. Fast. Luces del Sur album review"

Wait. Think. Fast’s lead singer/keyboardist, Jacqueline Santillan, once had a fine midnight ride noir-garage band called Central City Transmission who put out an EP, Incommunicado, in 2004 that was one of the more intriguing, if utterly overlooked, records of that year. Sadly that band crumbled, and in 2007, Santillan returned with a new line-up plying a similarly shadowy sound on WTF’s debut EP. Three years later (a veritable lifetime in our age), I had assumed that band sputtered too. But Santillan is back with a full album, and we’ll refrain from the “it was worth the wait” pun since the relative distance in sonic personality and songwriting from that first EP is considerable. Hence the wait was needed it would seem.

With emotional aspirations warmly wrapped in long-dead Southwestern country crooners but a sound sprouted from present day Echo Park, Luces del Sur is nothing if not confidently centered. The first two songs are a perfect reflection of the steam this band has gained. Tasteful scrunchy guitar sounds rub under synth melodies, piano pound and the general swoon of the indie styles of the band’s region without succumbing to de rigueur No Age-ist Pro Tooled scratches—and always with Santillan’s pipes (kind of like Neko Case raised on oozy quesadillas rather than bone-picking fried chicken) leading it out of the end of the indie forest into a more accessible, tuneful thing. Not to mention Santillan sings in Spanish and English, often within the same song, surreally supplying a kind of sexy duet with some long lost partner.

“Leymah Contra Los Diablos” and “Covina Park” have a hint of the Southwest dirt-road rush of mid-80s roots rock a la latter-day X and the Long Ryders. The height of the band’s bordertown barista froth comes on “Jornaleras,” with its quickly strummed acoustic guitar, jarana action and backing vocals yearning towards a past road not taken. On “Bad Night,” Santillan nearly usurps the obvious Neko affection, as she croons, “Since you took off, I’m only idling.” First of all, whomever this cat is who took off ought to be rethinking his plans if the snuggle in her vox and the general dusky mood of the music is any indication of her wooing abilities. Vocally and lyrically, Santillan is not idling. The music, however, does at times. Tempos tend to hover around the same intersection, and (to drag the left coast auto metaphor further) the band might want to make some sudden left turns in the future to keep things interesting. The skittish digital drumming of “Look Alive” may or may not be it. Probably not.

WTF’s Americana persona is less craggy cowboy and more Silverlake vintage store clerk closing up shop on a sad, lonely Wednesday night. Nevertheless, that vibe is still there as is the open-air atmosphere of our ol’ doomed manifest destiny soul and the nervous aura of LA’s ever-evolving multi-culti indie milieu.
Eric Davidson - Agit Reader

"Album Review: Wait.Think.Fast. – Luces Del Sur"

By Travis Woods

Release Date: 9.7.10

Label: Self-released

“Si Es Por Amor,” the opening track on Wait.Think.Fast.’s dizzyingly good second album, Luces Del Sur, masterfully sets the tone for the 40 lush and moody minutes that follow—opening with a ‘60s girl-group beat, the song soon flowers into a lean and propulsive dream-pop anthem, bound together by a buzzing synth line and Jacqueline Santillan’s alluring vocals, all of which are balanced above a darkly swirling and rhythmic undertow.

It’s a song that captures the prismatic array of sounds which the band fleshes out later in the disc, from the woozy, humid noir of Latin pop (the galloping “Jornaleras”) to darkly radiant and atmospheric ballads (“Winter Lights” and the depressed yet seductively cathartic “Bad Night”) down to simply joyous bursts of gorgeous pop (the stunning “Look Alive”). Taken as a whole, Luces Del Sur is a disc that binds together a myriad of sonic worlds, a dark gem of a record with enough dalliances with various rock and pop subgenres to interest nearly any adventurous listener. “Look alive, there’s something in this world for you,” Santillan croons at one point. That goes for this album, too. - Web In Front

"Album Review: Wait. Think. Fast. – Luces del Sur"

Have you ever met a charming man or woman who speaks a language you don’t understand but it doesn’t matter because they’re so beautiful? You just stare lovingly into their eyes, captivated by their charisma. Penelope Cruz may be the darling of the Spanish-speaking actors, but Wait. Think. Fast.’s Jacqueline Santillan is certainly the music scene’s new endearing bilingual pianist-singer-songwriter.

Only a handful of bands can pull off bilingualism, including Dungen and the’s (Swedish and Japanese respectively), but Jacqueline sings in Spanish and English on the group’s new release Luces del Sur. Originally born in Argentina, Jacqueline moved to the US when she was four. When she sings in English, she sounds like the girl next door, but when you hear her native tongue, it’s like she’s lived abroad all along. Lucky for all you LA folk, Wait. Think. Fast. is homegrown right around the corner in Echo Park. They’ll be performing at the Eagle Rock Music Festival on October 2nd and the El Rey Theatre on October 13th. After more music lovers hear this record, I am certain they’ll be a new LA favorite with multiple bookings to follow.

Produced by Craig Schumacher (Neko Case, Calexico, Devotchka, Iron and Wine), Luces del Sur is a dream-like journey that takes you from pop-rock songs to tearjerkers and everything in between. A bit of a Tegan and Sara sound can be heard from the pop opener “Si Es Por Amor,” and alt country and obviously Spanish influences can be heard throughout the album (most notably in “Trouble” and “Jornaleras” respectively). “Winter Lights” features gorgeous harmonies between the female lead and the male backup—the only real harmonies between genders on the album—and are a necessary addition to showcase their broad talents. If you’re feeling gloomy or depressed, just put on “Look Alive” and the optimistic lyrics and upbeat chord progression will positively turn that frown upside down.

Luces del Sur reveals a perfect combination of the indie rock scene and the Latin alternative scene, which has probably never been approached by other bands before, or at least not as successfully as Wait. Think. Fast. Dark spirits seem to hover over most of the tracks, even the so-called pop songs. They aren’t evil feelings or moods, perhaps more melancholy images created by mysterious and shadowy approaches. It’s a lovely blend of multiple genres glued together by the soothing voice of Jacqueline, and that’s exactly what her voice and the music are, soothing. The band possesses an interesting calm factor that can simultaneously rev you up. Penelope Cruz move over, there is a new Argentinean in Hollywood! - LA Music Blog

"KCRW - Today's Top Tune"

Wait. Think. Fast. bring together the sounds of two of L.A.'s burgeoning music communities - East Side indie rock and Latin Alternative - for a singular new style. The new album is Luces del Sur. Today's Top Tune features Tijuana's Ceci Bastida on "Leymah Contra Los Diablos". - KCRW

"Wait. Think. Fast. – Luces Del Sur"

From the chiming opening of “Si Es Por Amor,” alongside its 80s guitar riff and swelling progressions, you’d think it was one of Café Tacvba’s liveliest jams. The pound of the drums, the clanking of the piano and the typical sing-along chorus always make for fantastic results; the game-changer being Jacqueline Santillan’s impressionably terrific voice. The head-liner, the Argentinean-born singer’s vocals are the star of the show: an ever-changing, ever-evolving growth of maturity, it’s easily what makes Luces Del Sur more than just a good album.
While the main theme of the album follows the notion of searching for the lights in the south, Wait. Think. Fast. is the fruition of what can happen when aiming modestly and potently. Refusing to settle for just another hybrid of cultures, the California-based band find solace in turning their honest desires into rich music filled with worldly, alternative rock in its creation.
There’s a moment on “Bad Night” – somewhere after the mysterious opening drone and right when Santillan enters – where everything suddenly sounds like Fox Confessor Brings the Flood. Strong and visceral, Santillan’s voice sings out “I can’t get to sleep without you” with her most Neko Case-like emotion and prowess. It’s not only a strong shift in terms of the scope but it’s a directly new style from what preceded it. Twangy and almost Western, the entire band uses their versatility to their advantage in every conceivable way.
There are undeniable amounts of musicality on Spanish-infused songs like “Jornaleras,” where every musician is asked to step forward and bask in the light for a bit. After Santillan has sung her heart away, she gives the floor to a flamenco acoustic guitar before coming back to sing with newly introduced, swirling strings. There are a definite number of occasions where the music leaves you floored with its sincere emotion – no pun intended. Like on “Leymah Contra Los Diablos,” Santillan finds inspiration in the darkest of corners and in turn, her band-mates quickly latch onto the sentiments. The guitar is a strong contender in the background, waiting for the music to come around to deliver a gripping, intense force.
I didn’t even realize that Santillan was a fan of Case until I had already lived with the album for quite some time. It’s probably the finest form of flattery in modeling one’s career after another and I’m sure Case would be proud. Santillan takes everything in her roots and combines it all with a compelling blend of rock’s finest cornerstones – Luces Del Sur ends up assuring the band’s ability in excellent form. It doesn’t hurt when you have such a strong band to back you up, it gives Santillan the flexibility to roam free and for Wait. Think. Fast., that’s the best kind of news.
AT Records
- Delusions of Adequacy

"Wait. Think. Fast. Sonidos de Echo Park"

), Wait. Think. Fast. ofrece un adelanto de lo que podría convertirse en una de las bandas más representativas de Los Ángeles.
La canción Look Alive ha sido escuchada en series de televisión como Gossip Girl y One Tree Hill, y sus conciertos en escenarios locales como La Cita en el centro de la ciudad, Avalon en Hollywood o Echoplex en Echo Park han atraído a nuevos fans de su sonido que, a falta de una descripción más concreta, podría catalogarse como "indie rock en inglés y español", que es como lo define la líder de la banda, Jacqueline Santillán.
Nacida en Argentina, la cantante y compositora es acompañada por su marido, Matthew Beighley —músico y cocompositor— y el baterista Thomas King, y se dejan arropar por el ambiente que los rodea, que es el barrio angelino de Echo Park.
"Es un área donde nos apoyamos los unos a los otros, aunque nuestros grupos sean distintos", explica Santillán en español. "Muchos de mis vecinos son músicos. La comunidad es musical, artística. Y no hay problema si estás en dos o tres bandas o trabajas media jornada. Esta es la vida por acá. El sur de California es una gran influencia para mí porque he [vivido] aquí casi toda mi vida. El disco y el nombre de Luces del sur tiene que ver con todo eso, el desierto de acá... Sí, el ambiente tiene mucho que ver con nuestra música".
A diferencia de otros muchos grupos que pueblan el escenario musical de Los Ángeles, Wait. Think. Fast. ya ha logrado ser reconocido por diversos medios, entre ellos la emisoria de radio KCRW. - La Opinion

"Wait. Think. Fast. Finds a Special Sonic Union"

The restlessness of indie rock and the ethereality of Latin pop. Spanish and English. Jacqueline Santillan and Matthew Beighley.

They are marriages that work on “Luces Del Sur,” the second album from L.A. quartet Wait. Think. Fast.

Now about that pesky punctuation in the band’s name … “It’s not wait-think-fast,” says Santillan, explaining the derivation, which has nothing to do with quick thinking. “It’s from ‘Siddhartha’ — when he goes to the city and is asked what he’s learned.” Across the living room in their Echo Park home, Beighley smiles: “It’s cooler now, isn’t it.”

||| Download: “Look Alive” (single version)
||| Read and download: The story behind “Jornaleras” (via LA Weekly).
||| Also: “Leymah Contra Los Diablos” was KCRW’s tune of the day Aug. 6.
Cool as air conditioning. Which is the vibe exuded by WTF’s sophomore album, a mix of dream-pop anchored by keyboards, electro beats and indie-rock guitars, moody anthems and Latin-influenced rockers sung in that other American language, Spanish. It’s a true melting-pot record, even if Santillan cops to already being weary of being pigeonholed as an “Argentine-born” singer. “But I’m a lot of things,” she says good-naturedly. “I’m an American girl through and through.”

Which makes a unilingual person curious: Does she dream in Spanish or English? “I’ve never been asked that before … I guess I do everything in both. I think in both, I dream in both,” she says. “When we’re writing a song, I just start singing words as we’re running through it, and [whether it's Spanish or English] depends on what sounds better.”

The running-through process is what makes the Santillan-Beighley household a bustling place. He is responsible for most the music, she for the melody lines and lyrics. “I’m self-taught and I tend to put in a lot of time on things,” Beighley says. “I’ll work on something for five hours, and she’ll overhear it, come in and in an instant have a finished melody.”

Occasionally, they admit, Tom King and Sean Stentz have to referee — “Band fights are like Mom and Dad,” Beighley says laughing. “It’s funny,” Santillan adds. “And it’s fine to have a lot of opinions flying around.”

Opinions were important in the making of “Luces Del Sur,” which was recorded in Tucson with Craig Schumacher — the first time the band had worked with an outside producer. “I was looking forward to it, just to have somebody get us out of our comfort zone,” Santillan says. “But I was anxious about working with somebody who’s worked with Neko Case.”

The album, which was released digitally in August, comes out in physical form on Tuesday.

||| Live: Wait. Think. Fast. celebrates the release with a show Tuesday at the Echo featuring Light FM, Marvelous Toy and Future Ghost. - Buzzbands

"iTunes: Song of The Week (Sept. 6th-13th 2010)"

"Wait. Think. Fast. is an indie rock band featuring the talents of Argentina-born Jacqueline Santillan, her husband Matthew Beighley, and drummer Thomas King. Their energetic sound references L.A.’s Latino enclaves as much as it recalls the influences of David Bowie and The Smiths. On Si Es por Amor, the alto-voiced Santillan sings mostly in Spanish but lapses into English for a divinely melodic chorus." -- iTunes Store
- iTunes

"Story Behind the Song: Exclusive Chat with Echo Park's Wait. Think. Fast. About 'Jornaleras' + Free Download"

They say that songs emerge from the head or the heart. But sometimes an instrument is all the inspiration a musician needs. So says songwriter Matthew Beighley from Echo Park's sultry rock outfit, Wait. Think. Fast. about "Jornaleras," the evocative boundary-breaking track from their debut LP Luces Del Sur.

While he and his wife Jacqueline Santillan--Wait. Think. Fast.'s Argentine-born, smokey-voiced singer-- watched a performance by South American virtuoso Gustavo Santaolalla, Beighley fell in love with a sound.

"[Santaolalla played] this haunting little song he performed on charango from the Motorcycle Diaries soundtrack called, "De Usuahia a la Quiaca." The charango just killed me. I had just been down in Argentina and loved the kind of ghostly, teardrop sound of this instrument, so I went home that week and taught myself how to play it.The song came fast; I had it in an hour."

For Santillan, inspiration comes from stories. On an cold day in Brooklyn, she was inspired by the domestic day laborers, "Jornaleras" gathered on a street corner looking for work. "I followed him out there and heard their stories. Their situation is difficult, stressful and can be dangerous. The lyrics are just snapshots of how I saw them: hard working, resourceful, and resolute."

Wait. Think. Fast. is South American flavor for indie rock palates, their sound stirs together the cultural overlap of Echo Park, creating a new taste, both familiar and distinct. They bring their songs and stories to the Echo for their album release party September 7th.

After the jump, husband and wife duo Matthew Beighley and Jacqueline Santillan exclusively give LA Weekly the story behind "Jornaleras" and reveal how sometimes a song can write itself.
Jornaleras - Wait. Think. Fast. by Drewtewksbury

Matthew Beighley: While I was writing and demoing song ideas for our new record, Jacqueline and I went to see Gustavo Santaolalla perform at the El Rey with Bajofondo. It was a beautiful show-- but the highlight for me was this haunting little song he performed on charango from the Motorcycle Diaries soundtrack called, "De Usuahia a la Quiaca." The charango just killed me-- I had just been down in Argentina and loved the kind of ghostly, teardrop sound of this instrument, so I went home that week and taught myself how to play it (I'd borrowed one from a friend).

The beauty of teaching yourself an instrument is that you often learn incorrectly. I ended up using a pick and playing very arpeggiated and quick patterns because it just felt natural, even though it's traditionally strummed with the hand. My unshakable Byrds/R.E.M. influence I guess. I just remember sitting down and not even knowing what notes the strings were, and just feeling my way around until I was making some semblance of a chord. The song came fast; I had it in an hour. I wish they would all come to me like that."

Jacqueline Santillan: Our activist friend Marco Amador was interviewing female day laborers in NY for a documentary. Usually you see men day laborers or "jornaleros" as they are called in Spanish, waiting for construction work at Home Depot and such places, but there's an area in Brooklyn where women wait around for domestic jobs during the day - not just Latinas but also Polish immigrants. I followed him out there and heard their stories. Their situation is difficult, stressful and can be dangerous. The lyrics are just snapshots of how I saw them - hard working, resourceful, and resolute. Do they feel womanly? Do they get bored? I had to wonder what it was like in their home countries because waiting for work on a street in Brooklyn in the dead of winter, where at the end of the day you may or may not get paid, just seemed so brutal. Marco plays the jarana on the song." - LA Weekly

"Wait. Think. Fast. - Local Band We Love"

Wait.Think.Fast celebrated the release of their new album Luces Del Sur earlier this week and KCRW Raul Campos tells us why the bilingual indie rockers are a band to watch:

“Being a native Angeleno, I always gravitate towards supporting local bands. It’s a huge plus when the band is as fantastic as Wait. Think. Fast. I’ve had the opportunity to follow this band since its inception about just a few years ago. Jackie Santillan’s vocals bring such a haunting passion to the music that is so captivating and inspiring you can not help to be entranced!

The new album Luces Del Sur is just that – gorgeous melodies, tremendously heartfelt lyrics and vocals make this a beautifully well-rounded package.

Instantly, I was drawn to the tune “Bad Night.” Maybe it’s because I can relate on so many levels to it, or could it be that it’s just a fantastically produced tune. Either way, it’s a song that I have to repeat at least a couple times every time I pop the CD in my player. ”

– Raul Campos - KCRW

"Album review: Wait. Think. Fast's 'Luces Del Sur'"

Wait. Think. Fast seems like the kind of band that should be commonplace in Los Angeles.

Singer-pianist Jacqueline Santillan shifts between Spanish and English vocals with an inviting casualness, an approach to contemporary pop that takes a multi-ethnic view for granted. Rare indeed is a band that so comfortably executes West Coast traditions, be it the SoCal country of “Trouble,” the working-class guitar vamp of “Covina,” the Latin lament of “Jornaleras” or the orchestral, Hollywood-ready grandeur of “Bad Night.”

There’s a slight risk, perhaps, that the trio could surrender to its more maudlin tendencies on future albums. “Look Alive,” for instance, with its antiseptic mid-tempo beats and feel-better positivity seems tailor-made for TV dramas.

For now, however, the act’s grasp of a melody and subtle genre-crossing instrumentation ultimately wins out. Think of it as the musical equivalent of Los Angeles sprawl -- without the headaches.

—Todd Martens - Los Angeles Times

"LA Record - March, 2007"

WAIT THINK FAST @ THE SMELL: Not as ethereal as it may appear at first. Quite the opposite! It's pretty down... to Earth. It is the music for those who saunter across rooms poetically or music for whales. I'm still unsure which species would like it more. With female-fronted vocals, and heart-beat/brain-wave soundscapes, Wait Think Fast make it painfully obvious why they should be liked, which is quite ironic for that 'don't care so much' attitude they exude. The keyboard reminds me of something they might use in a movie about the Night Stalker, Richard Ramirez. If such a movie was ever made. The samples they use appear angelic but end up quite haunting. The drums are an aide in teleporting listeners from one shade of moody to another, and the bass is best described as something throbbing. Grim reaper status. They are fastidiously breathy and sultry, but simultaneously at ease, and for being so sad, the tunes are pretty lovely. I'm just wondering if "Lightning" may be used to communicate with dolphins. The world may never know. (LA) - LA Record

"NPR - All Songs Considered - December 2008"

Wait Think Fast is one of the current standouts in a burgeoning scene of ethnically and musically diverse Los Angeles-based bands. … the quartet adds distinct flavor to its atmospheric, post-punk sound by using both Spanish and English for its bilingual lyrics. Vuelve al Mar begins with the seductive and spacey "Cura," which tells of the superstitions and folklore Santillan heard while growing up. Beautifully noisy guitar accompanies ghostly piano while Santillan switches between Spanish and English lyrics in transitions so smooth, they're hardly noticeable. "Cura" is followed by "Clear Our Name," a song entirely in English and one that has landed Wait Think Fast on L.A. radio waves. It's easy to hear why it's caught the attention of the public. Haunting, tightly crafted, with thoughtful lyrics (an approachable discussion of immigration, in this case), "Clear Our Name" perfectly showcases all of Wait Think Fast's strengths. Later, the group abandons its fuzzy guitars for the glittering beauty of "Cien Fuegos." Its swaying, dreamlike melody will lull any listener, whether they understand Spanish or not. Like the rest of Vuelve al Mar, the emotive nature of "Cien Fuegos" easily transcends any language barrier. - NPR

"LA Weekly - November 2008"

..Echo Park quartet Wait. Think. Fast. more than make up for their punctuational demands with generous melody and attentive songcraft. The songs are solid without being rigid, and pretty without being cloying. My fave is the breezy, LA-atmospheric "Cien Fuegos," on which Argentinean-born vocalist/keyboardist Jacqueline Santillan floats seductive Spanish over a Beach Boys/Radiohead/Elliott Smith vibe. ... -Randall Roberts - LA Weekly

"L.A. Record - September 2008"

Wait.Think.Fast play quick ("Surface Streets," pushing a little seagull guitar that reminds me of Ride with a nervous "fearless/forward" chorus) or charming ("Clear Our Name" is absolutely radio-ready—takes off like someone's chasing it!) but find their best when they are deep and slow and sad, like "Heavy Water" (with singer Jacqueline most tenderly aflutter in all the heartbreaking places) or the stand-out "Cien Fuegos," a dream-pop song powered by a lonely little flame all its own. Mazzy Star melancholy and mechanics on much of this, but you can feel a lot of other favorites that might be here, too: Johnny Marr and Neko Case and maybe Debbie Harry? Listener-scholars who knew how tiny parts have to align with big parts. Pinpoint production by Matthew Beighley and Jacqueline Santillan, picks out undiscovered nooks and knuckles for every listen on songs like "Heavy Water," where about five counterpointing ideas somehow sway into salutary balance, and time takes a cigarette before closer "Pajaros De Papel," an auld-lang-syne finish to an EP that already feels like an album. (Which will be coming real quick after this if the world does its math right.) People love those uncommon songs that get you feeling happy and sad both for the same four minutes; here waits a set you haven't heard yet. - L.A. Record

"webinfront.net - October 2008"

An indie darkland of whirlpooled, noise-spiked atmospherics cut through by the lipcurled and smoke-hewn sensuousness of Santillan’s bilingual vocals and the sinewy crunch of wiry, Wire-y guitar lines, Wait.Think.Fast.’s Vuelve al Mar is nearly as complete a vision as any EP is allowed to be—in its thirty minutes the record swirls from the lean sinew of chiming postpunk (“Clear Our Name”) to ambient trickles of silvery, synthy beauty (“Cien Fuegos”), with each track in between bearing the band’s uniquely noirish stamp of gently apocalyptic (figure that one out) beauty. Sure, they echo a bit of the Bunnymen (Johnny Marr, too, but then that kills the pun), but that’s it—just echoes. The rest belongs to the band, and to those lucky enough to listen. -Travis Woods - webinfront.net

"The Onion - January 8, 2009"

Wait. Think. Fast.-
Ice skating around downtown's makeshift rink while trumpets and guitars gingerly mix with Argentinean singer Jacqueline Santillan's Spanish canto will be as romantic as it sounds. As the lead singer of the eastside outfit Wait. Think. Fast., Santillan also sings in English but her bilingual group throws a little extra flair into its atmospheric rock on its recently released EP "Vuelve Al Mar". Work on your figure eight while contemplating lines like, "Solo creo en lo que viene" from "Cien Fuegos", which translates roughly to "I believe only in what's coming" -- and try not to eat it on the ice. - The Onion

"Buzzbands.la - November 2008"

How do you say “dreamy” in Spanish? This intoxicating bit of shimmering shadow-pop (reminds me of the ethereal, folky work of the Golden Palominos in the ’90s) serves its metaphysical themes well. Argentinean-born singer-keyboardist Jacqueline Santillan narrates plaintively as holy water turns black, frogs come out at midnight, souls return to the sea and bad luck stalks he who makes bad decisions. And that’s just in one song. A couple spins of this disc, produced by Matthew Beighley (the band’s guitarist-bassist), and you won’t even notice that it’s bilungual and you’re not. - Kevin Bronson - Buzzbands.la.com

"Flavorpill - January 2009"

..Echo Park's Wait.Think.Fast. play pretty, catchy pop tinged with a subtle, dark spirit. Frontwoman and piano driver Jacqueline Santillan meets the cheerful surrealism of the scene halfway, with an '80s-tinged style that takes a decidedly romantic view of new wave. …WTF pushes indie odes to decay and ennui. - Flavorpill

"KCRW - Song of the Day - January 6, 2009"

http://www.kcrw.com/music/programs/tu/tu090106waitthinkfast_cien_f - KCRW

"NPR - All Songs Considered - July 2007"

July 17, 2007 · Wait Think Fast are a multi-ethnic Los Angeles band that put a Latin spin on an early '80s post-punk sound. Argentinean born singer/pianist Jacqueline Santillan's sultry alto often sounds like PJ Harvey sitting in with Interpol. "While Bach, Satie and Chopin informed my childhood," she says, "The Smiths, Fugazi, and Neko Case later became strong inspirations."

With songs in both Spanish and English, the band's self-titled debut EP is eclectic and brooding, informed by South American folk music, Mexican mariachi and the Cure.

Santillan's confrontational lyrics take a stab at upper-class, white-collar culture on "Bad Men." "As a human being, you failed sir," she declares. - NPR


"Wait Think Fast" - self titled E.P., released 2007
"Vuelve Al Mar" E.P. - released October 2008
"Luces del Sur" full length - released September 2010



At the intersection between two vibrant Los Angeles music communities, the well-entrenched East Side indie rock scene and the burgeoning Latino hipster scene, exists Wait. Think. Fast. A unique hybrid of these two distinct worlds, the band marries sultry pop songs with bilingual vocals, melding two tongues into a singular sound that has been exciting listeners in both English and Spanish since forming in 2007.
Not your parents’ “Rock en Espanol,” the band plays inspired, romantic indie rock that happens to have a Spanish twist. “I live in two cultures,” says singer/keyboardist Jacqueline Santillan. “I’m a musician, and live in this bohemian part of the city, but then I go home to my friends and family who live in the working class Latino neighborhood I grew up in. I’ve never really been able to, nor have I wanted to fully assimilate.”
Born in Mendoza, Argentina, Santillan was brought to L.A. by her parents at the age of four. “I’m a story hunter,” Santillan says. “My life has this adventurous arc; my family fled their home country in the middle of a military coup and had to make a new start so I’m used to the dramatic and I’m drawn to the intense. This comes out in my lyrics and in our songs.”
Raised in a traditional Argentine household in Southern California, Santillan’s music is informed by the Spanish she spoke at home and her perspective of watching her family acclimate to life in a new world, rounded out with her adoration for English rockers from David Bowie to The Smiths. Her band mate, husband, and passionate cineast, guitarist/producer/vocalist Matthew Beighley, further infuses lush, layered soundscapes likened to scores that accompany imaginary films in his head. Combined they create a sound that is vital and visceral, and as urban and eclectic as its inception.
Having earned critical acclaim and an increasing legion of hometown fans with its 2009 EP, Vuelve al Mar (Origami Records), the band decided to take itself out of its comfort zone for its first full-length, Luces del Sur, scheduled for release on September 2. They turned to producer Craig Schumacher, who has helmed albums by Iron & Wine and Devotchka, as well as one of Santillan’s favorite singers, Neko Case.
The band was drawn to Schumacher’s Tucson studio because his setup offered them the opportunity to record their new album live, allowing them to achieve the warmer, more natural sound they sought. But the entire process came to take on a magical quality that adds to the expansiveness and heightened emotionalism of the album, which addresses the theme of migration in its songs.
The adventure began when the band, which also includes drummer Thomas King, piled into their van and drove by night to Tucson, traveling through the gorgeous, moon-draped desert landscape along desolate Route 8. During recording sessions, the band played together in a large room, with Santillan singing from a platform at its center, as Schumacher sat at her side, conducting the band from beneath a set of oversized headphones. An exacting and demanding collaborator, he pushed the band to clarify their intentions musically and lyrically and inspired some of their best writing and performances ever. Or as Santillan says with her usual mix of humor and candor: “He kicked my ass.”
The result is an album that maintains the feeling and fervor of their previous material while exuding a greater sophistication and self-confidence. Standouts include first single “Look Alive,” a joyous call to lead a more inspired life, delivered over a spry electronic beat. “Leymah Contra Los Diablos,” a duet with Ceci Bastida (ex-member of iconic Mexican punk band Tijuana No and formerly of Julieta Venegas’s band), draws inspiration from the story of a Liberian woman who led her war-torn nation to peace following a dream that she had been chosen by God, even though she felt ill-equipped for the task. “Covina Park” is a taut rocker that features Jacob Valenzuela (Calexico) on trumpet. “Bad Night,” a big-hearted, string-laden lament with a twang is Beighley’s particular favorite, especially as he loved seeing Schumacher become so impassioned during their recording of the song that he almost seemed in danger of a heart attack.
Early reaction to the album has been equally ardent. “Look Alive” was chosen by top music supervisor Alexandra Patsavas for “Gossip Girl,” and also landed on an episode of “One Tree Hill.” The band has garnered new fans through segments on MTV3 and Galeria Alternativa, which aired interview and live footage during coverage of the band’s Pershing Square “Spaceland on Ice” performance. They have been invited to perform on Univision as well as Telemundo and received airplay simultaneously in Mexico and on KROQ in Los Angeles. Again, walking the line between varied musical cultures, the band has shared stages with everyone from indie rockers like Delorean, Helio Sequence, Avi Buffalo, Mia Doi Todd and Calexico, and Latin-influenced acts including Ozomatli, Ce