Known as the bassist in the psychedelic infused band, Chicano Batman, Eduardo Arenas, better refereed to as É. Arenas, takes his voice and artistic ability to a new level with his solo album Nariz. Cultivating for 6 years, Nariz becomes a fusion of exploratory senses, crafted with time. With a record release show on November 18th, at Multiply with Rudy De Anda, the ultimate release will be an equal celebration of the original journey.
Arenas takes rumbustious and fluid bossa-samba inspiration from Pedro Santos, and experimental note bending from the likes of The Flaming Lips, while translating it into an audible piece of art that transcends multiple senses. From the worldly and innocent romantic aroma Arenas displays, the intimacy of the album is a refreshing change of pace needed at this exact moment in this world. Collaborating with wife, Lorena Endara, the album will not only stimulate the audible senses but translate visually though Endara’s photography.
A beauty within editing that only time could allow, Nariz uncovers Arenas through abstract world music, and then reflects back to the listener, becoming their own “nariz.”
Luckily, I had the pleasure to speak to Arenas about the album, sound, and overall feeling that Nariz captures.
Girl Underground Music: Being a part of such a well-known band like Chicano Batman, did you have in the back of your mind that you wanted to put out something completely different to have your own “sound” or was this a thought you really didn’t think about.
Eduardo Arenas: I never really thought about that. I’ve written a few songs in Chicano Batman while keeping in mind the aesthetic and virtuosity of each of my brothers in the band. The four of us have such distinct tastes in music and somehow we make it work. We make that band what it is and we are constantly inspiring each other. While in Chicano Batman, each one of us has played in other bands whether cumbia, hip-hop, prog-soul, etc. It seems natural considering the versatility of each of our members. Out of all of us, I probably record and produce the most. I love surrounding myself around musicians and fresh musical concepts. I learn from every person I work with. It only fuels the active orchestra playing in my head. The only healthy way to move forward is to record and that’s been my commitment to myself.
GUM: You state that this took “6 years in the making,” which is an incredible labor of love to finally put out. Since you’ve carried this so long, with the ability to always edit or add, how do you feel now that the album will finally be released, without having that ability?- Could it be compared more or less to a parent finally letting the child fly from the nest? -And when was the moment that you said, “this is it, I’m going to release it this year”?
Arenas: It absolutely felt like letting the child fly. You have no idea how many times I’ve remixed some of these songs. In fact, when I come across a mix with a 2012 date on it, I erase it fearing that I had better intuition of my mixing years ago than what ended up on the album. Creating this album was definitely a process of maturity. I had always considered these songs to be mine and only mine. But as the years passed by I realized that an artist’s compositions are actually only theirs until the day they release them to world. Whether its Black Sabbath’s Wheels of Confusion or Marvin Gaye’s Distant Lover, the meaning of the song becomes subjective once the listener takes cover. People will adapt the songs to their own reality and ultimately, that’s the beauty of music. My songs are now in the world and the people will dictate the state those compositions for years to come.
The definite moment I realized I had to put the album out was when my wife refused to cut my hair until I finished every mix of every song in the album! Seriously, that’s what happened. My hair was in the horrible short-to-long phase where the shadow of my head looked like a honeycomb Christmas bell decoration. She did this because the reality was her being able to pinpoint my musical stagnation and lack of confidence as a musician. These feelings were directly linked to these lingering mixes that had no end. It must have been the beginning of summer of 2016 when I began to focus finishing in mid-December of the same year.
GUM: I was listening to some tracks that inspired your sound on this album, such as Pedro Santos. During the course of the 6 years did your inspiration change as well or was it consistent?
Arenas: I don’t feel like my compositional style changed over the 6 years it took to finish the album. When I started the initial compositions I was simply trying to get this orchestra out of my head. At the time, I had been listening to a lot of Caetano Veloso, Roberto Carlos, Rigo Tovar and Flaming Lips (Soft Bulletin) and I was able to find a place inside that mix for my music and myself. My approach to recording engineering, I was drastically improving throughout the years, which was extremely resourceful and a hindrance at the same time. That’s when I kept convincing myself that my previous mixes sucked.
GUM: I know you stated also in your KickStarter Campaign that your wife lent her photography skills for the album, which is compiled into a photo album for Nariz. Do you feel that the images will better tell the story of the album, or simply compliment?
Arenas: I think the photography is definitely a compliment to the songs. The concept behind the music and photography of Nariz was an opportunity to let our passions soar. Between the both of us we run an audio/video production company called Producciones Con Sal and have done music videos, photography and have produced albums for other artists. But never had we actually worked on a product from its inception the way we had on this project. Although she knows the meaning of all the songs, my wife Lorena took the liberty of being even more subjective with the photography to interpret the songs to her liking and I love that. Her approach is bold and versatile, full of color and adventure. Ultimately, that’s what the album is trying to provoke.
GUM: When you would see what she would capture did you ever try to recreate something else to then capture her images, in terms of sound?
Arenas: Most definitely. For the composition ‘Lagartija,’ Lorena shot 15 minutes of a lizards tail, squiggling itself into unconsciousness. She approached me about doing a composition to a 3-minute version of the video she had edited. We were dating at the time and I needed to impress her and secure a place in her heart. The result couldn’t have been further from a romantic ballad.
GUM: Is Nariz literal or does it have a double meaning? Because it’s an interesting choice to name your album “nose.”
Arenas: ‘Nariz’ is something my wife tells me every time she catches me in deep thinking. Since I was a kid, nobody ever really taught me how to breathe from my nose. Now, when I’m (in) deep thought I’m not too capable of simultaneously breathing and thinking. Sometimes all we need to do is stop and take a deep breath to realize that the thoughts clouding are just thoughts. They aren’t real.
GUM: Touching on names of your tracks on Nariz, such as “Roda Gigante,” “Running in Circles,” there seemed to be a lot of being tied, going in circles, or simply being at a standstill. Then on the other side (there’s) a very colorful and free, playful imagery with your choice of Spanish Slang, such as “El Sancudo,” and “Seja Feliz.” Why did you feel that you needed to incorporate both of these aspects within your album?
Arenas: It was an accident really. I recorded these songs in Los Angeles, Brazil, and Panama. I was just trying to be me with disregard for genre or language. Maybe you’ve caught on to something I haven’t yet thought about. I definitely feel a relief putting this music out and feeling inspired to write and produce new music. I also feel like people’s interpretation of my music is opening my perspective on thoughts about myself that I’ve been unaware of. This is going to be a learning process, a humbling transition. At the end of the day, I think that’s the challenge I was undertaking in releasing my music.
GUM: This album has a distinct beauty to it, that I think just came within the time. Do you agree that the time aspect of creating this album had a huge impact on the end result?
Arenas: Absolutely. Some of these compositions felt like big pants I hadn’t filled at the time I was writing them. Some songs written in 2011 started making sense to me in 2014, and I would write lyrics in 2015. The compositions literally grew like trees under my care. I grew into them as the years passed by. It was an incredible and draining experience. It reminds me of how tiring it is to be living with your mind in the past. Beautiful things come out of living in the present with an outlook into the future. Subconsciously, that’s how I wanted the album to end, on a hopeful note.
GUM: Since this is your debut LP, I always like to ask artists this question: What is it you would like to get across to listeners with this album?
Arenas: Everybody has a story to tell, so tell it. You never know how you may move other people who might just move you right back. The more connections we make, the less we judge and start relating to each other based on emotions and compassion.
GUM: What are your plans after this release? Will you continue to put out solo material?
Arenas: Of course! This is literally just the beginning. I can imagine myself being 65 years old still producing music. I have lots of room to grow and I love immersing myself in all musical styles. Playing in Chicano Batman has awakened a sort of spiritual junky in me that constantly seeks the musical high. It’s out there and I’m gonna get it.
GUM: Anything else you’d like to add?
Arenas: I would like to again thank all my Kickstarter campaign pledgers. I almost reached 200% of my funding goal! They really boosted my self-confidence and made we work hard to get my music out to the world. This would not have been possible without them.
Catch É. Arenas alongside Rudy De Anda for their dual record release tonight at Multiply in Los Angeles.