Los Siquicos Litoraleños used to be more of an amorphous band with a rotating cast of members. Who comprises the core of the band now?
When we started out it was pretty open-ended. If a friend would say “I just bought a trumpet”, he would probably be in for a couple of songs. It was pretty organic. The core of the band was always Germán, Cucu and Diego. We had different bass players in the band, but we also play without bass. I always think this kind of rotation keeps the sound fresh. You never get used to one line-up.
I was surprised to see a new full-length album announced, pretty much out of the blue. How did you end up on Hive Mind?
Pretty late this year we decided to do another European tour. We asked who would release a new Siquicos album and Marc Teare from Hive Mind replied. He was very enthusiastic and has been supportive from day one. We did this record actually very quick, mixing old and new stuff, which is the concept of the Medianos Exitos Subtropicales series. The one on Hive Mind is Volume 2 and is called El Relincho del Tiempo. We'll probably make a couple more in the future.
How does El Relincho Del Tiempo differ from your previous work musically and lyrically?
Personally I don't reflect too much on the writing process, words or music. I don’t want to put too much thought in it. I write very fast and usually the meaning comes after I write the lyrics. Normal, almost day-to-day things create an interesting contrast with supernatural or otherworldly things.
I thought the artwork on the previous full-length Sonido Chipadelico was somewhat lacking. I liked the sloppy cut/paste aesthetic of some earlier releases, so maybe I was expecting something more expressive visually. Have you considered working with other visual artists?
We worked with Salvador Cresta on the last LP. He also did some of our videos (like the teaser of the last album). He is an interesting character who lives on a small ranch in the Sierras (in the province of Cordoba). Salvador's paintings are interestingly weird. He works with whatever he can find at the moment: VHS, old cell phones, etc. I still like the covers of our first CD-R; they were very ugly but expressive, like those cassettes I used to buy as a kid at gas stations while travelling with my family to Salta and Jujuy (Argentina’s remote northwest). I was eight or something. There was a lot of Argentine folklore in those days, and the landscape was very evocative. Anyway, I liked those cheap cassette covers, that was a big influence in the early days. If you can make it completely good, try to make it completely bad. It's not like we are on a lo-fi hype or something. It's just that we never have enough money to buy new stuff, so we are very used to working with old stuff.
Have you ever considered staying in Curuzú Cuatiá and just focus on being a proper folk musician?
Not at all! We still are very unpopular there. I tend to think proper folk musicians hate us. I honestly don't think I would have the skills to do it and not suck. The other guys of the band probably would have more luck, but it's hard to tell since we are so used to disrupt genres that it may have become a habit by now. On the other hand, it would be great to compose for more "straightforward" musicians and see what could come from that sort of collaboration.
You now live in La Paz, Bolivia. How did you end up there?
After the European tour in 2016, I didn't want to return to Argentina, so basically I asked the people of the UK festival who brought us there if they could buy a ticket to Bolivia (a place I had never been before) instead of a return ticket to Argentina. There are lots of things I love about La Paz. The whole place has a surreal atmosphere; it's both loud and quiet. They have all these festivities taking place almost every month and the music is really interesting there. I found the Andean music to be pretty psychedelic, even if the locals wouldn't see it that way at all. The almost out-of-tune horns doing pentatonic scales in an almost Far Eastern fashion to me always really felt like otherworldly stuff.
Do you see the band as a reaction to what's going on in the Argentine music scene, or do you feel you're on a more personal quest?
Well, I personally don’t care about mainstream Argentine music. It is such a mediocre and boring thing, I don’t even pay attention to it. For me at the end is all about enjoyment and adventure, and that may well be a personal and collective quest.
But you did have some sort of an impact. In the recent documentary film about Los Siquicos Litoraleños Encandilan Luces (“Lights Dazzle”) by Alejandro Gallo Bermudez, we see an Argentine band that seems to copy your sound and on stage look while forgetting to credit you in the process. It's pretty amusing.
Yes, there was a band that used to play some of our songs without crediting us but that was just a particular case. After we started out, a couple of bands emerged that also mixed Chamamé [popular folk music of Corrientes and other regions - ed] or other Argentinian folklore with rock, but to say that their sound is based on our music is kind of an oversimplification. I don't agree with the documentary in that regard. Everybody can do that, especially if you are from Argentina. In a way, it's a pretty obvious thing to do. I can see why they put that in the film but if you ask me I don’t agree with that interpretation at all. All those bands have a pretty “normal” sound. I don't think they have based their style on what we do. The part about stealing our songs - or who stole what, was a bit tabloid for me. I would have liked to see more live action and music instead of people explaining what we do. I feel the same way about 99% of the music documentaries. On the other hand there are other parts of Encandilan Luces that are more than okay.
In the documentary, there's also this guy being interviewed who seems to be a prominent character from the folk music circuit. He came across like someone who would just make up an account about seeing you guys but in truth probably never heard you.
I guess he was probably excited about having a film crew from Buenos Aires over and wanted to say something, haha. He was funny though. It is also very Argentine: we love to give our opinions on almost every subject, even if we don't know what the heck we are talking about. Like the sage said "Not knowing never stopped me for having an opinion or something to say." Silence may be wiser but conversation is one of our favorite sports.
Is the fascination for the extraterrestrial that we see in the film really a thing in the pampa, or just a way to avoid becoming bored in those parts. Did any of you experience any UFO sighting in Corrientes of some sort?
I don’t think there's a fascination for that sort of thing more than anywhere else, but yes, rural communities are more open to paranormal encounters. I saw a lot of weird shit when I was living in the country but nothing I can recall as an extraterrestrial technology or UFOs, just weird lights doing crazy things. On a related subject: after a medium or high dose of psilocybin mushrooms you can experience this phenomena that can be described as contact with a non-human intelligence. It's very weird, and witnessing sci-fi motifs is very common in those experiences. Some say it's just part of our brains, our mind dissociation, or an appearance as an other. But maybe the mushroom itself is from outer space. Who knows?