Puerto Rico: Superaquello Explores Cyberspace

Superaquello is one of Puerto Rico‘s most beloved alternative bands.  Their experimental mix of traditional pop, electronic music, and typical Puerto Rican rhythms have hypnotized music lovers since the band was born in 1997. The enchanting voices of Patricia Dávila and Eduardo Alegría, the guitar of Francis Pérez, the bass of Jorge Castro, and Pablo Santiago's keyboard and programming have provided the Puerto Rican musical scene a breath of fresh air. They have shared the stage with well-known groups like Café Tacvba, singer Ely Guerra, both from Mexico, and the Argentinian singer-songwriter Juana Molina.


Photo by A. Garzola, published with permission of Superaquello.

Superaquello has four albums, all of which can be heard on their website: “Mu Psiqui Ta” (2002), “Bien Gorgeous” (2003), “La Emergencia” (2004), and the soundtrack of the movie “Ladrones y Mentirosos” (2006).  These days, their loyal fans anxiously await the arrival of their new album “Superaquello interpreta Latarde,” scheduled to be released on September 18 and 19 at the cultural venue La Respuesta, in Santurce, Puerto Rico.  But lately, Superaquello has been experimenting with something more than music: the Internet. Last Spring, they pre-released half of their new album's songs to be downloaded free on their website. They also have an active Twitter account where they maintain an interesting dialogue with their followers.

“Cuerdo”, by Superaquello.

On behalf of Global Voices, I interviewed the bassist Jorge Castro [ES], who also oversees their website, about the band's incursion into cyberspace.

Global Voices-GV: Why did you decide to offer your music free on the Internet before its official release? Do you know of other Puerto Rican bands that are doing this? What were the public's reactions to this cyberexperiment?

Jorge Castro-JC: The songs could be downloaded for free during three weeks last April. We posted the first half of the CD. We did it because we really wanted to present our new material, because we had not recorded an album since 2005 (even though we did the soundtrack for “Ladrones y Mentirosos” in 2006)… This was the first time we did this and I am not sure if we will do it again. Probably in a couple of years when the model of the music industry completely fails, we may try it again. The public's reaction was very positive. The music was free, so it must have been heard in places that we may never even know of. In the future, surely we will create other projects that will only be offered virtually…I understand that many Puerto Rican bands are doing the same thing. Ignacio Peña, for example, offered a couple of his songs through pulsorock.com, and he is also the first Puerto Rican rock artist with an iPhone application.

GV: Since when do you have a website? I saw that you have all of your songs posted on the site. What benefits have you gained from having such an updated and interactive website?

JC: I am not sure, but I think superaquello.com exists since 2000. The website has been wonderful, we have gained much more than through MySpace or our Facebook account. All of our albums are sold through the website, either you can buy the CD or the MP3, and you can listen to all the songs for free, although in an inferior quality than the original versions. We are lucky that we sell a lot of our albums through the website. It is truly an important space of direct support of artists.

Photo by A. Garzola, published with permission of Superaquello.

GV: You have a very active Twitter account. What do you use it for? What has the use of Twitter offered the band?

JC: Twitter is a very interesting tool to send “micronews”, directly and without the need of intermediaries, to your followers. Of course, everything you write has to be personal. It can't be the same thing that your public relations manager wrote. Each word should come directly from the artist. Our designer Alfonso Arzola wrote an article about this called “Social Media is not Plug & Play” where he talks about the most common errors committed when you do not use these tools correctly.

“Pecho e’ Paloma”, by Superaquello

GV: The Internet is considered a space of freedom that permits the transgression of traditional boundaries, especially regarding music. What do you think about this?

JC: I think that nowadays it's too easy to be everywhere in the Internet. Most of the content is user-generated, and even though this was foretold years ago, few people could envision it. For independent music (that is not supported by major multinational companies) it's a challenge and a blessing at the same time. We are blessed that our music can get to thousands, maybe even millions, of people from all over the world. But it is also a challenge because it is more difficult than ever to stand out when so many artists have access to the same media, from the most famous to the more obscure.  We are lucky that we have a good number of followers, much before the explosion of new media, and the transition has been easy.

1 comment

  • […] Ayer se presentaron en Santurce y cuentan que fue un gran espectáculo. Mi exilio voluntario no me permitió verlos, pero gracias a Frecuencias Alternas pude disfrutar de algunos cortes de su nueva producción, más una buena conversación sobre los nuevos rumbos y cosas del pasado. Aquí les dejo la grabación. De paso, si quieren leer una buena entrevista reciente, échenle una mirada a: Superaquello Explores Cyberspace. […]

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