Even though they’re from Colombia and do not sing a word of English, Aterciopelados (which translates as “the Velvety Ones”) are straight out of the rock-and-roll playbook of the America of the late 1960s. With her Joan Baez-ish long hair, a hand-painted acoustic guitar, and an overriding desire to campaign against social injustice, lead singer Andrea Echeverri has picked our old hippie culture as a role model. She sings about things such as ecology and immigration law. It was like that here in the ’60s too, when our own pop culture spoke out in protest of the draft, the president, the Vietnam War, and so much more.
Via email (and with the help of an interpreter) I ask Echeverri why the American pop of today has, for the most part, backed off on the whole notion of protest.
“Maybe this type of music is more difficult now to write and sell. The music is out there, but it is just not that popular. This is due to the different media outlets — such as the radio and mass media in general — which are overly concerned about ratings and popularity. Today, whatever is sexual is most popular.”
Essentially two people (Echeverri and her recording/writing/performing partner Hector Buitrago), Aterciopelados released their first CD in 1993. The next seven CDs would bounce all over the place, musically, from traditional Colombian to electronica to folk to punk. Of late, Echeverri’s sometimes-ethereal voice has taken on a meatier, more grounded feel. On keeping the faith and retaining your pop-icon status, Echeverri says, “Aterciopelados’ music isn’t at the top of the charts. Even though this is all I do, people still ask me at streetlights and supermarkets why I’m not singing anymore. It seems as though if you don’t have a massive hit like [our] ‘Bolero Falaz’ that the majority of people think you don’t exist.”
ATERCIOPELADOS: House of Blues, Tuesday, April 14, 7:30 p.m. 619-299-2583. $20.50 and $40.50.