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Guest DJ With Adrian Quesada, A Man Who Needs Four Bands

Adrian Quesada of Ocote Soul Sounds, Brownout Presents Brown Sabbath, The Echocentrics, and Spanish Gold.
Courtesy of the artist
Adrian Quesada of Ocote Soul Sounds, Brownout Presents Brown Sabbath, The Echocentrics, and Spanish Gold.

Adrian Quesada has a restless artistic vision — so much so that he needs four bands to accommodate his musical ideas, as well as a handful of producing gigs to help other artists realize their sound.

The Austin musician and producer is Alt.Latino's latest Guest DJ. We asked him on the show in hopes of gleaning some insights into that most ethereal of music-industry gigs: record producer. It's a role that's part therapist, part conductor, part visionary and part techno geek. Here, Quesada gives us a peek into the music and culture that forms the DNA of his bands — including Brownout Presents Brown Sabbath, a Latin funk outfit that's currently getting its Ozzy on.

Like many of the artists we feature on Alt.Latino, Quesada is the product of a bi-cultural Latino environment: Musica Tejana rubbed elbows with hip-hop for this child of the MTV generation who grew up on the U.S./Mexico border. To me, the music he makes with his bands (or while producing others) has a soft, almost unnoticeable accent, sort of like my grandfather's. My grandfather was fluent in English, but his rural New Mexico roots were always present in his speech.

That influence is obvious in a band like Grupo Fantasma, the retro cumbia and rock outfit that, until recently, Quesada helped lead for many years. But I can also hear it in the mellow, spacey funk romp of Ocote Soul Sounds, a studio project he developed with fellow visionary Martin Perna of Antibalas.

Can I slow the music down and pinpoint exactly how that influence manifests itself in his music? Not really, but I can feel it, and it makes me look forward to each and every release from Ocote. And Brownout. And The Echocentrics. And Spanish Gold.

So sit back and listen to Adrian Quesada talk about his music. Along the way, we'll spin some of the amazing songs he brought in to share with us.

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Felix Contreras is co-creator and host of Alt.Latino, NPR's pioneering radio show and podcast celebrating Latin music and culture since 2010.