To quote the immortal words of Banarama, it’s been a cruel summer. Once again, we’ve been offered ample time to stay inside and lament the relentless march of new things to worry about, but if you take a moment to pause the doom-scrolling you’ll find that 2022 has been an incredible year for music. We’re beginning to hear what all our favorite artists were working on during the last time we were all stuck inside, and it’s no surprise that many of the best releases were homegrown right here in Austin, TX. Among the busiest members of the Austin Music Experience were the members of Grupo Fantasma and their many friends across the world. Last year Grupo’s Beto Martinez and John Speice worked with a few other very talented Austinites to introduce many of us to the beautiful world of Chicha on their new project Money Chicha. Little did we know it wasn’t the only thing they cooked up during the pandemic.
In the summer of 2020, after months of isolation Martinez and Spiece began jamming at Lechehouse Music Studios with Alex Chavez (of Chicago-based experimental quintet Dos Santos) and Victor “El Guámbito” Cruz (Nemegata). They’ve all collaborated together for years on each other’s individual projects, but Caramelo Haze is their first official band together. Each of them is an accomplished producer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist in their own right so their debut NOESTASAQUÍ‘s greatness was an inevitability.
Austinites know the Grupo Fantasma family tree conjures genius melds of the sounds we love with Latin American music genres unfamiliar to us. It’s always a beautiful celebration of each culture’s unique offering that enriches the soul by pointing out their common ground. It never fails to remind one of music’s singular ability to bring disparate communities together. Caramelo Haze continues this beautiful harmony of global sounds grooving between Afro-Columbian folk, South Texas soul, psychedelic Americana, and the soaring highland sounds of Central Mexico. We were honored to be the venue of their first live performance ever, we hope you enjoy the videos below.
NOESTASAQUI out now on National Records
Follow Caramelo Haze
Beto Martínez – Guitar; Alex Chavez – vocals, keys, synth; Victor Cruz- percussion; John Speice – Drums; Cesar Valencia – Bass
Host: Ryan Wen
Producer: Deidre Gott
Cameras: Michael Minasi, Karina Lujan
Edit: Karina Lujan
Audio Engineers: Jake Perlman; Rene Chavez; Juan C. Alvarez