KUTX is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month by highlighting some of our favorite performances from Hispanic musicians from Austin and beyond.
Hearing Cuco for the first time quickly went from, “Hey, this is really good. Who is this person?” To, “Oh god, I’m out of touch.” With over one billion streams on Spotify alone, an artist as good as Cuco seems impossible to miss. While I was probably busy organizing my Neil Young 8-tracks I’m sure he’s been on your radar for a while. Emerging back in 2015 while he was still in high school with an appropriately sleepy cover of Santo & Johnny’s “Sleepwalk.”
SoCal native Omar “Cuco” Banos isn’t the only Gen Z whose lo-fi bedroom pop launched a meteoric rise into global stardom, but he is emblematic of what makes his generation’s art so fascinating. The effortless eclecticism on his recently released sophomore record, Fantasy Gateway, could only be created by someone who never had cultural or geographic limitations on the music they had access to. The bouncing bassline on “Aura” recalls the euphoria of hearing Tame Impala’s Currents for the first time, but his laidback delivery is more akin to the Chicano rappers he grew up listening to like Lil Rob. The music passed down from his parents, who immigrated to Inglewood, CA from Mexico City, is also embraced throughout the record. Like on “Sitting In the Corner,” Cuco enters with a dramatic grito over a unique psychedelic/norteño mashup featuring both Adriel Favela and Kacey Musgraves.
There could not have been a better artist to begin Hispanic Heritage month than Cuco. Not only is Fantasy Gateway a great record to bring to any celebration, but it’s a record that could not exist without the generational intermingling of Mexican and American cultures. Cuco is both and neither, creating something entirely new without effacing the traditions of his parent’s hometown or his own.
Musicians: Omar Banos – Vocals; Fernando Carbajal – Guitar; Esai Salas – Bass; Julian Farias – Drums
Producer: Deidre Gott and Peter Babb
Cameras: Rabid Robot Studios
Edit: Gabriel C. Pérez
Audio Engineers: Jake Perlman; Rene Chavez
Audio Mix: Rene Chavez
New album: Fantasy Gateway out now on Interscope Records