Sintra is a city in Portugal that has been nominated a UNESCO world heritage site on account of it’s enduring, Romantic architecture surrounded by prodigious greenery. The Chilean band, Sintra, takes their name from this city of soul and beauty.
Photo by Matt Bostock
In reality, this isn’t the first incarnation of Sintra, but a band formed from the remnants of the original group. The band originally started up in the mid 90’s, when it was even more difficult for an unsigned band to gain popularity than it is today. The opportunities for self-promotion via the Internet and home recording just did not exist.
Today there is a definite lack of places for unsigned bands to play live in Santiago, but fifteen years ago this dearth was even more pronounced. The band put out cassettes in the past with a couple of tracks, passed hand to hand. They split up after awhile, but decided to re-group and do it right. They are recording their official first full studio album – and they are very excited.
Sintra’s sound is a bluesy rock. They count soul and rock and roll among their influences, bands like Small Faces, Otis Redding, The Supremes, The Animals and The Who to name a few.
Rodrigo, aka Yo Yo, is the songwriter, singer and guitarist. Most of his lyrics are in Spanish, but some are in English. He says that it’s hard to write in Spanish sometimes, for phonetic reasons.
“Obviously you can write stupid crap in English just as easily as in Spanish,” he jokes, but for him Spanish takes longer to find the right word. When he’s not writing or performing, Yo Yo can be found teaching music in schools and homes.
José Luis Saavedra – “el flaco” – takes care of the bass section, and fills his free time with pursuing a law degree. The soft-spoken Italo Araus bangs out the rhythm on the drums, and fills on backing vocals. Maria Luz is on saxophone, standing shyly off to the side of the stage. Victor Hernandez is the keyboardist of the quintet – a group that would be bigger if they could find the right musicians.
Off stage, they are funny, warm and talkative. Their positive vibe is easily felt emanating from the stage, where they knock out tight, rhythmic jams, dressed sharply in suits and evening wear.
Sintra’s songs deal with the same thing as a lot of popular music, love and the end of love - a universal theme. But they look for a unique perspective, finding angles to develop through their own lens.
Although no longer adolescents, as they laughingly point out, they still have the energy of kids that age, both on stage and off. While recording their first album, they have already envisioned their second, planning everything ahead of time.
Working with Estudio Primate to put out their albums, they plan to play many more live shows and, of course, use the Internet to promote the music. Cuts of their jams can be found on their MySpace page, and their album should be available to download soon.
They say the cordillera keeps them in place, walled in, inside of Chile. Unlike the mid 90’s, the virtual world might help them break through the walls, and carry their music to other places – the rest of South America and beyond.