Sporting bright red nail polish and a feather earring, he sits crisscrossed on a park bench. On other days, he wears a flower behind his ear or a touch of lipstick. From first glimpse, it is clear that Gonzalo Garcia is not one to blend in.
Photo by Pablo Reyes
But conformity can hardly be expected of the lead singer and principal writer of Planeta No, a punk-pop band from Concepción. Garcia is uniquely his own individual, who brings to the musical process strong ideas of interpersonal connection and challenges to normality. Even the band’s name suggests uniqueness—inspired by Dr. No from the first Bond movie, the band members picked the name to celebrate the character’s position as the only non-gringo character in the film.
These ideas, combined with upbeat, danceable sounds reminiscent of 80’s pop and punk and a mix of English and Chilean influences, have led to the sound and style that is Planeta No.
Including fellow musicians Camilo Molina and Juan Pablo Garin, the group has experienced increased recognition since its start in 2010. Fresh off their performance at Lollapalooza Chile 2016, the band is preparing for its next big appearance at the Primavera Sound music festival in Spain. At the same time, they continue to play small venues around Santiago.
Garcia sings at Levantando Polvo. Photo by Allison Thompson
“It doesn't really matter that much where we play, just that we do it well,” says Garcia. "Lollapolooza or Primavera Sound just have different characteristics, but they are still another day in our lives.”
Indeed, Garcia tries to remain unchanged by the band’s recent successes, and still considers the group as relatively unknown. “I’m still the same person and I want it to stay that way,” he explains. To Garcia, the focus should remain on the music and not on the individual artists. Fame, he says, can be damaging , and does not wish it for himself.
Garcia continues to pursue his implicit goal of using the musical process to connect himself with others. Wary of an increasingly individualistic society, he writes confessional-style lyrics to express his personal ideologies to the listener, thereby involving them in his thought process.
The recent release of the single El Campo, with accompanying photos and art mock-ups, for free download was also done to increase transparency and show listeners the creative procedure behind the music. “We want to show everything that happens so that people can learn from our errors and what we did right,” Garcia says. “I think that helps to strengthen a better cultural collective .”
Music videos, such as those for Sol a Sol and Señorita, reach out to the audience and highlight the lives of those underrepresented in the predominant culture, such as transsexuals and the lower classes.
Photo by Pablo Reyes
But contradicting the established cultural system through music is not a conscious effort by the band. “If you really don´t like the system and you live in a form that is contrary to the system, just by existing you are helping to create change,” Garcia explains. This philosophy accounts for Garcia’s occasional lipstick and nail polish, as he calls gender categorizations into question with these accessories.
With fun, 80s-inspired punk pop and sincere sentiments, Planeta No offers a unique take on music that is gradually gaining more listeners. Come what may, the group remains committed to offering genuine music to its fans. “If you’re going to write songs,” says Garcia, “Think about who you are, what role you play in the community you’re born in, and what is the possibility of doing something good.”