Jaialai’s frontman talks new music, plans for vinyl full length — a III Points profile

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Photo by Adrian Salas

Miami band Jaialai could very well be the saviors for Miami’s rock music scene. The quartet formed in 2016 blending a mix of influences — from alternative, including shoegaze and psych-rock — to more sophisticated elements of Latin rock and the best of classic rock that once dominated pop radio in the ‘70s. During a short set the other night at Gramps, the young men, who all hail from various parts of Latin America, played a tight, short set of their repertoire, including some new music.

With a stellar light show that includes images ranging from scrolling panoramas of the South Florida suburbs and more abstract elements like kaleidoscopic capsules of color projected onto the group, the band tear into their brand new single, “In the Catacombs” (you can  stream it on Spotify now). It’s a potent, noisy track that reveals the group enthusiastically embracing their talents. It opens on a grooving bass line by Mario Lemus and a driving beat with powerful fills by drummer Richard “Ricky” Boullon. Singer/guitarist Oscar Sardiñas ups his usually smooth, tuneful vocals to rough-edged howls atop the dueling guitar squonk of Jose “Jovi” Adames and Sardiñas’ licks. They also capped their set with a new shredder of a song called, “Culebra.” If this new music is any indication, Jaialai is highly energized and ready to take their music to the next level.

Photo by Reni Arias

The band are scheduled to make their second appearance in a row at the III Points multimedia festival this Sunday. The festival has built its reputation on giving local artists a high profile stage alongside globally recognized acts. This year, Jaialai will be able to bring their stadium-sized enthusiasm to the Mind Melt stage, where headliners like Blood Orange and Erykah Badu will appear later that day. Last III Points, we began a series that highlighted three local artists, all of whom will make return appearances this year:

Jaialai cap off this year’s trio of profiles:

As it’s been a hectic week in Miami’s music scene for all involved, Jaialai’s singer volunteered to take questions via email. Sardiñas got back to me just yesterday, a day after tearing up the Gramps stage during Haute Tension’s weekly Haute Happy Hour, and here is what he has to say about everything from the band’s very Miami name, their influences and plans for a vinyl release of their first full-length album.

Photo by Reni Arias

Hans Morgenstern: Why did you claim Jaialai as a band name, and have people confused you for a sport playing at a bar?

Oscar Sardiñas: People have confused our name or at least the pronunciation like 90 percent of the time, haha. We were once put on a flyer as Hialeah! I guess the pronunciation is similar. We took our name from said sport. My family on my mother’s side is Basque though, so it’s all good!

What’s the songwriting process like for you all as a collective? Is there a main songwriter?

Usually a member comes in with an idea. A riff or a progression, sometimes a full song is written beforehand with chords and melody then the band jumps in and arranges it. [I] write the vocal parts and lyrics then, after everyone gives a song a thumbs up, it joins the batch!

When I saw you at The Anderson, I remember quite a light show. What are your plans for III Points?

Our lips are sealed about that! Our lighting extraordinaire Miki Humo likes to be under wraps about his new designs, but he’s constantly changing and evolving them. But to answer that: yes! Definitely more lightsss!

I’m attracted to the shoegaze/dreamy quality of your music (Swervedriver comes to mind, specifically). Are there specific bands from that genre any of you guys admire?

So many! I feel elements of shoegaze have crept into non-self-proclaimed shoegaze groups for awhile. Slowdive, DIIV, Sonic Youth, The Verve, The Horrors … so many … the lords are My Bloody Valentine, in my opinion. But that’s a deep, deep genre. Gotta listen to more Swervedriver!

Photo by Andrew Martinez

Your new song “In the Catacombs” rocks harder than any of your previous songs. Where did that spirit and energy emerge from?

Mario came in with the bass riff, we started jamming it, and the whole thing kinda came out, poof! Right there! Even lyrics, well, most of them.

I found “Chariot” had a bit of a progressive rock quality (maybe a Rush vibe there)? Are any of you into prog?

I think I know specifically the section of the song you’re talking about. If it’s that bit before the outro then it was intended to sound like The Who, which I guess went prog in the ‘70s! I feel prog is divisive. I do love ELO though! Tough to pinpoint that genre because I feel, in that era, who wasn’t doing something “progressive”?

Specific to Miami, there’s also a breezy quality to your music. The patient guitar solo at the end of “Hold the Phone” recalls Santana (who gets the credit for that?). You all are Latin-American. Do you think maybe that’s where the chiller vibe comes from: Latin music?

Definitely there are Latin influences throughout our music. I think “Broken Satellite” has a Cerati feel to it and even some stuff on the new album. I can definitely see the chill beachy vibe “Hold the Phone” has. Jovi crafted and recorded that solo, which tbh, to me sounded like Joe Walsh when I first heard it. I felt a kinda ’70s breezy California highway vibe on that part … but a lot of those bands channeled Latin influences at some point too … like Joe Walsh on his band’s biggest hit. (-:

Rock music isn’t exactly relevant anymore (so unfortunate!). Greta Van Fleet just won a Grammy beating geezers like Alice in Chains and Weezer, so there’s hope for new bands, but what sort of recognition do you all hope for as rock musicians trying to make it the music industry?

I hope that isn’t true. Hopefully it’s just a lull or something. I think modern rock lacks a bit of the general relatability and hooks the “classic” stuff had. Maybe it’s an art school aversion to being pop. I don’t know. No comment on Greta, lol. Speaking of prog and Greta, it’s funny how they don’t cite their main influence, they’re very good at dodging that question. As far as recognition, I hope people truly feel something in our songs, but that’s kinda out of our control. I get spooked by the crystal ball, haha. But I think if we put love and thought into what we write, the music will be true.

Rock as complex as yours was built for a full-length album. Do you have plans for one?

Oh, yes! Funny you should ask … we’re releasing an album this April! Our very first!

I would expect to see it released on vinyl. Are you admirers of the format? If so or not, why or why not?

We absolutely are to both questions. Vinyl is great on so many levels! The artwork, packaging and personal keepsakes a lot of albums have had in the past and present make them works of art! Plus they sound great. Love the crackle when it starts, but honestly I’ve always wanted to physically hold a vinyl of ours. I think that will feel lovely. Like, OK, here’s our album!

Hans Morgenstern

Jaialai will take the Mind Melt stage at III Points, Sunday, Feb. 17, at 6:15 p.m. For tickets visit this link (though by now they may only be available at the door)

(Copyright 2019 by Independent Ethos. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)

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