Overcoming unexpected adversity in their continued quest for success around the world is a powerful journey for anyone who’s dedicated to continuing their dream. The members of the distinctive Latin electro rock band, Icaro del Sol proved just that when they were again chosen to perform in person at this year’s SXSW in Austin this past March.
The Santiago, Chile-based group, which is comprised of vocalist-drummer, Sebastián Valenzuela and vocalist-guitarist, Francisco Soto, was chosen to perform at the Texas-based festival this year, after they were selected as an official artist to perform at showcases during SXSW 2020. The band was selected to promote one of its most introspective works of its catalog, its 2019 third studio album, ‘La Luna Estalló,’ which was inspired by the history of Chilean hip-hop, during the festival two years ago.
But the 2020 edition of SXSW was cancelled a week before it was scheduled to begin in March of that year, due to the growing concerns of the then-emerging COVID-19 pandemic and lowdowns being instated across the U.S. Icaro del Sol was invited back to the festival, which resumed in-person events this year, during which the duo performed at Low Down and Chess Club in Austin.
Valenzuela and Soto generously took the time to participate in an exclusive interview during SXSW. Among other things, the musicians discussed that they’ve been performing together in bands since they were teenagers, and with Icaro del Sol as their current group, they like to infuse their latest songs with a variety of concepts that are now common in music. The duo also expressed their gratitude that their fellow musicians, as well as their fans, from across North and South America were so excited to see them perform during this year’s SXSW.
ShockYa (SY): Together, you play in the Latin electro rock band, Icaro del Sol. What inspired you to pursue music as a career, and form the group?
Francisco Soto (FS): Like many musicians, we started as kids; I started when I was around 10. What I think is very special is that we were brought together in a band when we were around 15. We have been playing together since then in several bands; I think this is the fourth band that we’ve formed. Sebastián has always been on the drums, and I’ve always been on the guitar in the different bands.
We’ve always had different guitarists, and either three or four members. But now, we’re a duo, and we use electronics, samples and a variety of concepts that are now common in music. We manage to make music and perform shows with just the two of us.
With this band, we’ve had a lot of growth, as we’ve been learning different styles. Our base genre is more rock-n-roll, but we’ve also grown into electronic, funk and a little bit of jazz, so that we can expand our musical abilities. So this band is a result of all our experiences, which started a long time ago, and are very special to us.
SY: Once you formed Icaro del Sol together, what has the experience been like of writing the songs for the group together?
FS: We both work on pieces of the music. My parts are based on the guitar, but they can also be a key word or a small piece of music. When I get an idea, I’ll send it to Sebastián, and he’ll process it, add a melody and send it back. Or sometimes, Sebastián will have a whole song ready, and I’ll just add the guitar in, or vice versa. So there are several ways that we create our songs.
Although some songs are almost completely written by me or Sebastián, most of the time we share the writing duties. Finally, it ends up with a nice mix of our two different capabilities.
Some other bands mainly create songs while they’re rehearsing, but we don’t do that too much. More often, we come up with ideas when we’re playing on our own. We create something in the computer and it sounds good, which form the ideas for our songs.
Sebastián Valenzuela (SV): We’ve known each other for so many years that we can complete each other’s sentences. We’re a good complement for each other because we know each other’s style. A lot of ideas go into the trash, but the work in process is very fluid. Our process works because our ideas really blend together. The writing process is fast for us because we know each other, and what our musical tastes are.
SY: What are your plans on how you’ll release your latest songs? Will you be releasing a record this year?
SV: We may be releasing an EP later this year.
FS: We may take five or six songs and release them as an EP. We don’t know if making a full-length album right now is a good idea because it takes a long time to process all of the material. So we’re hopping to finish the EP by the end of the year. We don’t exactly how we’ll do it, or where we’ll record it, but we’re hoping to start the process soon.
We already have two songs, and small pieces of other music that may become full songs. We’re also capturing some new styles; one of our recent songs has more of a Latin or Reggaeton drum bases. That’s very different than what we’ve been doing on our other songs. It also has a little bit of rock and relaxing sounds.
We feel like we can explore those styles of music because we’re very involved in that in our country. It’s interesting to finally be a rock band, and add some Latin and hip-hop vibes that can be more surprising.
SY: What has the experience been like of attending SXSW this year as an official showcase musician?
FS: (The duo performed during its two SXSW showcases after the interview,) so we don’t have any feedback from the audience yet. But there are the people who know us from Chile and other countries are very excited about our visit to the festival, which brings a lot of interest to the band.
We know some other bands from Chile here, as well as bands from Mexico, so we’re going to go see them perform. We’ll also excited to get to know some other musicians and bands while we’re here. When we play, we’ll probably have some opinions about our band, which can lead us to go to other festivals, including in Mexico, Argentina, Columbia and even more here. So it’s a very big step for us, and it’s been exciting to be able, to play here, as part of the American music industry. So for us, this is an excellent experience.
SY: How would you describe your performance style while you’re performing at shows during festivals like SXSW?
FS: We have a very modern show because we’re only a duo. We only have drums and guitar, and the rest are samples of the bass, keys and some voices. While the band is small, we have a lot of power and good beats when we play our songs. We also aim to have people start dancing, and hope people like our approach,