For duo Raquel Berríos and Luis Alfredo del Valle, the dichotomy of their tropical Puerto Rican roots and the bustling grit of their New York home is a temperament that is self-evident in their music almost immediately. On their most recent EPII, as well as their new single “Frío,” the couple effectively ground their souls and foot-soles into the cityscape they now call home, while the stylistic rhythmics and flavors of their childhood island seep through the cracks–creating a fusion that paints itself starkly against the cold urban skyline. Inspired by the broad musical generalities of Latin culture, Berríos and Del Valle infuse the many tastes of salsa, reggaeton, and others into lush 70’s disco-transplants–and the fire burns as much in their hearts as it does under your feet when listening to it. Self-described as the “Caribbean music of the future,” Buscabulla finds illustrious passion in crashing the two seemingly adverse worlds of Latin and American music by finding the common-ground between–which in particular, is that both are a melting-pot of influences in their own right.
“I think like any Puerto Rican in our generation will tell you, we sort of grew up between two worlds. My mom’s half american, Luis went to an all english school and our influences are just as much Puerto Rican as they are Anglo,” Berríos explained. “But there is a ton of stuff that we are super into, to name a few: 70’s salsa, english-soul, 90’s PR-underground (reggaeton), psych, disco–its pretty mixed. We like to take Caribbean and latin music influences and place them in the now.”
Like the sultry hooks of their music, Puerto Rico has been the song in the background of their lives that Buscabulla has been unable to shake. Although the two both grew up on the island, Berríos and Del Valle wouldn’t meet until they were both already living in New York as budding musicians; the former playing in a “half-baked” folk-punk band that ended up borrowing a drum set from Del Valle. When the all-girl band broke-up, the two found romantic interest in each other and began to collaborate on music–through them, the idea of Puerto Rico and what it meant to them never really faded.
“Puerto Rico is always the main source of inspiration for this project, its music, quirks and symbolisms. New York really opened our eyes to the possibilities, we’ve met and discovered so many inspirational bands and artists we love in this city. We also found the opportunity to grow and develop our music here,” said Berríos. “But it can also be a very challenging place for an artist couple with a daughter; we miss the beach, our families, and the warm weather. Culturally its been amazing– we’ve gotten to really understand all the different cultures and diasporas that exist here, including Nuyoricans which we had always mystified us.”
This culture and climate shock is surmised beautifully on “Frío,” which captures their tropical pining as transplant musicians, but it also never really mourns for anything lost–instead, the bustling rhythmics that they usually deal in are transferred into a sensual percussion trot and the Berríos’ heated murmuring. While on “Tartaro,” another favorite, Berríos’ crooning (which starts emulate Die Antwoord’s Yolandi Visser) bounces bubbly between sparse twangs of percussion and an underbelly of synth echoes. The flourishing passion remains the same throughout their music, however, and is something that Berríos attributes to her mother’s love of the soulful–like Sade, George Michaels, and Al B. Sure! As a result, their live shows are infused with the same sweltering sentiments that their music is inspired by; Berríos promising fans and attendees to expect “a lot of sweat, smooth jazz, and plenty of rolled ‘r’s.”
Words: Steven Ward
Buscabulla will be making their Los Angeles debut at the Echoplex on Feb. 27. The show is presented by KCRW! Tickets are still available here. Visit their website and Facebook to stay updated on new music!