AJ Dávila: Lo-Fi Garage Punk con Garras

Cultura Dura is a Remezcla and Mike’s HARDER content and event series highlighting emerging Latin urban culture. We’ll be exploring scenes that haven’t really gotten any coverage anywhere else – from block parties and street art to underground sports and raw, young artists making movements pa’ la calle.

Garage punk fixture AJ Dávila is seemingly in constant motion. Whether he’s moving his band through the Deep South in the midst of a ten-month long tour, picking up and relocating to Mexico City, or releasing two albums within a year, his impatience and restlessness seems to be paying off.

Just this week Dávila released documentation of his exploration of his darker side with Beibi dropping on Burger Records. Remezcla’s own Paola Capó-García listened in to review the output, concluding that the tracks felt “more determined, more at peace with themselves than those on Terror/Amor.”

I had the chance to chat with Dávila while he made a pit stop en route to Memphis, catching him as he reflected on the new album, the constant growth of San Juan’s vibrant DIY scene, and on his next move of bringing his non-stop tour doctrine to audiences he’s been looking forward to meeting across Latin America.


How would you describe the evolution of your sound on the new album compared to Terror/Amor?
They are two sorts of albums– for me, Terror/Amor is my baby. I love that album with all my heart; composition-wise I think that’s my best album. Beibi is my dark side, it’s more raw, it’s more lo-fi, it’s really psychedelic. I love crazy shit so I think Beibi takes all that darkness but at the same time it has a soft quality that’s my trademark of my sounds. I love catchy songs; I’m a sucker for hooks.

How does that shift translate to your live show?
It’s more punk rock and wild when you play the sounds live– it’s savage. I think it’s a more raw record so you’ve got all that energy when you go up on stage.

You’ve recently made the switch back to working with California-based label Burger Records. How’s that experience been?
It’s been really great because I’ve worked with Burger Records since Dávila 666 days in 2008, they’re like family. The new album we’ve been planning for four or five years, it’s an album we tried for years to make. Even before I was on Nacional I had this record with sounds I’ve been working with for years. Burger Records is our family just as much as Nacional is our family too– it’s great to have two amazing record labels behind you.

I’m glad that people are noticing what’s happening right now in Puerto Rico, because what we’re seeing is really special.

Thanks to the critical success of Terror/Amor and now Beibi, do you see more attention being drawn to the scene in San Juan?
I always like to say that that right now the music scene in San Juan is one of the best– the quality and the quantity of the music that we have right now is amazing. People are seeing what’s happening in Puerto Rico; there’s so much happening over there.

Over the years there’s been all this attention paid to what’s happening in Chile, Mexico, you know, and I’m glad that people are noticing what’s happening right now in Puerto Rico because what we’re seeing is really special. There’s bands like Campo-Formio, Alegría Rampante, Reanimadores, Álvarito Díaz, who’s a great friend. There’s so many good bands; the kids are really hungry so all these new bands are coming now. It’s great.

In a previous interview with Remezcla, you mentioned that you were hoping to reach more audiences in Latin America through your upcoming releases. Do you feel like you’ve achieved this?
We’ve made our career in the United States singing in Spanish, so for me since Dávila 666 it’s been normal to play in the States in all of these music scenes. I feel like now the dream is to play in Latin America because they actually understand what I’m saying.

We’re playing in Mexico a lot and soon we’re going for the first time to Argentina, so I think it’s happening– more people in Latin America are paying attention to what we’re doing now, especially now that we’ll soon have the chance to tour and play over there. I love it.