Lara Artesi and Roque Ferrari connect with me via Skype from a residence in Buenos Aires. As our conversation begins, the pair shares a drink from a rusty tin cup. The Argentine duo, known to most as Coral Casino, is gearing up for the release of their latest offering Lejos, a 9-track EP that draws on influences from R&B, house, and trap. “Our expectations for the new project are to be more sincere, to be more R&B, and to showcase clearer voices that are more confident and comfortable than before.”
If lead single “Baby” is any indication, the duo is well on their way to fulfilling that promise to themselves and their growing legion of eager listeners. Shot in Mexico in collaboration with local netlabel Finesse Records, the song’s accompanying video is a testament to the push-and-pull that fiery relationships and carnal mishaps can inspire.
In it, Lara is crestfallen in a white SUV as Roque sits in a wooden chair bloodied, with his limbs restrained. Over the course of the next three minutes, the prologue to the tragic end of their fatal romance is fleshed out. Roque, or at least the character he plays, has found himself with a lover outside of his relationship. “Algo salió mal,” he coos with resignation. “Pero no me arrepiento.”
Soon, his misdeeds catch up to him and Lara smacks him around one last time before dousing him in gas and lighting a fateful match. Using imagery that draws on Kanye West’s “Flashing Lights,” the video showcases Coral Casino’s gift for penning songs that highlight the prideful pitfalls of modern love. That talent has taken them from their native Argentina to Mexico City, where last fall, they nabbed a coveted co-sign from Finesse and worked on refining the sound of Lejos.
“We’re in a moment where we wanted to put out an R&B project, and we’d been listening to Jesse [Baez],” Lara explains. “And we went to Mexico to perform and we felt like a part of the Finesse Records family.”
Roque adds, “We’re working together for this project because the truth is, for an R&B project, it makes the most sense and it’s cool to work with artists that have their hands in the scene.”
It’s a welcome collaboration for Coral Casino, who, since their start in 2014, found fans with the lover’s reggaeton of “Summer Romance.” The single was one of Remezcla’s favorite songs of 2016, an apt introduction for anyone still sleeping on Coral Casino’s sonic universe – one that is equal parts moonlit metropolis and breezy beachfront.
Even as Coral Casino garnered attention for their softer, introspective dembow textures, the duo sometimes felt out of place in an Argentine scene where urbano genres like R&B and dancehall are still seen as a novelty.
“Every time we perform in Argentina we feel less out of place, but when we started there wasn’t a real scene,” Roque tells Remezcla after a smile and a sip. “In some moments early on, it was frustrating performing at shows where we didn’t fit in, but now there is more of an exchange of ideas between alternative artists [in Argentina] and we feel more respected.”
As the pieces fall into place, their upcoming EP feels like their most self-assured undertaking yet, and situates Coral Casino inside the budding wave of R&B singers embracing their Latinx roots – even if they’re unsure of committing to the genre past this project.
At 9 tracks, the EP is laced with loss, lust, and longing. Opener “María” is an early standout; Lara’s muted chanting is hypnotic and heavy-lidded, and speaks to the otherworldly, celestial forces at play when the right people find each other at the wrong time.
“Dímelo” finds the group looking back to the shores of the ocean for inspiration, an almost aquatic dance track whose video, released today, explores what’s left of a dying romance. “Noches,” like its name might suggest, is a tempered-down take on the madrugadas spent clamoring for another chance.
As a whole, Coral Casino’s latest work feel more polished and primed to make a splash, as spring approaches and 2018 kicks into gear.
“Videos are coming, music is coming, Coral Casino is coming,” Roque says after a tip of his hat and a quick glance over at Lara. “We’re ready to put Argentina on the map.”