The Refresh: Frankie Reyes is the Boricua Producer Reimagining Boleros With Synths

We’ve paired up with Hennessy V.S for a brand new series called The Refresh, where we’ll be documenting and highlighting Latino artists who nurture their craft by experimenting with traditional or folkloric sounds in contemporary ways. With their innovative reimaginings of classic styles, these artists are redefining Latino identity as we know it.

In its first installment, The Refresh features the music of Gabriel Reyes-Whittaker (aka Frankie Reyes), a Boricua producer who uses synthesizers as a means to explore his Latinidad. Reyes, who also records as Gifted & Blessed, debuted this year on legendary Los Angeles imprint Stones Throw with Boleros Valses y Más, an outstanding 12-track album where he reinterprets Latin American standards he grew up listening to, including well-known waltz, bolero, and son numbers like “La Flor de la Canela” using only an Oberheim synth.

As a kid, Reyes was exposed to the songbook of Latin America, as well as funk and other synth-based genres. In this way, Frankie’s synths almost function like time machines – musical devices he can use to travel to the past and the future.