Grupo Frontera_‘Ojitos Rojos’

INTERVIEW: Grupo Frontera’s Cumbia Norteña Hits Are Borderless

Photo by Domingo Rivera.

Grupo Frontera is bringing regional Mexican music into the mainstream. The Mexican-American band has scored global hits with “No Se Va” and “Bebe Dame” alongside Fuerza Regida. A year after forming, Grupo Frontera announced their El Comienzo Tour, which will visit cities across the U.S. this spring. In an interview with Remezcla, the guys talked about their success, the stories behind their songs, and the upcoming tour.

The members of Grupo Frontera are based in McAllen, TXs. The band lives up to its name with its cumbia norteña music reflecting the sound of life on the border between Texas and Mexico. “[Our music represents] where we’re from,” Grupo Frontera’s percussionist Julian Peña Jr. tells Remezcla. “It’s who we are. We live on the border. We have family in Tamaulipas and Nuevo León.”

Grupo Frontera uploaded their first song as a band to YouTube on Feb. 16, 2022. It wasn’t until they released their cumbia-infused cover of Morat’s “No Se Va” a few months later that they started to receive attention. Like with most of Grupo Frontera’s recent hits, their success has come from people replaying their music on TikTok. “We released the song, but it didn’t quite hit until a month or two months after on TikTok,” lead singer Adelaido “Payo” Solis III says. “That’s when we started getting all the calls. When everything started taking off. It feels like it’s been more time, but everything that has happened to us just within a year, which is why we say it feels like it’s been an overnight change.”

Grupo Frontera’s momentum has continued going strong into this year. In Dec., the guys joined forces with another Mexican-American band, Fuerza Regida, for “Bebe Dame.” The song was included on the former’s album Sigan Hablando. The sexy cumbia banger has become both groups’ biggest hit yet, reaching No. 25 on the all-genre Billboard Hot 100 chart. “I believe that’s one of the best experiences we’ve had,” Payo says. “They sent us the song one day before, and we recorded it the next day in one take. JOP [Fuerza Regida’s lead singer Jesús Ortiz Paz] arrived with all his people, and we were all partying, basically. We sang it with all our might. It was very amazing! Those guys are very hype but humble.”

On the heels of “Bebe Dame,” Grupo Frontera again entered the top 50 of the Billboard Hot 100 chart with “Que Vuelvas,” this time teaming up with rising Mexican singer Carin León. In the more norteña-leaning love song, they sing their hearts about the one that got away. “We got a call one day saying Carin wants to do a song with us, and we all fangirled,” Payo says. “We were all very excited. He’s a very nice person. He’s very humble as well.” Juan Javier Cantú, who also sings in Grupo Frontera, adds, “We took some shots with him. It was fun!”

With “No Se Va” currently still charting on the Hot 100, Grupo Frontera made history as the first regional Mexican music act to place three songs on the chart. The guys are pushing the genre to new places while breaking records. “All of the Latino community is supporting the cumbia genre, and that makes us happy,” Cantú says. “It’s not only in Mexico where they’re listening to us. It’s all over Latin America. Yesterday they told us that people were playing our music in Puerto Rico as well. It’s incredible!”

“[E]verything that has happened to us just within a year, which is why we say it feels like it’s been an overnight change.”

Now Grupo Frontera will be taking all their hits on the road for their El Comienzo Tour. The tour kicks off in San Antonio on April 20. They will be touring the U.S. throughout the year, with the last concert taking place at the Microsoft Theater in L.A. on Nov. 25. “There’s going to be special guests,” Payo says. “There’s going to be a lot of dancing!” Cantú adds. “Since it’s our first tour, we’re going to give all of ourselves to our audience with everything. It’s going to be the best show that we can give,” Payo adds.

Grupo Frontera are currently hard at work on their debut EP. Earlier this month, the band embraced the sound of Tejano music with their latest single, “Di Que Sí,” featuring Marca Registrada. The lovelorn song was inspired by the classic “Desvelado” by Mexican-American icon Bobby Pulido. Like Pulido, Grupo Frontera wants to leave a lasting legacy with their music.

“We want to make history!” Peña Jr. says. “We want to make that kind of history where 20 years from now, somebody is listening to Grupo Frontera in their backyard during their barbeque and everything.”