The art for Rudy De Anda‘s first full-length record is a scene of a cemetery in daylight. If you just glance at it quickly, you could easily miss the figure of De Anda lying face down in the grass. De Anda worked on the cover with a photographer friend. “We kind of liked how subtle it looks,” he comments over the phone from his home in Long Beach. It’s an appropriate gateway to Delay, Cadaver of a Day, an album of scintillating, enigmatic guitar pop, premiering exclusively on Remezcla. Recorded with his three band members – multi-instrumentalist J.P. Bendzinski, bassist Lily Stretz, and drummer Anthony Vezirian – the songs vary widely in structure and volume, but are tied together by a distinctly Southern California moodiness: light but heavy, warm in the sun, but shivery in the shade. It’s undoubtedly psychedelic, but there’s no one scene or genre you can peg it to, which adds to the pleasantly disorienting effect.
It’s a close analog to De Anda’s personality: On the phone, he is soft-spoken and easygoing, but chooses his words with care and he possesses a wit so dry you could miss it completely. Live, his baby face and warm smile are haunted by moments of intensity. Like its creator, the album is very much a product of Southern California. In many ways, it’s specifically a product of the City of Long Beach, where the first generation Mexican-American grew up and still flourishes creatively. It’s a place where the singer, guitarist, and songwriter is able to exist as part of overlapping and connected scenes, his music’s mix of influences uniquely fostered by the various knots of musical culture that dot Los Angeles County.
The coastal city is the former home of landmark punk label SST Records, as well as the birthplace of Snoop Dogg and Warren G. Today it houses De Anda’s record label, a DIY operation called Porch Party Records, as well as a thriving young hip-hop scene anchored by Vince Staples. De Anda was born in LA, but his family relocated to Long Beach when their house burned down during the 1992 Los Angeles riots. He sees it as something positive coming out of something tragic, because he would otherwise have grown up in a tougher environment. “I don’t think I’d be a musician if I didn’t grow up here,” he says.
He got involved in the punk scene in Long Beach and started playing in bands at young age, learning to play guitar by ear. “Once we started to figure out that it was right outside of our door and you could just go to DIY shows, there was no turning back,” he says. Later on, he would frequent LA’s storied hip-hop and electronic club night Low End Theory.
De Anda embarked on his solo project at a moment when his now dormant band Wild Pack of Canaries was losing steam with encouragement from his friend, Grammy-winning keyboardist Ikey Owens. De Anda recalls, “Ikey found out that I had all these other songs and he invited me to record and it turned into an EP.” Sadly, Owens died of a heart attack while on tour with Jack White in Mexico, shortly before that first EP, titled Ostranenie, was released. De Anda was already at work on the full-length when it happened. “The record was delayed, in a way, by his passing. It took us a while to come back to it and start to focus on it again,” he says.
As painful as losing his friend was, De Anda wasn’t left alone. De Anda has been involved behind the scenes with Porch Party Records for years. The imprint’s bands are predominantly from Long Beach, but some hail from Oakland, which De Anda calls a sister city to Long Beach. “There’s less pressure to be this big city and more or less an area where everyone can just be weird together,” he says of both places, with an emphasis on the “together.”
“It’s super cool to sing songs in Spanish for people that understand Spanish.”
He also works with Qvolé, a small Los Angeles-based management and booking collective with an eclectic roster of Latino artists. “It’s a little bit of everything. Buyepongo is a cumbia band. We have Levitation Room who is on Burger Records and they’re like a psych band,” De Anda explains. It’s also home to the Latin soul-inspired Chicano Batman, whom De Anda calls “the big brothers of the whole movement.”
De Anda cites classic rock en español bands like Los Prisioneros and Alaska y Dinarama as a major influence on his current project and, though all of the songs on this album are in English, he has quite a few Spanish-language songs up his sleeve. De Anda is looking forward to releasing some of them on a forthcoming EP.
He’s played several times in Baja California, where a lot of his family hails from, and plans to have the album release show there. “It’s super cool to sing songs in Spanish for people that understand Spanish,” he observes, laughing a little. “I love going down there. I feel at home,” he says.
Sometimes you don’t have to be like everyone else to fit in, and there doesn’t always have to be just one place where you belong – especially if you have something unique to offer. He also finds himself at home with the garage rock scene in Southern California, with which the Burger Records label has become synonymous. “Our first show ever was with our friends Froth, which is a pretty cool band from Burger. We’ve been playing with them for a long time,” he says. “If anything, I feel happy that they’re able to accept us for who we are, in that we’re doing our own thing, but we kind of get lumped into these kind of garage shows sometimes. I feel like that’s where our rock en español comes in to play. It’s like, ‘Well, we’ll show you what our kind of interpretation of that is. It’s cool that we could be the only band on the bill that sings in Spanish.’”
Rudy de Anda’s Delay, Cadaver of a Day drops June 24 on Porch Party Records. Stream the album exclusively above.