The Chamanas on Border Myths, Música Fronteriza, and Forming a Band in El Paso-Juárez

The Chamanas. Photo by Itzel Alejandra for Remezcla

Born in El Paso-Juárez, The Chamanas aren’t shy about the way the border informs their sound. The quintet describe their soft-spoken but grandiose songs as “música fronteriza,” and it’s a label that aptly captures the tensions of living in-between. The band’s blend of heavenly synth pop and folk rhythms synthesizes that liminal reality, and as our own Marcos Hassan pointed out, their arrangements “sometimes recall huapangos and folk songs such as ‘La Sandunga’ and ‘La Llorona,’” but also reference epic 70s balladeers like Jeanette. It’s a tumultuous brew that speaks to the emotional, often trying realities of border life.

Though the band’s music tells the story of living on the border, that doesn’t mean they’re here to peddle inane stereotypes, either. For proof, look to their video for lead single “Dulce Mal,” which paints a more peaceful portrait of the El Paso-Juárez community. At SXSW, we sat down with the group to talk about what El Paso-Juárez is really like, and how they turned their small town ambitions into The Chamanas.

The Chamanas’ Once Once is out now on Nacional Records.

Photo by Itzel Alejandra Martinez for Remezcla