Q&A: Domino Saints, "Go Hard or Go Home"

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It must be pretty cool to be Domino Saints. The Boricua urban-pop duo is a force to be reckoned with. Formed in 2007, the husband and wife team has achieved what tons of artists crave: an explosive debut record that has received high critical acclaim, and a bright, promising future in the world of Latin music. Their sound and presentation are edgy and honest. Their demeanor is mischievous, hip, and still approachable – a quality not often seen with rising stars. Gigi Ojeda and David Leal, the couple behind Domino Saints, have a simple strategy – to apply “Malas Mañas,” translated as “bad habits” (also the name of their upcoming sophomore album) to their music and lifestyle. You’ll understand why by reading further. Indeed, “Not your typical saints” is the phrase Domino Saints chose to describe themselves on Facebook, and what they have to say in the following exclusive interview will make ya wanna take their advice and brush up on your own bad habits.

In this conversation, Gigi and David talk about obtaining what’s necessary for partying hard and living to the max, how the urban scene has unfolded within the last couple of years, and how a shark attack during their teenage years inspired their union.

There’s also an exclusive FREE download of “Malas Mañas (Beta Control moombahton remix) way below!

Hey guys, please describe your physical surroundings and current state of mind.

Right now we are sitting down at South Pointe Park in Miami Beach watching boats come into the bay and dogs barking at seagulls. We are at the calm before the storm. After several years of hard work, great things are starting to happen for us and that gives us an overwhelming feeling of excitement and anxiety. It’s complicated, but amazing at the same time.

I also want to start by asking what “malas mañas” you both have?

We always get what we want. We are the best at what we do. “¡Somos mañosos de naturaleza!” We party hard and live to the maximum. For some people that could be a bad thing. For us, it’s just another walk in the park.

How did these “mañas” inspire you to create this latest album?

We wanted to do something innovative in music. We wanted to create an album that encompasses all we truly are in a way people can relate to it. We want people to listen to our soul and party all night. No matter what we do, it’s still Domino Saints. Go hard or go home.

What about your guilty pleasures in music and film?

Gigi: My guilty pleasures in music are Radiohead, Pendulum, and Michael Jackson. In film, pretty much any movie with a girl kicking butt with a samurai sword and Johnny Depp.

David: Music that gets me going? I’m really into old school reggae stuff like Barrington Levy, Shabba Ranks. I also like newer stuff like Collie Buddz, Mavado, and Gyptian. When people mix that vibe with electronic music, I go nuts! That’s why I love Diplo/Major Lazer and Pendulum as well. Movies? Wow. Tarantino and Rodriguez kill it, as well as Mustache Testosterone action flicks from the ’80s. They are soo bad, but I can’t look away. [Laughs]


In your experience, how has the urban music scene unfolded in the last couple of years in Puerto Rico?

We pretty much would play anywhere for any kind of audience we could. Because of the different styles we bring together, we can get shows on the same bill as anyone from Daddy Yankee to Cultura Profética. We’ve seen all the sides to the music world in Puerto Rico. Urban music in Puerto Rico is actually a lot of things and has a very broad spectrum. We grew up with the old school Jamaican sound that made us get into dancehall and the playero style that created reggaetón. Today, things are changing. Kids want the style to evolve into other things. Electronica is a big influence now and we’ll see a lot of cool changes in the music in the next couple of years. Hopefully lots of dancehall and gritty music will fuse with heavy electronic music and take urban music to the next level. We just hope that violence can stay out of the music. When we were younger, Puerto Rico was a safer place where you could party all night. When the music stops, the fun stops, and hopefully that will never happen.

What was the most fun part of making the video for “Malas Mañas”?

Being in Vegas was amazing! Everything about that city inspires total insanity and creativity. We can’t really say what happened there. It’s Vegas policy! [Laughs]

How did you two meet? And did you know you’d be making music together?

We met when we were 15 years old thanks to a shark attack warning at the beach. We were really young and had no idea what we would end up doing with our lives. Music was always a passion but at the time we imagined ourselves as a professional ballet dancer in NYC (Gigi) and as a mechanical engineer (David). Who knew how far it would be from that! Things happen for a reason. [Laughs]

What’s the craziest, most wild experience you’ve had while performing?

We once played a benefit show where there was a big fight between the band that provided the amps and backline for the show and the event organizers. They were so pissed about not being able to play when they wanted that they went on stage while we were in the middle of a song and unplugged the amps and took the drum stool where I was playing (David). It was insane!! I was playing standing up while the sound guys rushed to plug everyone in somewhere else so we could finish. The funny thing was that no one in the audience noticed anything at all. They thought it was part of the show! After that, we can rock the house anywhere, even unplugged, literally! [Laughs]

What are you guys gonna be for Halloween?

We like making it more challenging by finding a unique outfit out of stuff we already have in the closet. We have some surprises in mind for this year. We are probably gonna go movie themed–think Tarantino.

So what’s next creatively?

We are always writing and producing new stuff. That’s just who we are. Sometimes we think we are some crazy chemists trying to combine stuff and saying, “Hmm, what would happen if we put these together?” [Laughs] We are really happy with the music we are making now. This album is the maximum expression of Domino Saints and we know it’s gonna blow your mind away! Domino Saints’ full-length album, Malas Mañas, will be out soon!

Download an exclusive moombahton remix of Domino Saint’s “Malas Mañas” by Beta Control below: