It’s no stretch to say that AJ Dávila absolutely loves to collaborate — and often. His Terror Amor project debuted two years ago with guests like Cole Alexander from Black Lips, Alex Anwandter, Selma Oxor, Fofe Abreu from Circo, Juan Cirerol, and Sergio Rotman from Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, among others. The live band evolved to include more: Johnny Otis (his former bandmate in Davila 666), Lola Pistola, and members of Reanimadores. Last spring, he revealed another collab, this time with Puerto Rican producer Héctor “StoneTape” Hernández, called Carnales.
Now, AJ is entering the rap and R&B world along with Montenegro frontman and guitarist Parrillat. The project is dubbed 12 Pasos, and Parrillat is recording, mixing, and mastering it in his new in-home studio, Niño Rata.
“Sin Miedo, Baby” is the first release, and it features two Houston-based greats-on-the-rise: producer iLL Faded and rapper Fat Tony. Puerto Rican producer Overlord, a longtime Terror Amor conspirator known for his work with Audri Nix, also joined the crew. “It’s friends in the studio having fun,” AJ says. “It’s friends making music together, drinking beers, smoking blunts and maybe some other stuff!”
“Sin Miedo, Baby” boasts a subtly trill tone with a faint scratchiness that is Dávila’s trademark vocal amalgam, but the beat is akin to a funk tune played by an 80s synth-pop group. Fat Tony strolls in early on with a Spanglish bit about hanging with AJ at a mezcaleria; AJ delivers the chorus totally in Spanish. It’s a party jam, but one especially suited for that last languid stretch — the latest of late-nights leg where you’re drowsily savoring the effects of the hours prior.
Parrillat says they’re not confining 12 Pasos to any genre, though. “It could be R&B or hip-hop, or whatever, but we want to make the people dance. It could be also a punk song,” he laughs. The duo has been working together since AJ relocated from Puerto Rico to Mexico a few years ago; the alt-rock leaning “Festival Pagano” last year marked their first joint release.
“That’s the thing that I love [about] working with AJ,” he says. “Between him and me, we have this connection where we can make really easily music. We don’t have to have a plan; we just go to the studio and start recording and in two hours we have a whole song.”
Not only have they developed a stellar rapport in that time, but some of AJ’s tendencies are rubbing off on Parrillat: His hyper-productiveness and his penchant for pooling together pals as co-conspirators. “That’s one of the things that I learned [from] him,” Parrillat says. “He’s always working. He’s like the [hardest] working man I have ever met. Really, he’s always in the studio, he’s always working, he’s always collaborating. I learned a lot of that from him too. In years before, I was more like this punk guy. Like, ‘No, I only want to make my music.’ Right now, I just want to collaborate. I just don’t want to make music by myself anymore, at least not for now.”
Parrillat confirms there’s plenty more to come from 12 Pasos, but that they’re in no rush to roll out everything out at once. “The one thing that I can say is that we’re going to keep on working,” he says.