Christmas is almost here, and kicking our holiday feels into high gear, Gepe has dropped the video for his song “Invierno.” The song is a classic tale of winter loneliness that can only be abated by a loved one’s company, like a Latino take on “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” The video is a conceptual and often heartbreaking portrayal of the different ways we can experience isolation during winter’s darkest and coldest days, featuring Gepe as one half of a gender bending couple, a local booze hound, and a woman sitting alone with a birthday cake. It’s a sweet song that sounds like a Juan Luis Guerra produced bachata, which is no accident.
One of the great musical chameleons of our time, Gepe is constantly browsing through the halls of Latin American music in search of a new inspiration or direction in which to take his art. His successful evolution from indie jewel to near-household name in Chile is largely predicated on his ability to reference and emulate musical styles from all over the Americas while still packaging them in the traditional Andean folk melodies that are his musical roots. His work always finds that tricky middle ground between commercial appeal and artistic integrity. Gepe usually finds his muse in Latin America’s warmer northern regions, and his last album was no different. Where “Invierno” is clearly a bachata, songs like “ A La Noche” and “Siempre Quiero Lo Que No Tengo” are directly referencing merengue and reggae, respectively.
This distinctly Caribbean sound is not new per se, since Gepe has been incorporating reggaeton rhythms into his music for his last three albums, but his ability to tap into different regional nuances every time is what keeps the formula fresh. In some circles this practice might be considered appropriation, but within the larger context of Latino heritage, where all nations share a history of colonization, poverty and oppression, Gepe’s music lifts and celebrates our rich and wildly diverse musical history. We’re not mad at the tropical vibes; in fact, we hope he keeps them coming!
Photo by Eleonora Aldea Pardo