Rubio Dips Her Toes in Reggaeton on Her Ethereal Self-Titled Debut

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There is little doubt Fran Straube is one of the hardest working and most prolific artists in Chile’s storied indie scene. From her powerhouse drumming for local indie poppers Fármacos, to her psychedelic wails fronting Miss Garrison, Straube seems to have her hands in everything. Now, the multifaceted musician is venturing out with Rubio, her own personal voyage into ethereal experimental music.

Straube led a successful online crowdfunding campaign last year to help finance the production of Rubio’s self-titled debut EP. The end result, which we are premiering today on Remezcla, sounds like a series of snapshots taken from different parts of some shadowy and sensual netherworld. “Fuego” plays like an exchange of body heat from would-be lovers on a dancefloor, and “Lucy,” an initially cautious, moody track gives way to an almost kaleidoscopic breakdown before coming to a close.

“I listen to a lot of downtempo and electronic music,” she offers, “so I wanted to see myself playing in those genres. Miss Garrison verges more on the experimental and psychedelic, so I wanted to play up some bass-driven rhythms, dembow, and others. I have it all in me, and I really enjoy it, so I really wanted to build on those passions.”

Rubio offers Straube the space to flesh out new facets of her musical identity. “What I really like about Rubio,” she reflects, “is that I have a very clear aesthetic in mind for the project, which is why I play with the concept of albinism, the white horse, etc. I really want to play with the visuals and I want it to be a tight and well-rounded vision. I like projects that are thought all the way through, like Kali Mutsa, where it’s all a full concept down to the album cover and photo shoots.”

The mini album’s final track, “MO,” is easily the standout of the bunch. Straube dives deep into the familiar waters of percussion and emerges with a song steeped in reggaeton and dembow rhythms, something she is acutely aware could bring the heat in Chile’s oft-segregated music scene. “I haven’t released the EP in Chile yet, so I’m expecting with [“MO”] people will totally bully me or celebrate me for it,” she laughs. “That song is very different from my usual style so I expect people to be like, ‘Wow, Fran, what’s up? Reggaeton?’ But I think you have to be daring, and if it’s something I’m feeling I’m definitely going for it.”

Rubio is tight and Straube’s willingness to let herself go with the flow is admirable. “I see Rubio as an experiment,” she mused while prepping for one of her numerous sets at Hermoso Ruido in Bogotá. “Even the cover, where I’m painted all white and look super androgynous; I’m going for a kind of androgynous Nordic-Oriental feel,” she giggles. “I’m promoting this EP but I’m already working on new tracks. I like that it’s a really free project and I can give it shape as I go. I want to work on new tracks and put them out at my own pace. If I can tour, I tour. I’m just excited to see where it all goes.”

Stream Rubio’s debut EP above.