In a time where inspiration turns into imitation, Making Movies proves that there’s no excuse to fall into the cycle of similarity, generating one hit wonders cut from the same cloth. Although that may be the highway to success, Making Movies would rather forage their own path, making every mile count.
Band brothers, Enrique Chi, guitar and vocals, and Diego Chi, bass, are originally from Santiago, Panama. While Juan-Carlos Chaurand, percussion and keyboard, hails from Guadalajara, Mexico and Brendan Culp, drums, completes the band from Kansas City, Missouri.
This eclectic mix of personalities and heritage show through in their music and mixed with influences from Bruce Springsteen to Cuban Son style, it works. Their sound caught the attention of Steve Berlin, saxophonist, keyboardist, record producer, and most popularly known as a member of legendary rock group Los Lobos.
“It was a perfect fit! He’s been around people making their own blend of their culture. Of their cultures, the Mexican culture with Blues culture that they experienced in L.A. and the Rock culture. So he understands what that’s like from a very innate perspective and has worked with so many different styles of music that when he came to the table, the ideas he came with weren’t one sided,” said Enrique Chi.
Making Movies traveled to Portland to work with Berlin, and together they recorded an album in 11 days. “We didn’t mix it, everything you hear is recorded in 11 days, and then over the next couple of months it was mixed and mastered. We worked 12 hours a day,” said Chi.
Making Movies keeps it vintage by recording to tape and they believe the process keeps them at their best. “There’s something so magical about doing it the old way and also the limitation, we have to play all together, it doesn’t allow you to have those super crazy edits, or to manipulate things after the fact as easily. With those limitations, there’s more pressure to play more like a band, and not feel like there’s this infinite reset button. Recording to tape makes it feel like you have to get it right and you can’t just go back and keep tweaking it and tweaking it,” said Chi.
For 11 days, 12 hours at a time, Making Movies and Berlin worked tirelessly to create what the band considers to be their concept as a group fully captured in the form of their sophomore album, “A La Deriva”.
A La Deriva is a milestone for the group in many ways, including lyrical perspective. Enrique is the band’s head lyricist, but don’t expect to hear him whine about past love, Chi often draws inspiration by placing himself in someone else’s perspective.
“I started becoming more involved with our community, teaching a music camp at The Mattie Rhodes Center, and seeing some things and it inspired me to maybe turn some of my own sentiments into stories that are either loosely based on things I’ve experienced or things I’ve seen, and so this new record what we have is a loose narrative of a family that moves to the U.S. that slowly starts falling apart, so there’s different characters involved and I kind of made it up as a composite of things I’ve personally experienced, things I’ve seen first hand, and strung them all together,” said Chi.
Making Movies proves that music can blend and transcend language, genre, and stereotypes. The multi-cultural aspect is extremely important to the band, who are living proof that music has no barriers.
“Dire Straits for me was something I loved as a kid, I was three years old. The song was called the walk of life, my parents and grandparents all remember me loving that song anytime it would come on the radio in Panama. It inspired us not to be afraid of language barriers. I didn’t speak English, but I remember the emotion and I was so young yet I vividly remember loving that song,” said Chi.
If Latino and Rock ‘n’ Roll music married, the outcome would be Making Movies. When a band doesn’t limit themselves to fitting into a certain style the possibilities are endless as well as the opportunities.
“I remember hearing Latin music and understanding why people want to dance to it, like Salsa records, like big salsa hits with 10 piece orchestra, and hearing them and thinking to myself that there’s an energy here. Then hearing Rock ‘n’ Roll and the simplicity of a Rolling Stones song. Where there can be two guitars, bass, drums, and it can rip your face off,” said Chi.
They consider themselves to be professional students of music, but those lusting after life on tour can learn a thing or two from the Kansas City breakout band.
“I joke, my advice is do it as a hobby and get a day job, and that comes two fold in that, if me scaring you off is enough to scare you out of this, then it wasn’t for you. My real advice for someone who really wants to do this is that trying to make a living and life out of it is very tricky. It has to be the one thing you want to do, like you would rather not exist than not do this,” said Chi.
Making Movies will be performing at the Gem Theater September 29 for “Music Y Cine”. A public program and screening of Buena Vista Social Club, which explores the careers and legacies of some of Havana’s finest musicians, following a performance by Making Movies. This public program is in conjunction with the American Sabor: Latinos in U.S. Popular Music exhibition at the American Jazz Museum until October 27, 2013.
It will be a side project we do, the Making Movies Social Club, we play songs from Latin America and we usually invite a special guest from the Jazz community in Kansas City. We have ties to the Jazz community here through that kind of stuff. For whatever reason the Jazz community likes us, and that’s all we care about," said Chi.
About Demetra Kopulos: Demetra is a Journalism and Digital Media Major at Kansas State University. She is currently serving as an online and media intern at the American Jazz Museum. She does artist features, blog posts, interviews, and manages social media for their various sites.