Salinas, California-based cumbia Urbana outfit ¿Qiensave? recently dropped their brand-new EP, El After, a compilation of songs started prior to the pandemic and finished during the pandemic, which altered the EP’s inspiration and evolution.
Talking about the EP, rhythm guitarist and vocalist Carlos Cortez shares, “Having a festive attitude we began this journey, but the name took on a different meaning after the pandemic, some run-ins with the law, a couple of divorces, some wins, some losses and rehab, well not all in that order but it felt like it, it was like what’s gonna happen next? EL AFTER, meaning the sunshine after the storm, El pari que sigue!”
El After’s writing and recording began on the heels of their album, Mujer, featuring “High Class.” The band followed by sharing the stage with Grupo Kual, La Misa Negra, Celso Piña, La Santa Cecilia, Las Cafeteras, Little Jesus, Fuerza de Tijuana, É. Arenas, Tropa Magica, La Ronda Bogotá, Bang Data, and La Septima.
As they started working on El After, things were normal. Then the pandemic hit, which changed everything.
Carlos Cortez explains, “We had to stop and contemplate it all for a minute just like life in the pandemic and after some time we pushed through. What started as one album went through many forms and ideas and ended here. With a brand-new outlook on life after the pandemic, we found a new meaning to ‘El After.’ It was a homage to the late-night party or desmadre of the wee hours of the morning and became a deeper look into ‘El After’ in our lives.’ El After’ is that moment after the moment, that moment after love and you no longer find yourself feeling the same, or the moment when we realize we aren’t the same person we used to be, be it good or bad. ‘El After’ as in the transition from one fiesta to the other good or bad.”
Formed in 2009 ¿Qiensave? is made up of Carlos Cortez (Rhythm Guitar/Vocals), Alejandro Gomez (Lead Guitar/Vocals), Mario Cortez (Guida/Keyboard/Vocals), Ricardo Cortez (Drums/Vocals), and William Cortez (Bass).
Encompassing seven tracks, El After begins with “Quemayama,” which features a majestic guitar intro flowing into a delicious Latin rhythm topped by evocative vocals.
Speaking about the song, the band says, “We decided to cover this song and introduce elements of cumbia and Afro-Cuban percussion to give the song a different flavor.”
Entry points include “El Dui,” an homage to the late ‘80s, and early ‘90s techno-banda amalgamated with the organo melodico style of Juan Torres Robles. Full of ebullient, dazzling colors riding a galloping rhythm, the song projects dynamic energy.
“Asi Es el Amor” travels on a bass-driven rhythm topped by shimmering guitars and lush vocals.
Carlos Cortez relates how the song came together, “Mario and Ricardo were jamming on chords with a more ranchero vibe. Thinking of Love, Sex, and the future of Love, the song came together. As they were working on the song, Jandro randomly walked through the door like Kramer and joined in adding his musical direction and that sierreño touch with his bajo sexto. The song came in an organic way bringing a new touch to the ¿Qiensave? sound!”
Wonderfully wrought, full of kaleidoscopic sonic tints and scrummy vocals, with El After, ¿Qiensave? parades their stellar creativity.