Las Calakas is a Phoenix-based band known for their lively performances of Latin fusion, specifically cumbia. The band recently debuted their first full-length album, Hechizo (also available on vinyl), released by the L.A. label My Grito Industries.
The name of the band is a slight variation of the Aztec word calaca, which is defined as the human skeleton or skull. A calaca is used as a symbol representing death as something to celebrate, based on a belief in Mexico that “no soul likes to be remembered as sad and that death should be a happy event. In some areas of Mexico, funerals become authentic fiestas in honor of the deceased.”
For Las Calakas, this word forms an essential part of their cultural heritage, and for them it’s a symbol that also means rebirth and rejuvenation. It holds promising implications.
The inclusion of their Mexican roots is also reflected in their music. Las Calakas consider themselves a Latino fusion band that brings together traditional sounds with rock, reggae, funk, and some punk. It’s feel-good music set to the rhythm and feel of cumbia. The band is also known for being the founders of the Phoenix-based event, Cumbia Till You Drop!
Las Calakas hope their success so far will inspire other bands in their area to play what they love, regardless of the initial skepticism they may receive.
“Whatever happens, I hope we inspire people,” they told the Phoenix Times in 2019. “There are some really great musicians [in Arizona] who have spent years practicing just to step into the shoes of someone else. They need a reason and a purpose to create something new.”
Their new album Hechizo is available on all digital platforms.
Featured image courtesy of Las Calakas