San Jose has had an historically vibrant music scene that has a couple of legendary musicians and acts in its history. The constant interactions of different cultures in the vibrantly eclectic heart of Silicon Valley brings a new wave of musicians who are incorporating their environments into their sound. Raul Y Mexia are sons of legendary Mexican Norteño band Los Tigres Del Norte front man, Hernan Hernandez, yet the sound they create is unique to their own efforts and experiences.
The two Hernandez brothers, Raul and Hernan, describe their musical output as a “campechana” mix of everything fun and feel good. Campechana is a Mexican seafood cocktail that is served in a glass with ingredients such as clams, shrimp, diced onions, cucumbers, avocados, and tomatoes. Living in San Jose meant growing up with their own family’s musical background as well as the sounds around them.
Mexia explained some of their influences while growing up, “Uur father and Los Tigres del Norte, were one of the biggest influences in just teaching us what it is to work hard with dedication, and the blueprint for how we want to live out our careers.” Their American born mother would play Marvin Gaye while their father would put on Los Humildes. Both Raul and Mexia describe their home life as full of different musical types, that had a profound effect on how they produce their own style of music.
Both brothers have formal education; Raul is attending university while Mexia holds an engineering license. This implies they weren’t always headed down the road of recording artists. Their own father was reluctant for them to live the life of a musician because of the toll it takes on family and life in general. “At first our dad did not want us to become musicians. He wanted us to shy away from it. We would be missing birthday parties and family events. He didn’t want us to experience that type of stuff,” explained Raul on the initial restraints of getting into the music industry.
It didn’t take long before the two brothers, along with their younger brother (who currently plays drums with them) began to experiment with hip-hop, cumbia and other genres that they were exposed to growing up. As time passed, and the Raul y Mexia worked hard at garnering underground praise, their father saw their efforts and changed his thoughts on the matter, encouraging them to do this professionally. They added, “It didn’t happen overnight, ‘hey we’re the sons of somebody famous let’s just do this.’ There’s always that hard work and sacrifice.”
Mexia had a mutual love of music with the acclaimed DJ and Producer Toy Selectah who is based out of Monterey, Mexico. 3 years ago he did a show in San Francisco where Mexia approached him to ask if they could meet and possibly work together. They remarked that indeed Toy Selectah liked their musical direction. The brothers and he “vibed on music, culture and ideas.” He was described as an easy person to get along with, which made it easy in the studio. Mexia recalls how they didn’t want to hone in on one particular sound, which goes back to the aforementioned campechana. Metaphorically it refers to the various influences and cultures, that are shared in the bay area, that in turn influenced the musical inclinations that Mexia and Raul create. “The youth of today are really into all types of music. There’s not really one sound we’re into from Dr. Dre to Los Tucanes.”
Thus the brothers Hernandez flew out to Mexico to discuss what their direction was and get to know Toy Slectah’s environment in Mexico. After going to Monterey for a couple weeks and interacting with his people and environment they recorded some tracks which led to their first single, “Las Escondidas”, which became a hit from their debut, Arriba Y Lejos. This collaboration also led them to their Los Angeles based music label Nacional Records. According to Raul the founder of Nacional, Tomas Cookman, “really understood what we were trying to do, as being versatile and representing the bay area.”
At this point they told me how ecstatic and humbling it is that people give good feedback to their music. They are thankful to have this opportunity, and anytime a big moment occurs in their career it only makes them work harder to share their music with different people around the world. One of these big moments is when they learned that Japanese and European music retailers began to carry their album in their stores. Things like this influence the positivity that their music drives to the listener.
Raul explained that their album is fun, a fusion of everything. Some of its content has Cumbia, Norteña music, hip hop, with some Mariachi. He describes that the fun and positive melodies were a step in the opposite direction from some of their earlier work, which had some political meanings. With this album their intentions were to try something new, and see things in a different light. They describe the classification as a Latino Pop album, which they feel they made so even their younger cousins, uncles, and grandparents could listen to it and enjoy. Mexia explains that this album is simply one “you could listen to while you’re riding in your car, walking down your street with your iPod.”
Asked about their goals, the two brothers responded with certainty that they were going to work for their success. “If we’re able to gain a little piece of the public’s heart, win a little spot in their hearts we’re okay with that. We’re not here to conquer the world. We have a long way to go, we’re definitely in this for the long haul and want to represent our hometown San Jose and the bay area.” Along the way their legendary musician father constantly shared his advice for his two sons about the musicians life. Their father’s advice was, “Mijos, this isn’t a sprint. You’re not running the 100 yard dash. It’s a marathon. You have to keep going. Pace yourself and keep working hard.”
Follow Raul Y Mexia at their official website http://raulymexia.com/ which contains access to their facebook and twitter pages.
They will be performing at San Jose’s Fairmount in their Pagoda venue on March 30th.