To be at peace with the moment, and settled in the now, is an existence most of us merely can strive for. Thus, the basis of music’s appeal—to captivate and facilitate mental escape, if only at the moment, for the moment.
Meditative music can be gentle and quaint, but guitar heroes Rodrigo y Gabriela (Rodrigo Sanchez and Gabriela Quintero) challenge your auditory status quo with their latest release Mettavolution. The Mexican duo invites listeners on a simultaneously hard and fast, yet easy and slow reminder to “look inward, to be a little bit ‘selfish’ for a minute and do what you can for your own sake.”
The momentary vibe found in their music is apparent in conversation—wherein everything is more simplified. When asked questions about artistry, or perhaps which songs she enjoys playing as covers, Gabriela’s response is instant: “I don’t know at the moment,” she says calmly. “At least for me, it’s not to plan anything.”
Early this year the band released an homage to Pink Floyd’s “Echoes,” the track that closes out the latest RyG record. It’s Another example of being perfectly emotionally executed and flowing free. “But it’s just music,” Gabriela says. “You let yourself be free and play whatever you want.”
The unplanned creative composition of their recently released album, Mettavolution is serendipitous. A forty-plus minute emotional odyssey of bold beats and super strumming, the content offers an invitation to unwind from the grind in awesomely aggressive and equally calming riffs.
Title track “Mettavolution” opens up the album with fiery Flamenco notes and evolves effortlessly with a repetitive chorus riff. “Electric Soul” offers a soothing call to body action that will make you sway back and forth like palm trees enjoying island vibes. “Krotona Days” is a rich, multi-dimensional piece with a strong loyalty to the inherent sound of the Spanish guitar, coupled with modernized, metal riff infusions…. You know, that thing these two do really well.
Gabriela let her hands rest for a moment to riff a bit about the new record, as well as the duo’s uniquely distinguished grasp of energy and rhythm.
Congratulations on the new album! It’s exciting to hear new music from Rodrigo y Gabriela! Your recent performance on Jimmy Kimmel Live was a change up from your usual simply bold set. How have you strived to evolve the performance?
For the Kimmel performance, we were looking for something different and very visual. Because people like to dance and move around to the music we play, we can work with ideas and choreography. We got in touch with [choreographer] Annie B. [Parson]. She’s incredible and she’s worked with many artists. So, she did this contemporary choreography for us. We loved it. It goes really well with the music. For now, on tour we’re not bringing the dancers with us, but we have a very different show. For visuals, we worked with the artist who did our Mettavolution cover. It’s very different. The structure of the performance with two guitars is not going to change, but everything else is different.
The tone of this album, and recent track “Terracentric,” is meant to be more meditative and exploratory. Music should do that but not all popular music offers meditative and personal connection. You offer that as a restorative gift for fans of music and guitar specifically. Do you have a formula for crafting meditative music or is it a fluid composition?
It comes from a very authentic place. Sometimes it’s not difficult to reach that place. The world we live in is so fast. There’s a lot of information, coming fast. So many things going on. I think music has become standardized, especially how sometimes artists’ creativity has fallen into fitting the music industry standards…. That’s why Rodrigo and I took so long to write this album…. We wrote these thirty or forty pieces along three years. [At first] we were trying to fit in, thinking, ‘How can we make it. How do other bands do it? We should do it this way.’ We also get a lot of feedback from our team and label personnel—‘Oh this is what is happening right now. This is what bands are doing right now.’ At the end of the day we were not happy with all of the music we wrote. We had a moment where we both went, “Ah, fuck it, you know it’s okay if we don’t fit in. The most important thing is that we’re writing music that’s authentic to us. If people like it, well that’s great.’ We wrote this music from a very authentic place.
You both are so incredible to watch play. Your body movements and facial expressions exude passion, and you go pretty hard! Do you have any special personal regimens to support your overall health and performance?
We do eat very healthy. We’re vegans. We do a lot of yoga. Well, I don’t do a lot of yoga [laughs] but I try to do it every day. We also love to run. After the shows we put our hands and arms into ice because it’s an anti-inflammatory and prevents injury. We both meditate. It’s a healthy thing to do for your mental health and well-being.
You and Rodrigo were romantically involved at one point but are now just friends. That dynamic seems like it could be taxing but you’ve continued to collaborate well. Has that ever been a challenge?
At the moment, it was difficult. But now we’re both very focused. We have a very good relationship. We’re both very happy playing together. We’re much better friends now than before. We used to argue a lot. Everything can be challenging but at the moment we try to find our way and we both have grown and invested a lot in each our own time and space, meditating and just staying focused on being good people.
Your music is a natural audience binder, appealing broadly to so many people. Why do you think that is?
It’s true—we have people of all ages and family types coming to enjoy our shows. People come out with their grannies! Grandparents bring the grandkids! Probably just because it’s very accessible music. While it’s complex, and it’s complex to play, if you hear it, it’s simple to access. You can analyze it, and you can focus on the guitar work. Or you can just dance and enjoy the vibe.
BE SURE TO CATCH RODRIGO Y GABRIELA MAY 17 AT FRANKLIN MUSIC HALL IN PHILADELPHIA, MAY 18 AT THE BEACON THEATRE IN NEW YORK CITY, AND MAY 21 AT THE PARAMOUNT IN HUNTINGTON, NY.