Mid-Week Intermission Artist Edition: Adrian Quesada

Guitarist, songwriter, GRAMMY winner… is there anything Adrian Quesada can’t do? We caught up with the iconic Austinite ahead of his September 2nd show with us, celebrating our 15th anniversary. Keep scrolling to get the scoop on his creative process, what we can expect on September 2, and *gasp* a new Black Pumas album 👇

MEET ADRIAN QUESADA
Photo by Jackie Lee Young

Long Center: First off, just for fun — what song do you want folks to listen to while they read the rest of this interview?

Adrian Quesada: Cajmere’s “Brighter Days” (Underground Goodies Mix) because I just listened to that for the last 24 hours straight 😝

LC: Grupo FantasmaBlack Pumas… these groups are now huge household names in Austin and beyond. How has your perspective on making music in Austin changed since you first got started? 

AQ: As I get older, I feel more of a responsibility to represent Austin on a global scale and am truly honored to call this city home and receive as much support as I do here. The city has changed so much, and continues to do so. The longer I have the opportunity to make music here really feels like a blessing.

LC: We know that Jaguar Sound was your pandemic project – what kind of effect do you think that had on the album as a whole? Has it taken on new life now that it’s in music venues and out in the open? 

AQ: Jaguar Sound being a pandemic album had a bit of a solitary and pensive vibe to it that I think was very reflective of the moment in time. There were so many things that felt poignant, among them the fact that jaguars are largely solitary animals. I have some reclusive traits, so making music alone was not new to me, and it was the only way to really operate at that time.

The fact that a lot of friends were doing the same made it easy to collaborate on parts, so this was not an album that was finished alone; it was brought to life by a lot of talented musicians.

It has definitely taken on a new life as it wasn’t exactly recorded to be played live, so doing so and having people react the way they do has been really special.

Photo by Jackie Lee Young

LC:  The list of influences for this album are like a rap-cinema whirlwind. How did you land on ‘70s Italian movie scores and rap beats and then link these two seemingly separate ideas into something entirely your own?

AQ: What I love about film scores is that they’re set to visuals, but can be so expressive even without the film they accompany — they can be very open to interpretation.

I have a visual arts background and an art degree (I used to be a painter), so I always make music that I imagine someone can close their eyes to and see something when they listen.

Hip-hop was my first musical obsession, and a lot of samples have come from film scores and composers, so finding the middle ground between the two felt pretty natural to me.

LC: We’re beyond excited for your show on September 2nd, celebrating our 15th birthday. Who will be joining you on stage? Any special guests? 

AQ: We will be performing my Jaguar Sound album, along with a mini Boleros Psicodélicos set featuring vocalists Angélica Garcia, Clemente Castillo, and Mireya Ramos (of Mariachi Flor de
Toloache).

This will be a rare treat, as the last time we performed that music was last year at ACL Fest and a subsequent ACL TV taping. There may be a couple of other surprise guests that come through as well!

LC: Any future projects you can tease for us? Maybe a new big cat on the horizon? 

AQ: Yes, I am very excited to say that there is a new Black Pumas album coming very soon. We
came together to make something I’m very proud of as a second album, and I promise we won’t disappoint.

Photo by Jackie Lee Young

Well that’s it, we’re pumped! What about you? Catch Adrian plus special guests Angélica Garcia, Clemente Castillo, and Mireya Ramos at the Long Center on September for a big ol’ 15th anniversary show. Buy three tickets and get one free by entering the code SPIRITS when you check out. See you there ✌️

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