Pachyman Returns With New Album
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BIG ENERGY")
PACHY GARCIA: This is the return of Pachyman.
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
The music of Pachy Garcia, who performs as Pachyman, has roots from his native Puerto Rico, strong influence from Jamaican reggae, some of the breezy ease of where he currently lives in Southern California. His new album is "The Return Of..." Pachy Garcia joins us now from Los Angeles. Thanks so much for being with us.
GARCIA: Thank you for having me.
SIMON: This is what's called a dub record, a recording and mixing technique that's popular in reggae. Could you explain it to us?
GARCIA: It's mostly instrumental music, I would say. It stemmed from the creation of the multitrack recordings back in Jamaica. An engineer known by - as King Tubby decided to take off the vocals of a track that was recorded, to play it at different sound systems or gatherings, beer gardens that they used to have in their backyards in Jamaica, so other people can come and sing over the track - or not necessarily sing over it but kind of, like, just talk to people, kind of engage with the audience that was there. And they discovered ways on how to fill up space by taking off the vocals and adding reverbs to certain instrumental elements.
SIMON: Well, and what attracted you to use that as a recording technique?
GARCIA: I grew up in Puerto Rico, and reggae is a big part of the culture being from the Caribbean. And I was attracted to it via local bands that were doing it. And it also was the - I guess the first time that it put engineers as artists, like, in the forefront.
SIMON: Ah. You play all the instruments yourself on this album?
GARCIA: I do, yeah. I play bass, drums, keyboards and guitar. And I have some friends that did a couple of featurings, but the whole record is basically just me.
(SOUNDBITE OF PACHYMAN'S "ROOTS TRAIN")
SIMON: Well, let's listen to one of the songs, "Roots Train."
(SOUNDBITE OF PACHYMAN'S "ROOTS TRAIN")
SIMON: So what's going on here?
GARCIA: I'm playing a more, I guess, Revolutionary-style reggae, which was a band led by Sly and Robbie, producers from Jamaica that started in the reggae scene. And they eventually put a band together called The Revolutionaries, which was the backing band of a studio called Channel One, which was my biggest inspiration studio-wise sound - like, sonically-wise to start the Pachyman project.
SIMON: The music you grew up listening to is - well, it sounds like it kind of lights your way in going forward with the music you want to hear.
GARCIA: Yeah. I was really into punk when I was a kid. I mean, I still am. And in a way, reggae also stems from the same background where it's, like, music that was trying to do stuff differently or think differently or - and they are political in a way, as well. And I feel like...
GARCIA: ...Both of those genres really blended in with each other.
SIMON: You, of course, mentioned the political element. Let's listen to a song, "Destroy The Empire."
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DESTROY THE EMPIRE")
GARCIA: Destroy the empire.
SIMON: Is this song a kind of rallying cry?
GARCIA: In a way it is. I wrote that song around the same time that I was reading Nelson Denis "War Against All Puerto Ricans" and during, you know, most of 2020 especially, like, coming from a Puerto Rican diaspora or Puerto Rican that, you know, believes in, like, the independence of Puerto Rico. And it also comes very inspired from old, like, Scientist and Prince Jammy records where it's like - they just, like, send messages at the beginning and then let the music do its thing. And it's kind of, like, a tough song for tough times.
SIMON: Yeah. Well, what are your hopes for the future of Puerto Rico?
GARCIA: I would love to see more people at least understand that we - there's many of us that left the island, but those are the same people that also believe that we should be independent. We haven't had an opportunity to be ourselves since we were colonized by the Spanish. And we've been, like, tossed around and kind of, like, left on the back burner. And I feel like it's something that I would like, at least, to see, it being considered in a global scale and even on a national scale for ourselves. We should be left the opportunity to try to fend for ourselves and see where at least it takes us.
(SOUNDBITE OF PACHYMAN SONG, "DESTROY THE EMPIRE")
SIMON: You sort of crowdsourced this album, I guess, right? You played parts of it on social media and asked for a reaction?
GARCIA: Yeah. In a way, yes, you could say that. It started kind of as a, oh, look at me, I can record (laughter). It was more, like, trying to showcase. I was trying to learn how to become an engineer after years of being - I mean, still being a musician.
GARCIA: Fifteen years of playing in bands...
SIMON: Yeah, of course.
GARCIA: ...And in this interest in trying to achieve this old sound. And I decided to just take a video and try to edit it together and posted on Instagram just for kicks, you know? And it started getting a lot of reactions, and it kind of - it motivated me to keep doing it, too. So the whole project started because of Instagram videos.
SIMON: Wow. What song would you like us to go out on?
GARCIA: The "El Benson" one, I think, would be a good one.
(SOUNDBITE OF PACHYMAN'S "EL BENSON")
GARCIA: I tried to go in a different route where it was, like, a more soul jazz. Very proud of that one.
SIMON: Pachy Garcia, who performs - and records, for that matter - as Pachyman. His new album is "The Return Of..." Thank you so much for being with us.
GARCIA: Thank you so much for listening to my music and having me on board.
(SOUNDBITE OF PACHYMAN'S "EL BENSON") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.