By Annabeth Reeb
One of the most integral parts behind a band’s music is their story. We sat down with lead singer Enrique Chi of Making Movies to discuss the legacy behind the lyrics. Making Movies will be making their way to College Station to be a part of the Lunchbox Series at MSC Plaza on November 11.
MW: How do you guys originate and what it was like growing up with music in a bilingual home?
EC: The band started six years ago. My brother and I had already kicked around the idea of doing bilingual music because we both grew up in a very bilingual home. My dad has been bilingual his whole life, even though he grew up in Panama. I only spoke Spanish until I was six. It just seemed to make sense. We would write some music in English and Spanish, and then six years ago we really solidified the sound by introducing Juan-Carlos into the group. Diego, Juan-Carlos, and I have played music and been around music our whole lives because our dad played guitar, so we picked it up very young. Diego and I tried to write music all the time when we were young. Juan-Carlos has the same kind of story; his dad was in a pretty famous band in the 60s and left the band to do the family life thing. So Juan-Carlos always had drums around the house. And Brendan too, his mom’s a music teacher.
Their bilingual music is an amazing testament to music in general—the idea that one doesn’t even need to understand the language to feel the music. We ask Enrique about the group’s name, and he explained that the group chose their name based on a similar principle.
EC: The band name comes from an 80s rock band called the Dire Straits. My dad grew up in this little town in Panama called Santiago. He fell in love with the Beatles, I’m not sure how he heard it – maybe there was one station that played it. So he always tried to find rock-and-roll, and when he found something he liked he would always go and seek out the records. So he had a bunch of records from this band called Dire Straits, and I remember loving their music before I even spoke English. My first memory as a kid was loving one of their songs. They have a record cover called Making Movies. All of the major art forms are really story telling art forms. You’re trying to tell a story through a medium. Making music or telling a poem, or making a movie are all very similar art forms to me.
We asked him whether he preferred writing in one language over the other.
EC: They’re both really different animals. The languages lend themselves to different things. I can write easier in English but I think a lot of that has to do with living in the United States. My days more often than not have more English-speaking than Spanish-speaking, so when I sit down and feel inspired that is often the language my brain defaults to. But I usually have a higher batting average with my Spanish songs. I might write ten English songs and keep one or two of them. But with Spanish songs, I might only write five and I’ll keep one or two of them. My Spanish songs seem to come out easier and more poetic naturally.
The band’s inspiration stems even further from just bilingual heritage. Enrique explained his experience volunteering with at risk kids and how it affected his perspective and his music.
EC: On our last album, I was feeling really tired of self-centered music. I had this feeling that the indie rock scene was sitting there crying about spilled milk all the time. And maybe that’s a little generic but I was thinking that for me to grow as a songwriter, I needed to think bigger than that. I had written this song early on, before the band was a band. It didn’t have great lyrics – it only had a pretty good chorus and a good idea. About that time, I started to volunteer at an afterschool program in Kansas City teaching guitar lessons through this non-profit called Mattie Rhodes Center. I thought I’d be giving guitar lessons, but it turned out it was just hanging out. Learning an instrument was kind of a foreign concept to them; they had bigger problems to worry about than learning to play something. It evolved little by little to what we have going today, we run a music camp with a non-profit for kids who are ready and willing to learn. It has really blossomed since then. But back before the band there was a young girl who had been through a lot – a lot of things that are harder than anything I’ve ever had to deal with, and she’d already been dealing with these issues at a very young age. Every time I played this song – she’d ask me to sing something in Spanish – she’d say the song calmed her down. I decided to rewrite that song with her story, and that song evolved into Te Estaba Buscando. And the whole album ended up becoming a statement about these immigrant neighborhoods in the United States that are kind of forgotten. And that really helped me grow as a writer. It was a great steppingstone to what we are writing now. It kind of changed my perspective on songwriting.
Making Movies has new material planned for their visit to Aggieland, including some softer songs to blend with some heavier songs. The group is expanding their youth workshops in their touring.
EC: We want to connect with the community organizers in this community. I feel like if I were to have had the opportunity to hang out with a touring musician as a younger person, I would maybe have a different perspective on stuff.
If you or anyone you know is involved in a youth organization that could benefit from youth music lessons, contact Making Movies at email@example.com.