Esta página no está disponible en español.
Buzz Is Building Around Circo
By Jim Abbott
September 18, 2002
Nowadays, Circo lead singer Fofé Abreu favors Radiohead, Stereolab and the Cure, but his earliest influence in Puerto Rico was more innocent.
"I think that every child in Puerto Rico wanted to be in Menudo," Abreu says by phone from Los Angeles. "If you were a guy, you would always say, 'I am not interested,' because it wasn't cool to like Menudo. But all of us wanted to be part of it, because Menudo gets all the girls."
With Circo, Abreu has found an alternative to Menudo and other familiar Latin styles. The band's debut album, No Todo Lo Que Es Pop Es Bueno (Not Everything That Is Pop Is Good), has earned Circo Latin Grammy nominations for best rock album by a duo or group and for best new artist. As the title suggests, the songs are an atmospheric mix of funky, electro-lounge rock that has more in common with U2 than Ricky Martin.
"The title is a statement about originality and creativity and the basic things that enhance our artistic purpose overall," Abreu says. "It's about not trying to do what you do in music or in your lifestyle because of sales or something like that. It's a big thing for us because we're an independent group and doing the music we want without any restrictions."
As a teen, Abreu's Menudo infatuation was short-lived. He became more interested in playing with rock bands that covered American alternative and punk bands including the Smiths, the Cure and Blondie, not typically popular in Puerto Rico.
"Not too many people were doing that," he admits. "Most everyone was into Cinderella and Iron Maiden, more like heavy American rock. It's been a little bit hard having to introduce people to the music, but it's challenging at the same time, and it's better to be challenging."
Circo was formed early in 2001, after Abreu's last group, El Manjar de los Dioses, disbanded. He and pianist Edgardo Santiago and drummer David Perez teamed with bassist Nicolas Cordero and guitarist Orlando Mendez after a series of hasty auditions.
"We knew that they played great, but it was an intensive time. We went into the studio for four months in Puerto Rico and I began to write songs. There was the drive of letting everyone know that that we can do something good, and we can still live as a band."
Abreu, 31, considers Circo to be more bold in its musical ambitions than his former band.
"We fuse different rhythms from electronic music and we're more eclectic in the lyrics. There's a lot of fantasy and magic and descriptions of feelings and sensations."
In addition to the band's Latin Grammy nominations, Circo is building an international buzz that has led to an opening-act stint with Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, club bookings in New York, Los Angeles and Miami, and a showcase slot at the Latin Alternative Music Conference in New York.
It's the culmination of a lifelong dream for Abreu, who focused on music even while completing a master'sdegree in organizational psychology.
"I always had a band. I used to say that it was a hobby, but soon you realize that it's the only thing that is always part of your life."
Abreu isn't concerned about whether the band wins tonight, as long as it is invited to a decent post-show party.
"The nomination gives us the opportunity to let the people know that we exist and then people will take us more seriously. If we win or we don't, we still get a prize."
Yet he considers Circo's independence the biggest prize.
"I'm doing what I wanted to do always. I'm completely happy about the music and very proud. In these times, this kind of creativity by the artists gets lost. Pop stars with the machinery of the industry behind them are taught how to dress, how to talk to the press, how to sing. What we are doing is a victory."