SIlencio - Karen y Los Remedios's new album in out now!
Behind Karen’s pulsating spectral voice lies vulnerability, contemplation and longing. Chameleon-like foundations explore cumbia in its many forms, crossing the continent with norteño airs, pitched-down rebajados, psychedelia and even traditional Peruvian music, taking in ballads, Afro-Latin percussion, reggaeton and the more electronic sounds of dream-pop, trip hop and downtempo.
A mystical, motley mixture, the ideal soundscape to fight the voices in your head while you melt on the dancefloor and scare away the ghosts of your past, your body surrendering to the dance.
That’s pretty much Karen y Los Remedios, the project led by Ana Karen G Barajas, an artist and arts and social sciences researcher born in Mexico City and raised in Guanajuato, in the company of Mexico City native Jonathan Muriel (Jiony) and guitarist Guillermo Berbeyer (Z.A.M.P.A.), who after many years on Mexico’s alternative scene decided to get together and bring this existential cumbia project to life.
While Karen and Jiony first worked together in 2009, it wasn’t until a mutual friend brought them together in 2016 that they created the instrumental EP Dónde Dormir, released by the VAA label (Various Artists) which Jiony co-founded, specializing in electronic music with elements of nu-jazz, techno, funk, trip hop and traditional Latin music fused with electronic textures. Z.A.M.P.A. released his first EP with VAA before gradually getting involved in the arrangements for Karen y Los Remedios.
Before that, Ana Karen had worked on projects like Internet del Futuro, Perro y Juan, Karen and more. Jiony had reached double figures in solo records and collaborated on projects like CasaNegra, Ser Humano and Extraperrestre, while Guillermo put out post-rock and trip hop with the Z.A.M.P.A. project, produced by Rafael Durand and Fernando González. The stars finally aligned and Karen y Los Remedios was born, partly because of the three members’ relationship with the VAA label, but mostly because Ana Karen was working and studying in China and needed to make cumbia and connect with her roots.
The band now has two EPs: Botanas, Vol15, a powerful exploration of cumbia released by the Shika Shika label in 2020, and Recuerdos de Expiación, released independently in 2021 with a more experimental vibe closer to lo-fi hip hop.
After a process of introspection during the pandemic, Karen y Los Remedios present their first long play, Silencio, an album of nine mostly unreleased songs and two bonus tracks, “Canario” and “Presagio,” taken from their first EP.
The band say their intention with this album is to “speak about the moments when we pause to think about ourselves, to see what is really troubling us, whatever that may be. It’s that vulnerability you find when there’s no sound in your mind, when you speak honestly about your desires, emotions and feelings. A place where “silence is as meaningful as sound.” So the themes in the album have a lot to do with the process of feeling, whether it's falling in love, disillusionment or the essence of living. It’s a melancholy record that makes you dance away the pain, but also offers paths to healing in these hectic times, where loneliness has become a recurring theme, a personal exploration of the constant uncertainty of the pandemic.
Silencio speaks of these deep wounds. It’s about how kindness can give you back your faith in humanity in “Te Pido a Tí”; the feeling of rejection and self-love in “Mi Gran Dolor”; living and pleasing no one but yourself in “Silencio”; feeling things again that you missed about yourself in “Cartas Marinas”; but also the pain when love dies in “Lagrimas” and the longing for a healing love in “Presagio.” An intimate, urgent record for these unstable times.