- Cafe Tacvba
- Julieta Venegas
- Tegan & Sara
- Mexican Institute of Sound
- Miho Hatori
- Saint Etienne
- Gaby Moreno
- Natalia Lafourcade
- Carla Morrison
- Francisca Valenzuela
- Dan Deacon
- Nina Diaz (Girl in a Coma)
Melodic, sweet and tough as nails, listening to María del Pilar is like hearing the soundtrack of a quinceañera for a riot grrrl. Former lead singer of Los Abandoned, she was the voice of the bilingual youth movement in the U.S. during the early millennium. Now she has taken her sound to a more personal level, adding her beloved ukulele and a prolific ability to spin out intimate pop songs that rock.
This is María del Pilar’s time. The one-time voice of America’s DIY/bilingual youth movement is now a sophisticated solo artist, garnering acclaim from aficionados as eclectic as her work. In the past year, her song “Miss Funeral” was featured on NPR during Alt Latino’s “Undeniable Strength of a Great Song,” episode. Her single “Ilegal En Estyle,” was named by OC Weekly as one of the decade’s top ten songs about illegal immigration and was included on a list of notable immigration songs by PRI’s The World. Abroad, her single “En el Dancefloor” rose to #6 on Mexico City’s influential Reactor 105.7 2014 Countdown after becoming that country’s song of the summer.
It’s a broad appeal earned through distinctive songwriting choices like bilingual lyrics, odd-meter tempos, and infectious hooks. María del Pilar (MDP) credits those choices to her background as a Latina, an immigrant, and a pop music lover with punk rock roots.
One person whose attention it drew is that of Mexican Institute of Sound’s Camilo Lara who recently brought MDP to his Mexican label, Casete. It was Lara who first helped put MDP on the map as the lead singer of Los Abandoned in the early part of the millennium, and she’s happy to pick up where the two left off.
Perhaps another sign that her solo career has arrived is the invitation to perform at 2015’s Vive Latino. The annual, three-day, Mexico City event is Ibero-America’s most important music festival and it’s a stage MDP is ready to attack with performances that are at once visually engaging and musically intense.In addition to a new album in the works, this year fans will enjoy a re-release of MDP’s album Songs+Canciones I on Casete complete with bonus tracks: an “En el Dancefloor” remix and a new, live version of “Miss Funeral,” plus songs from her original, debut EP.
MDP also appears on the highly anticipated collaborative project from Lara and former Control Machete mix-master Mad Decent’s Toy Selectah. If ever two producers could handpick the world’s most interesting group of musicians, it’s these two. The album, entitled Compass features an incredible 80 stars from around the world including the likes of Boy George, MC Lyte, and of course, our girl MDP. If Compass is, as Toy says, a “PhD thesis on global music production,” then MDP is a worthy source for their higher education.
Still, María del Pilar has no fear about maintaining accessibility. It’s at the core of her sensibility. “I like the raw connection with an audience,” she says. “We’re in this together. That’s why I make music. For people to get through their shit. It’s what I love to do.”