For last year's annual Culture Shock music festival, I had the pleasure of talking to the members of The Skaaholics. The local Bloomington band is made up of five members; Omar Aguilera on keys, guitar, and accordion, Ray Sarmiento on drums, Angel Ochoa on guitar, Dany Inche on bass, and Kcun on vocals. They are a fusion band that combines elements of Ska, Rock, Reggae, Punk, Dub, Hip-Hop, and Latin rhythms.
I began the interview by asking about the formation of the band. Ray and Angel enlightened me about how there had been, “multiple iterations of the band” and that it was, “just a bunch of friends” that, “all played music on their own” who would go to concerts together. Eventually, one day they wondered, “what if we were on the other side” and, “did our own thing.” Angel then told me about how the different members fell into their places in the band since it had different iterations. He stated, “we (Angel, Kcun, Dany) started making ideas in 2014 just trying to make music with Dany as our drummer.” He proceeded to talk about a period when the lineup changed and Ray became the drummer for the band because Dany had a short absence. Angel explained, “that he knew Ray was a drummer so they asked him to fill in and then Dany came back so since we had a drummer he became the bassist” when Ray recalled, “this was five years ago” in 2018. Omar then shared with me how he found his way into the group, he said, “Angel hit him up and asked if he wanted to join the band” this was two years ago according to Omar but was then debated as being longer by the rest of the band until they settled on three.
Once I became more familiar with the dichotomy of this band I started getting down into how they created their sound and their music. Angel informed me that because of the diverse taste of the band, they focused on their “go-tos” and mixed that with a taste of Ska and Latin music. They cited musical inspirations being Rage Against the Machine, System of A Down, The Skints, and Bob Marley and talked to me about how sharing their music, Kcun particularly within his family in Mexico City, has allowed them to influence their sound as well. Kcun also told me that in life he likes to “express himself through lyrics” and how “the things he has read influenced his lyrics.” He talked about how they want to make something different other than the “mainstream sound,” but still have songs about good times and partying. Omar said their big four topics were “immigration, partying, social justice, and love songs”. They are looking to release an album with 11 new songs in the slated future.
To lighten the mood, I decided to close out our interview by asking the guys what songs they were excited to play at the event, who their favorite Ska bands were, and what their favorite song was right now? To answer my proposed questions, they answered that they enjoy playing the songs Mr. Popo and Una Vaz Mas, which I looked forward to hearing them play at Culture Shock, and they told me that they liked the bands Streetlight Manifesto and The Toasters. Finally, in WIUX fashion I asked what their favorite song right now or song of the day was and Angel said “Dizzy on the Comedown” by Turnover, Ray said “Dealbreaker” by Touk, Dany likes “Wish You Were Here (Reggae Version)”, Omar was a fan of “Start Wearing Purple” by GoGo Vodelo, and lastly Kcun has been listening to “In Your Eyes” by Tribal Seeds. Overall, I had a phenomenal time talking to these guys and could not wait to hear their set that weekend.
[Post Show Interview]
At Culture Shock I had the pleasure of watching lots of phenomenal acts but one of my favorites, and the one I interviewed, Skaaholics absolutely killed their opening set. I was again given the pleasure of talking to them for a bit after they performed and got some of their opinions on how the set went. Angel said, “It is always a pleasure to be a part of culturistic events” because they like “presenting combinations of cultures to those who may not be as familiar with them.” Kcun “loved showing their music and culture at an event like this.” They liked playing “Skaaholics Anthem” such as “Mr. Po Po”, and “Una Vez Más” –which are available on streaming.