Magazine AM:PM
Interviews Alto Stew during the AM-PM meeting "América por su Música". Photo: Dynamicart Alto Stew during the AM-PM meeting "América por su Música". Photo: Dynamicart

Sounds (and tastes) to Alto Guiso

The band has the strength of four women and a powerful, firm sound; His music, speech and performance are distinguished by an impact that leads you to dance and also to discover criticism, posture and struggle for the principles of its members.

Alto Guiso is a young, garage group, created almost casually in 2016 by Ani Books (beats and lead vocals), Sofia Pasquinelli (guitar), Melina Spizzirri (synthesizers and trombone) and her director Flor Crocci (bass), who at that time were already part, from different projects, of the Rosario music scene in Argentina. Three years later the interpreters maintain a constant work with the main purpose of playing, continuing to create and strengthen everything they represent in each new presentation.

Last June, as part of the AM-PM meeting “America for its Music”, and thanks to the support of the National Institute of Music (INAMU) of the South American country, Alto Guiso landed for the first time on the Island and offered four presentations between cities of Santa Clara and Havana. They came to present their album to the Cuban public Psychoguiso, a work with a sound result derived from the musical fusion between the genres pop, funk, rap, rock, and that reflects the power of the creation of contemporary women, their diversity, capacity and determination in modern societies. We offer below a brief tour of the entire imaginary of this Stew in voice of its own members. Serve this presentation and the joy of having witnessed them on stage to invite you to keep track of everything that will happen in the future career of this group.  

Let's start at the beginning, how did the Stew ingredients come together?  

Crocci flower: Ani was the cause of all this. He called us because they proposed a job at a clothing event, where they said "come with whoever you want and do what you want." Then we played in other bands (well, Sofi and Melina continue to play in another band called Hippies Buddhas).

Ani Books: We knew each other because we met all the time in bars and radios as guests of our other projects, we already had a friendship and shared musical tastes and ways of approaching the trade. We crossed into what we call “la movida”, that night activity where live music circulates.

Sofia Pasquinelli: Yes, we had already played together in different combinations for a long time.

And how did the name of the band come about?

AB: It has two points. The first is that we started rehearsing in the time of May, that there [in Argentina] begins the winter, and that is when the stew season begins. The stew is a meal, or rather a cooking method that consists of putting what you have with water and condiments in a pot and leave it for a long time and then eat it. There are three types of stews: some of lentils, others of rice or noodles, but in the end it can be anything. It usually carries vegetables, condiments, meats or becomes vegetarian. It is a very popular meal because anyone can prepare it.

When we started, we rehearsed and recorded where Sofi, she lived with friends who at the end of the sessions were always waiting for us with some stews. And we were the four quite different ingredients of that stew, however, in the same pot we could make our own broth. Keeping the ingredients, but with a fusion, which is what we do musically.

Also, for them to understand, it is Alto Guiso for a video that went viral where a boy is going to buy a hamburger after a football game and they tell him that it will cost him 15 pesos, at that price he replied: no, but if 15 pesos I make high stew. With what came out that hamburger I buy all the ingredients and I make an incredible stew which I eat and all my family.

Melina Spizzirri (synthesizers and trombone). Photo: Dynamicart

Melina Spizzirri (synthesizers and trombone). Photo: Dynamicart

How was the band's style and sound consolidated?

SP: The style of the band was spontaneous and the lyrics that were recorded on the album were sung from the first day we started, at first a little more improvised and then we put them together. We got together to rehearse and about the letters that Ani were bringing; all the letters are from her except Nobody wrote, which Flor composed.

Melina Spizzirri: Musically Alto Guiso was developed as we played in various presentations, because we are a group that has more live work than rehearsals. For example, Flor and I explored other instruments in the band, I played the trombone a lot of time ago, we used it on several themes, but I started interpreting the melodic and finally the synthesizers; Flor is actually a guitarist and started playing bass for the music that was emerging.

This is why we define ourselves more as a fusion band and not of a particular genre, we also share a lot of musical tastes, we come from different branches and all that enriches a lot.         

Since you mention the theme of musical genres, in another statement they commented that their music is: “post apocalyptic hip-hop and digital garage psychorap”. What a super definition! 

AB: We invented it because the gentity always needs to have a gender, so we conceive that in order to give them an answer. It has ended up being post apocalyptic hip-hop, because, although we are still a garage band for all the electronic components we work with, in addition to continuing to test in small places like our homes, we have achieved better tools. At first it was quite crude.

FC: The first EP that we launched, I don't know if it's a garage, but I do low-fi and we recorded it and produced ourselves.

The band's first album was Psychoguiso which was released last 2018. How was the process to conceive the album?

AB: More or less we decided to do it the day after making the band, from the first moment we had the name and everything. We were going on a trip to Brazil and we wanted to bring material to present to Alto Stew so Once we had the lyrics and the tools to do it ourselves we started recording. When we returned we already had a handful of songs, we joined them and put together the album.

The psycho comes through psychedelia, for us it is a very important component, it is the power to express oneself freely, as is humor, creativity and emotions that go beyond what we can perceive with the five senses. It's something we don't think a priori, but it was giving and we enjoyed it, we like it that way, that people dance. We intended it to be a complete work and the text, I don't know, I sat down, wrote it and left without deleting a word. 

Once the album was finished we won a contest from the municipality of Rosario to edit it in physical format, but among the design and format options we could choose there was no place to put the texts of the songs. Then we decided to put together a presentation argument accompanied by a QR code that will go to a place where the letters are and can be read comfortably. This was in the case of the physical version, months after I was on Spotify.

In the album, between the songs, a kind of dramatized story is heard with several characters that talk about the subject of drug use. What are these interventions and why did they decide to use them?

AB: Ah, the audios? That's from a Mexican Televisa novel, we saw several fragments because they were brought by a guitarist who plays as a guest on track two of the album, Cold Birra, and it caused us a lot of grace, we have also always put things in our recordings apart from the songs.

That text says a lot of barrabasadas, very little logical things without common sense and very disinformant. We use it because there are other things within the album that have a militant content regarding these issues. So we take advantage of it as a sarcasm. You have to look for the scene because it is very funny, on YouTube you find it as “Myths and mitotes of marijuana on Televisa”.

In the novel the doctor places a lot of emphasis on the mother, everything happens around the freedom she took from smoking a joint. That is, if the father had done it, nothing happens, but everything falls on the responsibility of the woman to take care of her maternal role above all things. And that is something that we criticize, that we find out of that paradigm and believe possible.

I would like to know about the dynamics of Alto Guiso in Rosario, how your work scene works or how you organize to work.

MS: We have a routine that varies with the activities that appear, as we all work independently, we do not have a structure, but days of rehearsals, dates on which we propose to do certain tasks as bureaucratic and there we sit at the computer, we call them days of Offices. In one of those we signed up to come to the AM-PM, but what we do most is act live.

From day one, before playing the first time we already had two new dates and that is what we do most every weekend. We work a lot in Rosario, and we have been to Buenos Aires several times too. Live we have very diverse activities because we present ourselves in different environments: on the one hand, there are the productions that we do, which sometimes costs us because we don't have much time, but we always intend to make our own events where we can choose everything, where to play, the price of admission or who to hire for the sound. After we have super diverse hiring, we have worked in almost all the bars in the city along with bands of all styles; Finally we also play in a lot of events such as the marches for women's day or on the march for the decriminalization of marijuana. And so we have a very wide range of presentations.

AB: I also believe that the fact of not being pigeonholed in any musical genre makes us open a lot of doors and be able to play in a cumbia, hip hop or rock event.

FC: In addition, the format of the band without acoustic drums has led us to present ourselves in many places where no band had ever been before. In fact, the day before leaving here we played in a gallery in the center for a birthday. We don't think he has played any other band there.

AB: No, I do not think so.   

But the format of the grouping was totally fortuitous, right?

AB: Yes, it was casual.

FC: Yes, everything went well, the Stew did not burn (laughs). It was half a phenomenon, we started playing and rehearsing at the beginning and a lot of dates appeared.

MS: It's also what we like most. There are other bands that prefer to be locked up at home or produce, which is also a choice, but we choose to play a lot live, we enjoy it, in addition to being our daily bread.    

And what do you think about the experience of playing in Cuba?

AB: The truth is that it was a dream experience. From the moment I arrivedHe sent the mail with the call to come here time stopped for everyone, we arrived and discovered a wonderful country with very open people, very willing and generous.

We were lucky to meet Santa Clara and we played three days in a row in that city. In all the spaces that arrived we opened our arms and put everything they had, and what they didn't, they looked for us to feel comfortable.

MS: The Santa Clara thing was half casual; We knew about El Mejunje and the boys from La Trovuntivitis, because they showed up in Rosario two weeks before we came. They played in a place where we used to go a lot and they told us about the place so we could go to this concert and get in touch, because they already knew we would come to Cuba. We went, we listened to them, and then we talked for a while and had a drink. We exchanged the phones and it was good, now we will see what happens, to see if something comes out to take advantage of our stay here. And so, the boys of La Trovuntivitis organized some dates with Yatsel Rodríguez, with whom we played in the Cubo de luz and El Mejunje.

AB: The Mejunje is really a bastion of unmatched cultural resistance, it is felt in its history, in that of its director, in everything.

MS: As soon as we arrived in Santa Clara Ani went to make a note on television, there they were also interviewing some boys for a hip hop event, they kept talking and they scheduled our third presentation.

Then, here in Havana, they put all the dance, love, interest and affection for what we do and it was very enriching, too. In total there were three presentations in Santa Clara and one here. We really liked working in Cuba, the people were amazing and it was very good.

Ani Books (beats and lead vocals). Photo: Dynamicart

Ani Books (beats and lead vocals). Photo: Dynamicart

And what will they add to the future of Stew?

AB: A lot of plans. The first and one of the most important is to create a second disk. We already have enough songs, from fact, half of the repertoire that we are playing live are themes that are not in Psychoguiso, they are new. And we want to produce audiovisuals, video clips, which we only have one and we would like to address this space of creativity and expression.

Luckily, there are many opportunities to play outside Rosario, which is another objective we have, to be moving.

What can we hear on the next Alto album Stew?

AB: We have huntil the name of the third party, but the next one is going to be called Sweating milanga. Milanga is a way of saying Milanese, and "sweating milanga" is what happens here in the bus and everywhere (laughs) it would be something like: sweating croquettes.    

MS: Another plan that we are already going through is to go toThe great family Someone we incorporate with Psychoguiso it was the designer Juli Roberts who did all the art work and also the flyers of our events; She caught the whole wave of stew well and we already adopted her. Recently, we started working with a sound engineer, La Rechi, who also already “picked it up”, we even wanted to bring it and we were very close. She is also part of the stew. Well, our friend Víctor Sousa, who is from Santos, Brazil, and is now living in our city. He made us the first video clip and it is with whom we would like to make new audiovisuals. Victor was from the first rehearsal, he lived where Sofi and saw the Stew grow with great emotion, we had met in Uruguay, he took us to play in Brazil and two months ago he settled in Argentina and we are glad that he has returned back to the family.

FC: The album we want to start now, first we want to get some themes in singles formats, with audiovisual production because it is a way in which music will begin to circulate. We did not do so with Psychoguiso, which has 13 tracks, a bonus track, and achieving it was a very big effort. This time what we will do will be releasing the songs little by little, otherwise. Finally, we want to comment that, no doubt, we will return to Cuba soon, back.   


Carla Mesa Musicologist and for more. Shy but with character. Music, smile, art, dance, family and friends. I don't lose faith in being a better cook. More posts

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