One of the most difficult things to pull off as an artist is an authentic reinvention. This gets harder as a career progresses. Shifts in artistic direction either alienate the core fanbase or are seen as avaricious moves to sell out. One of the few ways to navigate that treacherous terrain of the late-career adjustment is by staying true to yourself regardless of the critics, and that’s the path that Pepe Aguilar has embarked on with his latest record, No Lo Había Dicho. Following in the footsteps of his 2014 Unplugged record, No Lo Había Dicho sees the pivotal ranchera and mariachi singer fully branch out, the album mixing pop and straight-up rock with traditional Latin music, all with Aguilar’s assured and classy touch. AXS spoke with the pivotal ranchera and banda singer via email about how technology has made music more fun and the future of ranchera music. Read below.
Pepe Aguilar will come to the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles on Saturday, April 22. Grab your tickets here.
AXS: You’ve explored several different genres in your career. How do you stay true to yourself as an artist when you’re looking to experiment with other styles?
Pepe Aguilar: Precisely by branching out is how I stay true to my essence. I have created a career dedicated to Mexican music; as an artist, I have been an independent artist long before it was “cool” to be independent. If I make music for myself, the audience responds way better to the type of communication we create at the concerts.
AXS: You have over 25 studio albums under your belt. With such a long career, what are the biggest challenges you face now as an artist and musician that you didn’t consider earlier in your career?
PA: I believe there were many challenges at the beginning of my career, one of them was figuring out a long career. Now in the era of on-demand and super-connectivity, the fun factor has grown exponentially! Fans can take the music they love everywhere they go, as an artist, that is amazing. As a musician, technology has brought many advances that help us create music at a higher level, and that is pure pleasure.
AXS: What are some genres or projects that you’ve wanted to explore in your career that you haven’t been able to do yet?
PA: It is really not a matter of being able, it is more a question of what my essence takes me. Take for example my most recent album No Lo Había Dicho where I incorporated rhythms that were not “traditionally” Mexican such as Cumbia and Vallenato and yet, the album is still Mexican music.
AXS: What are your favorite songs to perform from No Lo Había Dicho and why?
PA: It is never easy to answer this question. It’s the same as choosing a kid as “favorite." There is not really a song that I like better than others since they all give me different satisfactions, like my children.
AXS: How have your performances and live show transformed over the years?
PA: Technically? A great deal, as I mentioned earlier technology has not only revolutionized the way we make music but also how it is presented. I hope that emotionally my show never changes. Live communication between artist and audience is something that escapes definition.
AXS: Where do you see ranchera and banda music going in the future?
PA: It is up to the new generation to take our music to the next level anything else would be tragic.
AXS: How do you want fans to feel when they leave a Pepe Aguilar show?
PA: Exhilarated, exhausted, happy and wanting more.
Pepe Aguilar will play the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles on April 22. Find ticket information here.