Mitre: interview with a fresh new talent transplanted from south of the border
Interview: I first saw Mitre, the golden-voiced Mexican singer/songwriter transplanted to the USA, at a small club  in southeast LA, singing with my friend the jazz singer Irene Diaz. I was blown away. Although he sang mostly in Spanish, which I am very rusty on, I knew exactly what the songs were about. He has a tenor that works for rock, ballads, love songs – anything that makes you feel good.The next time I saw him was at the Gibson Showroom in Beverly Hills with a full band and Irene Diaz, IƱaki Vazquez and other special guests."Awesome" is an overused term, but it applies here.

Mitre is a fresh and exciting blend of tango, pop, traditional Mexican music, rock, blues and recorded street sounds from around the world. When he plays you listen closely. When he sings  you listen with your eyes closed and a very large smile on your face. Regardless of language, his music is both universal and unique. He joined me at R360 for a conversation.

Patrick. Welcome to R360 Mitre, your trip to the United States was somewhat circuitous. Could you tell us how you eventually landed in Los Angeles – and why Los Angeles?
Mitre. I believe in synchronicity. That is the magic of music. When you really believe in something,  you hang onto that and the universe and life provides what you need to get there.  I am from Mexico City and I started making music there. Then I developed a fan base in South America – Venezuela, Columbia. And then something weird happened;  my South American fans somehow got my music on Italian radio and people there started listening to it. I became number one in a big station in Milan – even beating people I admired - so I was blown away. Then, I met a great Italian engineer and he invited me to record in Sonic Ranch in Texas, one of the most amazing studios in the world, and that led to an internship and then a job.  I moved to LA later when I got an arrangement with Warner-Chappell Records, and here I am..

Patrick. I know you sing in English and Spanish and Italian. One of your English songs is “Bulletproof”. It is addictive and the message is so positive. I know that it is a love song, but lines like: Every time you hate/ You put a bullet through your own head and love  is bulletproof  are good advice for the world today. What prompted that song?
Mitre. As human beings I think we are in a time when we need to really love each other. I have Margaret Cho, the amazing comedian end singer, singing with me.  I love that song too – it is so positive and optimistic.

Patrick.You begin that song with the sound of marching feet. In other songs you use street sounds and ringing telephones. What is the inspiration behind that technique, of using recorded sounds?
Mitre. My music is very cinematic. This is a concept album; much of this album is about death and loss – not always physical death, but loss. I wanted to let people enter this world, this movie from the first sound to the last sound. I use with marching steps and telephones and ghosts and fantasy to do that.

Patrick. You bring many special guests in to sing with you – you are very generous and confident that way. How did you avoid the ego trip of this is my song and I don’t want to share it?
Mitre. It is all about the music, not about me. It  is about the song and the message. Collaborations allow you to go further as an artist. I needed to step back and let the sound be greater than it could be just with me.

Patrick. The lyrics in “Casi Un Recuerdo” switch from Spanish to English and back again and the musical styles also switch. Tells us about the styles – what are you combining in that song?
Mitre. One thing I like about making music is that I don’t believe in rules. I try to combine Mariachi and other styles;  I love bolero. That song is about  the music I love and the places I have been.
Patrick. Your voice remind me of Elvis. Do you ever listen to Elvis?
Mitre. Elvis was one of my first influences. My mother was a huge fan. I grew up listening to Elvis and the Beatles and to a popular Mexican singer. So I am combination of the two musical cultures.

Last but not least...
Patrick. Another song I love is “Depredador” - a song  of dangerous love. This could be a breakout single and for  those  who understand Spanish, it is a kind of scary song. Did you actually know the person the song is about?
Mitre. I do know the person. It is Jaime Kohen from Mexico City. We met at a writing workshop in Mexico City and he sent me ideas for the album, about destructive love. So here it is. That is his voice at the beginning.

Mitre is available on itunes

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Patrick O'Heffernan
@Music FridayLive!