While Miami's current crop of musicians was in diapers banging on a Fisher-Price xylophone, Mario Garibaldi was creating and performing on the local circuit, where over the past 17 years he has fronted bands such as Modernage, Hunters of the Alps, and Private School.
"There have been long breaks and hiatuses between projects, but I guess once you start, that's it. You're cursed forever," Garibaldi jokes.
And now, Garibaldi continues the witchery as he gears up for Hunters of the Alps' long-awaited return.
"I had this overwhelming feeling that things were not done with Hunters," he says of the catalyst for the project's resurgence. "There's a lot of music that I've written or created and ideas that I've had that have been collecting, for lack of better words, throughout the years that never really fit any of the projects that I had going on."
Since the 2017 release of Hunters of the Alps' last EP, Time (How to Love), Garibaldi has been experimenting in his home studio, exploring different genres, music styles, and collaborating with other musicians.
"There are Spanish ballads with song styles that I heard growing up as a kid, stuff that I like that is not considered part of the alternative indie world," he tells New Times. "I've always wanted to see how I can release that sort of material and make it work."
With Hunters of the Alps, Garibaldi is looking to break the mold and defying fans' expectations of what's to come next from the project.
"The idea of using Hunters as the vehicle to [experiment] finally got cemented not long ago when I decided that, fuck it, everything is gonna come out that I've made. It's going to be under Hunters, whether it's a bolero, tropical songs, or whether it's something that sounds more shoegaze dream pop," he explains.
Exploring uncharted musical territory and collaborating with trusted musicians built Garibaldi's confidence to take the sonic leap for Hunters of the Alps' evolution. He admits that over the years, he'd hesitated to act on his yearning to blend genres, for fear of "switching lanes" and his feeling of imposter syndrome.
"I kept asking people and showing some of my friends [the new music]," Garibaldi says. "The consensus was that even though one track might be completely different from the other, the thing that bound them together, which was either my vocal approach or my lyrics, was strong enough to make sure that they somehow still made sense. It helped squash some of the insecurities that we all have."
He says the experience of writing new music, relinquishing control by collaborating with musicians who weren't directly involved with his projects, and shedding the self-doubt was therapeutic.
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Garibaldi collaborated remotely with Firstworld (Kris Alvarez) on Hunters of the Alps' upcoming single, "Cul-De-Sac." The new track, which has a target release date sometime in mid-June on Los Angeles-based Cosmica Records, tells the story of an unrequited middle-school crush.
"I remembered a specific moment in time in my middle-school years where I had this crush on a girl, and I had no idea how to ask her to dance with me at parties," he says with a laugh. "And she was a good friend, and it was just that very innocent, naive moment of hesitation when you don't know how to approach things."
Garibaldi says he's also working on an accompanying music video, within the "limitations of corona." The frontman also names some exciting collaborators for future singles, including his neighbor Rick Moon and Latin Grammy Award nominee Paula Arenas.
"Cul-De-Sac" will be the first of five songs to be released by Hunters of the Alps in 2020.