The final year of the 2010s saw Miami’s Las Nubes finish the decade on a supremely strong note. In addition to releasing its debut album, SMVT (pronounced "smut") and performing a slew of excellent shows, the band had the privilege of collaborating with an all-time musical great in December 2019. Thanks in part to frontwoman Ale Campos' appearance in the music video for Iggy Pop’s “Love’s Missing” — along with the rock iconoclast's admiration of the band and its song "Hellbag," which he played on his BBC Radio 6 Music program — the group joined the Detroit-born and Miami-based punk legend onstage for his performance at the Gucci x Snapchat Party during Art Basel.
Campos says she has difficulty pinpointing any one defining moment from the whirlwind of excitement Las Nubes has been caught in recently.
“I wanted to do this towards the end of the year, like make a post recapping the year," she divulges. "And, man, there were so many amazing moments. Obviously, playing with Iggy Pop was a freaking dream; that was a huge freaking highlight. Going on tour as much as we did was great; I love that we were able to do that. Meeting all these people along the way, making all these connections, like with the Coathangers — yeah, I don’t know. It was just a very positive experience.”
Naturally, Campos found herself simultaneously pumped up and psyched out over the experience.
"I don’t think I’ve ever practiced as much as I did as I did for that," she shares. "Emile [Milgrim, drummer for Las Nubes] can say the same. I think Emile would spend two to three hours every single day just going over every single song. It was like, Yo, we got asked to do this — we gotta be on our shit."
And they were, so much so that Pop let them know as much during rehearsals.
“He looked at me specifically and was like, ‘You’re playing the guitar solo exactly like Ron [Asheton, late guitarist for the Stooges], and I really appreciate that.’ I was like, Oh, my God! Don’t cry!”
Las Nubes' commitment to excellence is fueling the members' momentum as they embark on a new decade. The powerful indie trio is composed of Campos (guitar/vocals), Nina Carolina (bass/vocals), and Emile Milgrim (drums), along with a rotating cast of live members including Steph Taylor (the State Of), Gabriel Duque (Zeta), and Cuci Amador (Afrobeta).
The bandmates caught up with New Times by phone just as they were stepping into an Uber to grab tacos in Mexico. The trip south marks another milestone for them: It's the first time they've performed in Mexico. They crossed the border on a suggestion by Duque, who's filling in for Carolina on bass for their current tour, which is also taking them through Southern California. He’s also the visionary behind the band’s most recent offering: a music video for SMVT single “Tired of Trying."
Filmed in New Orleans while touring the Crescent City, the video is a throwback to VHS home movies from the '80s — glitchy fade-in and all — and follows the three around as they languidly explore landmarks and record shops. It’s the first of many treats Las Nubes is planning for fans and listeners in 2020.
“We have a lot of little releases coming up,” Campos says. “We have a couple of other videos we’re going to start filming, including one we’re going to film today in Mexico City.”
Duque reveals their next video will be for a song called “Tararear,” Spanish for “hum.” It's not a track off SMVT but rather hails from one of the more exciting projects Las Nubes is set to release: a split EP with fellow ascendant Miami rock band Palomino Blond. It's slated to be shared in March.
“We’ve been around for a little over five years, maybe six, but once we started becoming more of a band, it was when Palomino Blond started playing as well, and we were always very supportive of each other," Campos says. "We always thought it would be sick to put out a split together.” The paring fits snugly: Although the bands don’t necessarily sound exactly the same, they complement each another.
Las Nubes is also set to appear on a compilation album produced by the Fort Myers-based record label Gator Ramen in addition to putting out their own seven-inch assembled by Jacksonville’s Winterland Presents. Campos doesn’t have exact dates for either release but says they’ll be out “hopefully soon.”
The chorus of "Tired of Trying" finds Campos singing, “I’m tired of trying to be happier.” However, in light of Las Nubes' triumphant 2019, it's difficult to imagine her or the band as anything but happy. Is the track as defeatist as it seems?
“I wrote it as a love song for depression, but it’s also saying, 'Hey, it’s OK to be depressed.' You can pick yourself up and be better, but something beautiful can come out of it too. Whenever I’m really, really depressed, I always say the best songs I’ve ever written were when I’m really, really sad. So although it’s something that really hurts a lot at the moment, something amazing and positive always comes out of it at the end.”
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Angel Melendez is an unabashed geek and a massive music nerd. A graduate of Florida Atlantic University and an accomplished failure at two other universities, Angel is a lush and an insufferable know-it-all, and has way better taste in music than you.