Puerto Rico's Buscabulla Makes Miami Debut at House of Creatives

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Buscabulla likes it dirty — but not too dirty.

The husband-and-wife duo of Raquel Berrios and Luis Alfredo Del Valle recently released its latest single, “Tártaro,” an homage to '80s salsero Frankie Ruiz. It’s the latest in a line of slinky, Spanish-language synth-pop gems that include “Caer” (“Fall”), “Sono” (“Rang/Sounded”), and “Métele” (“Shove it”). For the music video to “Tártaro,” the pair guerrilla-filmed inside of an infamous sex hotel in Puerto Rico, the OK Hotel. But all was not as sultry as it appeared on film.

“We brought a lot of cleaning products,” Berrios laughs. “I think they have people that clean these places, but I don’t think they’re very thorough. Let’s leave it at that.”

“The second day, we went into one of the more renovated rooms,” Del Valle adds. “We sat on the bed and when we looked to our left, there was a used condom wrapper and a used towel. We had [to] pack all the fucking camera equipment, all the lights, everything back into the car and tried to speak to management about getting a new room.”

Considering their careful but brazen approach to the video, it may not surprise listeners to learn why they chose the band name Buscabulla and why one journalist called Ruiz its “spirit animal.”

“Buscabulla,” Berrios explains, “is slang in Puerto Rico for a ‘troublemaker.’ It’s that sort of word that people use in the streets, as they say. I don’t know exactly how it came about... I guess I liked that it has sort of a bad connotation, but if you separate it — ‘busca’ y ‘bulla’ — ‘bulla’ is actually good, [it means] cheers by people. It’s the sort of name that could be good or bad.” 

But “Tártaro” definitely speaks to the naughtier side of their name and, in particular, the artist that inspired the track, famed Puerto Rican salsa singer Frankie Ruiz.

“He has a peculiar type of charm to his melodies,” Del Valle says. “The contents of his songs are always dirty, sort of naughty.”

Berrios expands on that contrast. “He was sort of a bad boy and wore a lot of gold and was a womanizer, but he had such a beautiful, impeccable voice. He was clearly talking about extramarital affairs and things that weren’t kosher. There’s something about those contrasts that we really like.”

Buscabulla finds inspiration in many places, both traditional and otherwise. “I think we’re always combining things that are sort of popular and Latino,” Berrios says. “I would say stereotypes, like Reggaeton and salsa and the edgier side of the culture. But then we also look at Sade or classic R&B and other sounds that aren’t necessarily streetwise.” Buscabulla combines it all to create what Berrios calls "the Caribbean music of the future."

Fresh off of a tour opening for native Floridian and III Points alum Helado Negro, Buscabulla will bring its sleek hybrid of sounds to Miami for the first time this weekend at the House of Creatives Music Festival. Although Berrios’ mother and sister live in South Florida, it’ll be the group’s debut in an area they consider their “second home.”

It’s a bit unexpected that Buscabulla have never played Miami, seeing as how all its lyrics are in Spanish. But the grooves, the vibes, the ethereal sexiness of its music go beyond any spoken language.

“A lot of people that don’t speak Spanish really connect with [our music]. A girl after a show said, ‘I read about you on Fader and you killed it.’ Anytime anyone says anything like that, we feel like we’re doing something sonically that’s transcending that language barrier. I think so far people are really liking it and digging it.”

Buscabulla at House of Creatives Music Festival. 3:15 p.m. Saturday, November 19, at the North Beach Bandshell, 7275 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-672-5202; hocfest.com. Tickets cost $55 for Friday admission, $70 for Saturday admission, and $110 for a weekend pass via flavorus.com.

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