Salt Cathedral was set to release a debut album when New Times spoke with the Colombian electropop duo a year and a half ago. But then there was no trace of it anywhere. What happened?
Singer Juli Ronderos lets out a sigh. "We signed to a new label, so we shelved it," she tells New Times today. "It took us a while to understand why [Ultra Records] didn't want to release it."
Ronderos and collaborator Nico Losada put that roadblock to good use by writing and recording a whole new album they hope to release this year. Miami fans will have a chance to hear the new songs at 1306 next Thursday, May 30. The pair has created an entirely fresh live set that will be drastically different from the live shows Miami saw at Gramps and House of Creatives Fest in 2017. "We'd been playing a similar show for a while," she says. "We put together a whole new show with new visuals and songs no one has heard."
Among the new songs is "Muevelo," which will be released as a single June 14. "It riffs on the '90s track with the same name by El General. It's very reggaeton/dancehall," Ronderos says. Like much of Salt Cathedral's newer work, this song is in the bandmates' native Spanish. "These are the first times we sung in Spanish. It's our main language, but we never did it."
Ronderos says she and Losada grew up dancing to Colombian artists such as Shakira and Bomba Estéreo, as well as to salsa from Cuba and merengue from the Dominican Republic. A move to New York, where Ronderos and Losada are currently based, inspired them to write songs in their second language of English. But Ronderos thinks a shift of language might be the turbo boost their music needed. "We grew up with reggaeton, but there was a bad connotation to it. Guys like Bad Bunny are doing interesting things with the genre."
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Another change to their act is that Losada has begun singing under the stage name "Wonder Boy." Taking up a pseudonym might have been inspired by their recent collaborations with bounce artist Big Freedia, who guested on the Salt Cathedral single "Go and Get It." "Nico found out his girlfriend's best friend was Big Freedia's manager. Nico said, 'I'm going to make this happen.' He begged, and we went to New Orleans and it took us two years to get the track right. Nico is such a fan of bounce. We did three songs, but the one we released was the one that we felt hit our vibes."
So, besides the lost album, two songs with Big Freedia were also dumped?
"It's an eternal quest for perfection," Ronderos says. That philosophy has helped them immensely on the live stage even if it seemingly wastes some time in the studio, she says. "It's all practice, but with playing live, you can prepare [only] so much. But each time, it's like being thrown in a cage with an animal. You just never know what type of animal."