Alaia D’Alessandro is the compelling frontwoman for the bilingual Pacific Northwest-based rock band, Tres Leches. Whether she’s executing a precise guitar solo or singing into the microphone about music festivals not paying bands enough, D’Alessandro packs a profound punch.
She’s also an integral part of the video team at KEXP 90.3 FM, where she helps put together the radio station’s legendary and popular in-studio performances.
Today, D’Alessandro is on the road with Tres Leches, venturing from city to city, promoting the good word of her band, which itself recently signed to the label, Devil in the Woods.
Here, we caught up with her to ask D’Alessandro about her current favorite Latin bands. Thankfully, she outdid herself and gave us some great inside information. So, without further ado, here are D’Alessandro’s thoughts:
Tres Leches is on the road opening for The Joy Formidable. Since I was a kid I’ve always wanted to see the world. I used to play video games like Fallout where you’d go around learning something about places like Las Vegas and Washington DC in between fights with apocalyptic monsters.
This will be my first time to DC in real life. Hopefully, by the time we get to it, it won’t be in ruins like in the game. Music helps you travel in a similar way to video games. It gives you a little taste of what’s out there. I love all the different flavors you can get from any one location, and how they all mix together and relate to one another.
Now, music is taking me out on adventures. I’m fortunate through my band, my work filming bands at KEXP, and through online video games like World of Warcraft and Left for Dead I’ve made friends all around the world who have opened me up to a lot before having the chance to go explore in person. I have them to thank for introducing me to the bands below!
Below, check out D’Alessandro’s list of bands:
1. La Dame Blanche (Cuba/France)
My dear friend and KEXP colleague Albina Cabrera turned me on to La Dame Blanche (and many others such as Girl Ultra and Barbi Recanati). La Dame Blanche exudes power in its most elegant form, her lyrics often speak of obstacles and her music gives those hardships a path forward. “La Condenada” is about women with cancer who also have to continue to work, so she takes the power from the word “condemned woman” and turns it around, referring to them as warriors.
2. El Shirota (Mexico)
When KEXP went down to Mexico City to film sessions, I was most excited to film a band called Porter, who some online friends from Mexico introduced me to at the end of high school. They were kind of a coming-of-age band for me, so I was heartbroken when they had to cancel their session. I remember sitting on the patio outside Panoram Studios where we were filming, pouting. My coworker Scott Holpainen came up to me and said, ‘Hey, have you checked out this band (El Shirota) yet?? Man, I’ve never seen a band go all out like this on a sound check!’ ‘I’ll be there in a minute…’ I grumbled and reluctantly headed into the studio after a couple of minutes. Man. they blew me away with how they could combine their raw power with a beautiful sense of melody. The room smelled like adrenaline after their session. Not only did I get introduced to a great band, but I also made some very good friends that day who would introduce me to even more great music. Ignacio Gomez and Rubén Anzaldúa from El Shirota showed me these next three bands.
3. Las Nubes (Miami)
Clever hooks and heavy guitars evoke that melancholic space between the feelings of something is wrong and it’s going to be okay. One of the bands I’m most looking forward to seeing at Freakout Fest in November in Seattle, Washington.
4. Patio Solar (Chile)
Their name is very fitting for their sound, which is like a sunbeam descending down to bring a little light on a cloudy day. Super satisfying pop melodies with backing vocals so catchy you thought they were the hook, but on the second listen they were a memorable outro that captured you with a ray of warmth.
5. Diles Que No Me Maten (Mexico)
Their music is pretty cinematic in the way it can run scenes through your head. They’re actually a great soundtrack for tour moments. Driving in the middle of the night, the rest of the members of the band sleeping in weird positions, your company is the crescent moon. Passing random statues of T-rexes along the road. Laughing at things you had to have been there for. Jonás’ low, cool spoken vocals parts lend themselves to a kind of narration to these types of moments, over distant echoing guitars, drums, and bass that present over a number of genres from rock to jazz to experimental.
6. Mujercitas Terror (Argentina)
I guess I like bands that depress me but also guide me through that depression. Hopefully, Mujercitas Terror don’t mind me drafting them as my therapists. The guitar lines in “Chicos en Penitencia” give me a similar feeling to listening to “Stay Free” by The Clash. Something that drives you to look back, like a car speeding down the road in reverse.
7. Canalon de Timbiqui (Columbia)
I remember Canalon de Timbiquin being a party at NRMAL, a festival out of Mexico City. The Afro-Columbian band’s infectious group vocals supported by marimba and guasá percussion made the crowd want to sing and clap along.
8. Ete Y Los Problems (Uruguay)
I was looking for their song “Jordan” for a while and then realized the problem was that I had the wrong band. They remind me a lot of the revered Argentinian band El Mato A Un Policia Motarizado. Smart phrasing of the guitar that feels familiar but offers something new like meeting an old friend that you haven’t spoken to in years.
9. Las Ligas Menores (Argentina)
Bouncy indie rock with grabbing guitar lines that battle the bass for the hook, playing back and forth under sweet, inviting vocals. They’re great!
10. Boogarins (Brazil)
Six years later, they are still one of my favorite artists whose session I’ve had the pleasure of filming. No idea what they are singing about most of the time but the ethereal vocals and spacey guitar make me feel weightless. I’d describe their genre as Epic Happiness between their sound and the way Dinho Almeida smiles when he performs. He also passes me a list of Brazilian bands to check whenever they’re in town, such as Kiko Dinucci, Emicida, Jupiter Apple, and Mercenarias.
Photo courtesy Alaia D’Alessandro