Rafa aka Boom Brass – SOJA
Amid the Noise and Hast Tour
S: Stephen Pond
S: Where are you from? Out of all the instruments to choose from, why did you pick up a trumpet?
R: I’m from Puerto Rico. At first, it was the school. I came from a band program and I started out when I was ten years old.
S: What do you think one of your biggest influences has been on a SOJA fan? Has anything stood out in the past few years?
R: I actually met someone from the Bomb Squad that likes our sound… It is crazy to think that people put our music on to make sure someone doesn’t get exploded.
S: Tell me a bit about your recent tour in South America/Brazil. What was the vibe like and how have you guys grown there?
R: Definitely social media has been our biggest tool/weapon to approach that market and also to the whole world. We are a group that is moved by Youtube, Facebook, etc. It helps because we are not on the mainstream radio. Every year we are growing more. In my opinion, Reggae is music that comes from the Caribbean. The original spoken language there is “Patwa”, which is like broken English. Playing reggae in our language [English], my second language, is a good thing because it is the original language of reggae. When we go to South America, they really appreciate the reggae that is in English. They appreciate the Spanish reggae, too; but, there is something about keeping the gender legit.
S: Have you been able to connect with some of the other reggae bands in Latin America?
R: We are really good friends with Gondwana, Los Cafres, and Los Pericos. We have created great relationships with most of the Latin American bands. There are also the other groups we are close with in Puerto Rico, such as Cultura Profetica and Gomba Jahbari.
S: What are some of the main differences between playing in our room, here at Music Farm, compared to playing for thousands in another country or an amphitheatre?
R: I feel more at home here. When you come here, you know what to expect from the crowd and the venue. The crowd is mainly always pumped. In South America/Brazil, every experience is different and you don’t know what to expect from the crowd. It is more adventurous there; whereas, here you feel secure and relaxed. When you are out there, it’s like, whoa there are a lot of people and you don’t know how they will react.
“No one is a prophet in their own land.” When you go out, you are still foreign artists, so they have this welcoming approach. I can see the difference in how they treat the locals and the internationals. It is the same here; when an international artist arrives, everyone is taking notice.
S: Take me through the Grammy nominations process…
R: It’s a big team. There are a lot of people that come together to make an album. We put the music out there; but, there are people that really know how the industry works. They take notes and put those little details together that they are looking for. It’s like a recipe. We were very happy to find out and be proud of this new experience. A big team makes it possible from the outside, to the recording, to the producers, to the office people. It’s a long process. You can’t just say, “Oh I’m going to make an album that is going to get nominated for a Grammy.”
S: You guys have a lot of artists featured in the Amid the Noise and Haste album. How important is it to share music with friends and to make collaborations?
R: We are personally friends with the bands we play with. We have real life experiences with them. One thing comes from another; you get together and you come up with a great product. Nothing is pre-heated. It is all organically done.
S: I also know you did some solo work with The Movement on their latest album.
R: Yeah, that was a really good experience to try and help them out with some horns. When I collaborate with other groups, I go by the name Boom Brass.
S: What can we look forward to in the upcoming year? What is the game plan?
R: We are kicking off a three-week tour here in Charleston with The Green. We want to get back to the roots, and we are trying to change our setup each year. My favorite place I am looking forward to playing is Red Rocks. We are also doing Cali-Roots Festival, Bonnaroo, and All Good.
S: Muchas gracias por todo mi amigo. Es muy bueno para hablarte.
R: Gracias a vos. We really like this place. It is a great farm for music. I feel very happy for you guys and that you are keeping it together. You can see the difference between the first times we came here and now.