Portugal, October 1980. A fairly unknown band at the time - UHF - launches a single called Cavalos de Corrida (Race Horses). It was the beginning of a new movement – Portuguese Rock. An aggressive iconic song, metaphoric of the struggles of Portuguese working class at the time… still relevant, still poignant, still known to Portuguese youth today.
Which made me look twice when I came across a UK-based band called Cavalo (Horse in English) with Portuguese roots. Aggressive, creative, energetic… With the promise of some great races…
Line-up consists of 3 brothers - Mat Vilchez (singer/guitarist), Paulo Vilchez (drummer) & Jonas Vilchez (guitarist, bassist, back-up vocals) – and the Image they created for their band is… Nah, I’ll let you find out.
Mat, Paulo & Jonas are a fun bunch to chat with as you are about to find out…
Crow Xp: Mat, Paulo, Jonas… Welcome. It’s the first time I interview all members of a band, which is fun. So, you are brothers… I can’t help but ask… How are family rehearsals?
Paulo: First of all, thank you for having us. Well, if you must know, the rehearsals are both fun and chaotic. Just how we like it! For anyone who’s ever done some type of project with family members, they’ll know exactly what we mean. We may have our disagreements sometimes, but it’s always exciting at the end of the day! Nonetheless, we always share a common goal in our rehearsals- the making of great music to suit anyone interested in the different genres we incorporate in our songs.
Crow Xp: What made you choose Cavalo as the band’s name?
Mat: We’ve selected the name Cavalo because of the different symbolic meanings it carries. In certain cultures, it represents power and beauty, whilst in others, it represents freedom without restraint and movement. Cavalo has lots of connotations, like I mentioned before, beauty, freedom etc., however, one of the reasons that we also chose this name, is because it’s associated with energy. We try our best to inject a good dose of energy into our audience’s spirits when performing. As you can see from a few of our clips, there is lots of it but one that is fairly visible, is dancing. Dancing is something that I particularly like to do live. As an individual who has a fair background in the entertainment world, when performing with the band, I try to capture every little drumbeat or guitar line into a body movement. In other words, I like capturing sounds with my body and broadcast them to the viewer.
We believe, that the name characterizes the music we make in so many ways. I mean, whenever we write a song, we’ll usually strive to write it regardless of specific musical genres or particular arrangements that may be attached to genres, if that makes sense. But these are only some details about it, we’d recommend for anyone to check our music so as to evaluate it themselves and know what we’re about.
Crow Xp: There’s obviously much work & pondering put into your image… Jokers, huh?
Mat: Jokers is a good term to use to illustrate what is seen on our video clips, however, I don’t think our initial image concept for the clips were Jokers, but, I think it’s being interpreted by the audience that way. It’s an ambiguous image and we are happy with how the public is reacting to it. However, I must address the question and explain to the reader that our primary idea was to look like some sort of underground characters out of a Tim Burton’s movie. We are all great fans of Burton’s work, so why not create something that would be visually intriguing and mix it with our music? We put a lot of thought into this image and the making of these half-dead, tophat-ed, hellish gentlemen characters and according with some of the spectators, Jokers.
Nevertheless, I must say that this image would never have existed if it wasn’t for the talented makeup artist, Olga Korobczewska, who worked tirelessly to create a makeup design to partner with our outfits. And, she also was the ‘cameraman’ for all 14 clips. She’s an incredibly gifted person. I should also enlighten the public that this image was only used for the video clips, in live gigs, we wear whatever is at our hand. Sometimes even pajamas go…
Crow Xp: Being family… how do you structure things in the band? Is the eldest brother the one in charge?
Jonas: One would perhaps think so, but no. The three of us started Cavalo, so we all have the same degree of control as well as responsibility. And this includes all aspects of the development of the band, not just in musical terms. Quite simply, we all have an obligation, so to speak, of handling social media performances and other related things. In terms of growing the band both musically and artistically, I guess we’re a bit lucky as Mat is a creative director and Paulo is a sound engineer. So all in all, we currently don’t have to depend on other people to either record our music or create artwork for us. And I sort of fit in the middle, by helping both of them with ideas or whatever is needed at the time.
Crow Xp: Your father being Peruvian and your mother Portuguese to what extent did those cultures influence your sound?
Jonas: The sound that we make, like we said before, hasn’t got a specific genre, but we believe it has influences from music that we like to listen to. Cultures wise, although we spent a great part of our lives in England, we will never turn our back on our roots, which primarily come from Portugal. I think both our parents’ cultures and our current culture that is English; have given us a lot, musically wise. We’ve learned to embrace what these three cultures have to offer in terms of music, and have managed to create something that could be seen as quite unique, innovative, visually stimulating and fun; fun for us, and for the public as well.
Crow Xp: Tell us a bit about the band’s story?
Mat: Basically, the band started when the three of us decided to join forces and start a music project. One of the main reasons that drove us to get together, was because we were all struggling in solo projects or with other bands. One of the primary reasons was the lack of commitment from other musicians. We wanted to spend more hours in the studio, discovering and creating new sounds, engaging fully with the wonderful world of making music, writing original material, but a good percentage of musicians these days, if they’re not being paid, are not likely to spend too many hours unearthing fresh sounds. We are not saying that we have created something utterly new, all we’re trying to channel to the public, is that we’ve tried our best and have stained our studio’s floor with our own blood to make this project happen. Back in 2013 when we first started, we were living in London quite securely; we had a fairly comfortable life, with our 9 to 5 jobs and a just paycheck at the end of the month, life was good!
However, we knew that the comfortable life that we had created for ourselves wouldn’t last because of our nature – this might have something to do with our background and cultures as well – we craved something that we didn’t have at the time, and that was music. Consequently, we packed our bags and moved to a small town in Northern England, called Carlisle. This was a much cheaper place to live and allowed us to focus more on our goal of music making. I still remember the long hours that were spent in the studio in the first year of the project. For the first year, we’d place between 7 to 9 hours a day creating music. Sometimes 6 days a week. Once we had cemented a few sounds that we liked and had created, we began recording them. So far, we have three EPs (demos) with Cavalo and are currently looking for a label to sign us so that we can record our first album. So, if there are any producers, labels, music agents etc., out there reading this interview, we humbly ask you to have a listen to our material.
Crow Xp: What have you been working on since? Any upcoming releases?
Jonas: Right now, we’re not actively making new material with Cavalo. We’re focused on getting signed and recording our first studio album, which we think will be a combination of all our 17 tracks mixed into a record of 8 to 10 songs.
Crow Xp: You have another project together… wanna share a bit about that? Not too much tho, as I will interview you on that one later on haha
Paulo: Yes, I may as well tell a little about it. The project is called “The Vilchez Brothers” and it’s for people who have musical interests in the genres of Rock, Modern Blues, Stoner Rock and a bit of Garage Rock. The three of us are in it, but with slightly different roles this time around. There’ll also be a couple of more people who’ll come in to complete the line up. Mainly a drummer and a bassist.
We’re currently working on our first E.P, which will be finalized soon. We have, however, one song on Youtube titled “Haunted House”. It was released a few months ago and I’d urge anyone who enjoys listening to new artists to check it out. We promise a huge evolution as musicians and a wave of energy online and offline. It will be worse than a virus; it will be like a plague that will shadow the hearts of every entity that comes into contact with our songs. The birds and the bees will sing along with the lyrics and the sea animals will replicate the instrumentals with their god-gifted voices. We’re determined to make a name for ourselves. Let’s get the world jumping up and down.
Crow Xp: That’ll be something! Thanks for the chat, bros. ;) Looking forward to your new material.
Cavalo: Thanks for having us. Hope you see us on the big stage one day.
Much Love, Cavalo