From New York to Montevideo, Two Musicians Collaborate Across Cultures
“World music with teeth.”
This is how musicians Alberto Botero and Francisco Lapetina describe their collaborative sound — and it paints an accurate illustration of Guillotine Riot’s latest album, a blend of industrial/electronica edge, punk rock attitude, and experimental soundplay. With song titles like “Namaste Motherf#ckers,” politically charged lyrics, and a tagline that boldly proclaims “THIS IS WHAT DEBAUCHERY SOUNDS LIKE,” there’s no doubt that their beats have bite — in the best possible way.
Perhaps the most intriguing part of their latest foray, however, lies not in the album’s lyrical smarts or unique sound: The project was brought to life across two different continents, via a collaboration between Alberto’s band and Francisco, a Uruguay-based musician with a multidisciplinary background in experimental electronic audiovisual work.
The backstory begins online: When Alberto, whose own expertise is in experimental noise and electro acoustic music, saw a Facebook post about VAWAA, he was curious to see if there were any musicians on the site. When he saw a vacation with Francisco, he was thrilled — it seemed a perfect fit.
“Francisco seemed to have the missing piece we were looking for that would help us take Guillotine Riot to another incarnation,” the band tells us in an interview.
Alberto booked a VAWAA experience with Francisco. The two then connected and started preparing riffs and lyrics, even before Alberto arrived in Montevideo. Once they met, however, they threw it all out in order to let inspiration strike spontaneously.
“We started from scratch,” he says. “We sat down the first day and started making music with things around the studio: toys, chains, household appliances, real instruments (guitar, bass, drums), handclaps. We started writing lyrics on the spot that went with whatever noise we were making.”
Christa Imbriale, Francisco Lapetina, Alberto Botero in Francisco’ studio in Montevideo, Uruguay.
In the following days, the duo began the process of extracting songs from the cacophony, pulling melodies from the chaos. “It was the most spontaneous songwriting we’ve ever done,” says Guillotine Riot. Ultimately, the visit went more successfully than either party had imagined it would: They crafted five original songs in five days, and spent the remainder of the visit jamming with other musicians from around Montevideo, including famous artists Gastón Ackermann and Federico Righi.
“I have to say, there was a lot of magic in the air,” Francisco reminisces.
The final song added to the album was even more of a cultural and musical hybrid: The piece has two versions — one in English and the other in Spanish — with two different vocalists.
“For me, this kind of unexpected collaboration involving several artists from different disciplines, countries, and languages is amazing,” says Francisco. “It was challenging — but that’s what made it particularly interesting.”
The off-the-cuff approach that Francisco and Alberto took during their visit fits well with both artists’ experimental styles of making music.
“My musical approach is to listen to what is happening around you,” says Francisco. “You may hear the wind through the trees and find inspiration there. You catch the sounds of nature. It’s like cooking an improvised meal: You just add ingredients to something that’s already on the stove.”
After the in-person collab was complete, Alberto returned home to New York and the band set to work finessing the final versions of the songs. They sent files back and forth until everyone was satisfied.
“We never would have gotten this sound if not for Francisco’s musical midwifery,” says Guillotine Riot.
On top of an incredible new sound and a musically enlightening journey, Alberto has found more in Francisco than simply a professional connection overseas: He even accompanied Francisco to his family’s home in Punta del Este for Christmas last year.
“The best part (aside from the music) is that we have a new friend and collaborator in Francisco,” says the band. “We learned so much about composing and producing from him, and we will definitely work together again.”
The album is set for release in the coming weeks — give a listen to a few of their tunes at guillotineriot.net. All proceeds of the album will benefit Planned Parenthood.