Boston is often associated with a richly Irish background, but walking down the cobblestone streets, one discovers it’s not as simple as that. The cultures of myriad people helped build Boston and continue to contribute to it today, whether it’s through sharing their stories, their food, their clothing, or their music. These multicultural influences allow Boston to thrive, not only with an influx of new ideas and things, but also by allowing its residents to feel more at home by celebrating their roots – a prospect Cordelia and the Buffalo holds close to their hearts.
Mexican by blood, frontwoman Cordelia Vizcaino Leal sees a connection between her roots and her music. Mix that with the backgrounds of her band members – hailing from Norway, Japan, Alaska, and Venezuela – and you get Cordelia and the Buffalo. And none of it gets left out in the music.
“It is important to represent these cultures because they have an astounding organic connection to music that opened my eyes to new landscapes of musicianship. But most of all to inspire our listeners to be proud of their own roots, and learn from them as much. It is because of these cultures that I strive to create art that aims to lift the listeners’ spirit, and wear colors on stage that’ll make people feel like they’ve just walked into a welcoming tribe with members from all over the world,” Leal said.
And she certainly fills the stage with color. With sparkling, paisley splattered, garish outfits, Cordelia and her buffalos don eclectic outfits that vie for attention against the music. Not a single member is neglected in this costuming effort, drawing equal attention to all areas of the stage. The bursts of color and pattern brought by the members of the band add to the liveliness of their sound, bringing a revitalizing energy to their shows.
Packed full of unique instruments, their latest self-titled EP features everything from set drums to the Aztec Ayoyotl. Leal hopes that her personal infatuation with Mayan and Aztec instruments will produce something unique and captivating. She pairs these uncommon and traditional instruments with a modern electronic sound, creating the essence of Cordelia and the Buffalo. “They’ve inspired me to combine their organic sound with electronic ear candy I sound design. It’s like my little experiment to make interestingly weird songs, yet portray a meaningful message within the lyrics. All the while representing the roots of our band.”
When first listening to Cordelia and the Buffalo, one may be caught off guard as new sounds assault your ears. Twangs and pops, shimmering strings, echoing hollow beats – these and more are part of the sonic revolution brought by the unique instrumentation the band utilizes. It’s refreshing, particularly in a world overwrought with the guitar and drum combo that, while catchy, is a tad tiresome. The use of these traditional instruments also allows Leal to be more connected to her roots, channeling the energy her ancestors surely felt while striking a chord or pounding a drum – which can be felt in the music: an added layer of personal connection, which inspires the listener to listen more intently.
We asked Leal Sound of Boston’s signature question: How would you define your music without genre labels? She emphasized the hybridity of her music, calling Cordelia and the Buffalo “a tribal and eclectic fusion of dynamic beats, exotic instruments, powerful lyrics and melodies set out to spike the listeners’ interest, and open their minds.”
As Alice from Lewis Carroll’s famous novel once said: “I give myself very good advice, but I very seldom take it.” The best tips are to be taken from those who actually perpetuate those beliefs, and this applies to Cordelia and the Buffalo. Leal lives the words she speaks, embracing multi-culturalism both on and off stage. Her colorful personality and style cling to her in her personal and performing life.
Cordelia and the Buffalo plan to begin work on music videos to accompany the EP, though no release date has been announced. Until then, Leal believes we should open ourselves up to other cultures and meet new people in order to further diversify our culture. One way to do this is from traveling – and you can travel up to Canada on August 2nd to catch the band at Osheaga Music Festival. “You won’t regret culturally thinking outside your box. Trust me, I still haven’t,” she said.