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"Fayuca" is Spanish slang for the contraband markets that spring up in Mexico. These are places where any assortment of illicit goods can be found and purchased, from televisions to leather jackets, prosthetic limbs to staple foods. And it is where that Phoenix's reggae-punk-Latin rock band gets its name.
"We're kind of the same as the black market, where everything is imported from other countries and sold in one specific market," band leader and guitarist Gabriel Solorzano says of his cross-cultural outfit. "We thought we would import genres from different cultures and then sell it to the people. You can find anything in us, too."
That much is true, as Fayuca deftly merges roots reggae, vintage punk, and traditional Latin music. Cumbia and salsa rhythms propel the music, adding another layer to the always-shifting set of styles.
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"Our sound is so diverse [that] everyone can find something to like, whether you like punk rock or reggae or are a jazz person and want something a little more complex," Solorzano adds. "Our sound is just the music we play in a true fayuca way . . . always open to the idea of never conforming to the idea of one sound, one style, one dream."
The band formed 11 years ago when Solorzano and drummer Rafael Ruiz met in a high school mariachi class. While the mariachi music formed a common bond — both experienced plenty of that style at home with their families — the pair explored other musical avenues during afternoon jam sessions.
"We wrote songs in the practice room when we should have been working on mariachi songs," Solorzano says. "But we never wrote music to be famous. We wrote music because we were kids and needed an avenue to express our beliefs. We wanted to pour our hearts out into the music. We wrote love songs, protest songs, hopeful songs about sticking to your dreams, and anti-war songs."
But, he adds, "We didn't have much of a vision; we just jammed."
A bass-playing friend of Ruiz' often participated, but Fayuca's vision began to take focus when Jared Dieckhoff permanently filled the role. With influences that included metal and funk-punk bands like 311, Dieckhoff toughened up the band's sound with a deep bottom end that rolled with the Latin rhythms to further pump up a crowd.
After playing gigs around the Valley for a few years, Fayuca decided to "stop being a backyard band" and start touring. Solorzano says there was some concern about taking Fayuca on the road.
"At first, we were a little worried the response wouldn't be as good as it is in Phoenix," he says. "But we've been traveling the nation for five years now, and we've noticed across the map, no matter who we're playing for, as soon as we start the cumbia, everyone gets out of their chairs and onto the dance floor. We have to play to the crowd and give them a sound they want to hear."
Fayuca's next Fervor Records album, Barrio Sideshow, is scheduled for a spring release with a video on MTV. Solorzano is optimistic that it will carry the band to a new level.
"We're hoping people catch on to pure honesty. Our music is honest and passionate . . . for people who are looking for something to hold on to with a little substance," Solorzano says. "There are people who really connect with our music, and that's more important than being commercialized and selling a million records . . . I'd rather connect with one person than sell a million records."
It's a long shot, perhaps, but given Solorzano's buoyant enthusiasm and Fayuca's one-of-a-kind dance groove, both just might be possible.