CULTURE

Chilean Band Name Leads to Controversy in Congress

Their album “Naturaleza muerta” (Still life) is nominated for Chilean Grammys. With more than 10 years Como Asesinar a Felipes is a band internationally respected for their cross-border music. At the same time, their name upset emotions in Congress. 

The Chilean band Como Asesinar a Felipes has become the center of a debate in Congress. A few days ago, the parliamentarian Nino Baltolu (UDI) explained that he would like to know more about the reasons behind the band name, and if it’s living up to the idea of culture. “I don’t know if this is a group or what it is, but it was elected as one of the groups which are to gain state resources. It could have been Felipe, it could have been Juan, it could have been Pedro. We oppose violence and there are laws against these expressions.”

Chile Today took a closer look at the history behind the controversial band name. You can absolutely have different opinions about a band name like Como Asesinar a Felipes, but it could not really have been Juan, nor Pedro. It’s about Felipe. The drummer. Felipe Metraca, drummer in the band, tells more about the controversy and the band’s album nominated for Premios Pulsar 2020. 

Metraca takes the criticism from Baltolu with calm. “This shows that decision makers are not always prepared for the situations they are to deal with. Culture and music is about metaphors and fiction. One must be aware of this before, to evaluate such things.”

The Story Behind the Name

Como Asesinar a Felipes started playing together in 2007. Inspired by the Philadelphia hip hop legends The Roots, they changed the classic jazz set by replacing the trumpet and tenor sax for the turntable and rap.  The band name (translation: How to kill Felipes) came out of this transformation, when the members decided to leave their comfort zone of academic jazz. Symbolically and ironically, they decided to kill themselves (in the name of the drummer Felipe) as jazz musicians, to cut the strings, demolish the piano and scratch the vinyls.

Over the years, the sound has been amplified with influences like punk rock, electronica, and participation of symphonic orchestras. The band has always collaborated with artists and producers like Alvaro España (from the punk band Fiskales Ad-Hok), Camila Moreno, Gabo Paillao, Chino Moreno (from Deftones), and Bill Gould (producer of North American band Faith No More).

Nominated for Best Album of the Year

Their latest album has been nominated to Premios Pulsar 2020 in the category “Best Album of the Year.” 
Naturaleza muerta is an album about our nature and environment, but not just about saving the planet. The nature is something magic, beautiful and full of energy,” explains Metraca. “We have focused more on songs this time. Maybe a reaction to our last album with 40 minutes of improvisation.” 

What do you think about being nominated?
“We are not fans of competitions, but it feels like an important step that alternative music gets more attention. Normally more commercial music take all this space.”

Positive About the Emergency Fund

Last week, Chile Today wrote about the initiative to start an emergency fund for Chilean musicians during the pandemic. Part of the initiative is a proposal in Congress that would temporarily require radio and TV stations to extend the playtime for Chilean music to at least 50 percent. The idea is that the fees from the extended playtime will be used as a solidary fund for musicians who are more vulnerable.

Metraca is optimistic about the initiative. “In neighboring countries where they have made these kinds of decisions, it has lead to a more vital music scene. Hopefully this can give more space to new ideas and not just more of the same.” 

The pandemic has been difficult for the band, but also lead to something new. “We decided to skip organic sounds for a while and totally dedicate ourselves to machines and electronic music on our next album.”

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