Jennifer Sarkissian works for Nacional Records (born from Cookman International), the only Latin Alternative music label in the United States, and organizer of the Latin Alternative Music Conference. I spoke with her today about the Latin Alternative genre, Nacional, and the LAMC. Here's what she had to say:
Q: How would you define the Latin Alternative genre?
A: I think it's a personal definition for everyone. The most standard definition would be anything that's not mainstream Latin music - music that doesn't fall under tropical, regional Mexican, or pop, which is very broad, but that's a good thing. It allows for all sorts of craziness: electronica, hip-hop, rock, metal - music that isn't normally covered.
Q: What do you think is Nacional's greatest success to date?
A: A big part of our success is just seeing all these albums coming out. For me personally, it's whenever someone tells me how much they appreciate the music, how much they appreciate the quality of the music, or that they learned about a new band because of us. We just won two Latin Grammy's last week for Aterciopelados album Oye and Manu Chao's song "Me Llaman Calle" off of La Radiolina. It's the satisfaction of seeing your bands do well, seeing their albums do well, and spreading the culture and the music.
Q: How did the first LAMC come about?
A: It was something that Tomas [Cookman - founder of Nacional Records] and Josh, another co-worker of mine, came up with 9 years ago. I think they saw a need in the market for an event where people could come together and talk about the genre, could talk about it’s future and basically have that kind of a forum, and it worked and has been doing well ever since. It's a great opportunity for the bands because there's a lot of connections that can be made. What I always tell the bands when they come is, "It is what you make of it."
Q: What artists should Latin Alternative fans look out for?
A: DJ Bitman has a great album that just came out, and we have a lot of artists going back into the studio, so next year should be really exciting. Todos Tus Muertos are coming out with a greatest hits album, Plastilina Mosh is working on a new album, Nortec Collective is working on a new album, The Pinker Tones are working on a new album, Aterciopelados are working on a new album. There a lot of new projects coming out so I'm going to be really busy.
Make sure you check out the next Latin Alternative Music Conference - July 2008, New York City