Vamos Bien

Vamos Bien

“We always try to innovate, to tell different stories in our lyrics and find new ways to talk about love,” Calibre 50’s Edén Muñoz tells Apple Music. Vamos Bien returns to the contagious norteño-banda-sinaloense hybrid that has been one of the group’s signatures since 2018’s Mitad y Mitad. Yet the quartet’s new songs explore more terrain than ever before. Amid the corridos, a format they have mastered over the past decade, there is also space for cumbias, ballads, and a bolero, as well as one cover song that will surprise many a fan. “The pandemic completely changed our creative process,” says the singer-songwriter and accordionist. “This time we had time on our side and we could work on things that we hadn’t even thought about when we were living on the road. The pause that the pandemic forced upon us has been a good thing to a point, because we were just going through life way too fast.” Read on as Muñoz details the stories behind Vamos Bien, one song at a time.
A La Antigüita “The title is a reference to the old school. It’s a love song, but the context is different from everything we’ve done before. It’s about old-time romance and how, in a way, we are still doing it the same way because it’s a winning formula—the love letters, the poetry, the flowers—even though it’s all more virtual now. Musically speaking, it’s a very Mexican song. We mix banda and the norteño sound that we’ve always been associated with, but this time we went all the way to the Michoacán rhythms of charanga and huapango, a little bit like the ones that Marco Antonio Solís used in ‘Morenita.’ So it’s a banda cut with charanga and a little bit of cumbia, which sounds half crazy but it’s really Mexican.”
Te Volvería A Elegir “This is on the opposite end of the spectrum [from ‘A La Antigüita’]. It’s a ranchera ballad in the typical Calibre 50 style. It follows a long line of sincere and straightforward love songs which we will never leave behind, because it’s what brings us to the people and it balances out all the crazy things we come up with sometimes.”
Tomar, Fumar, Y Comernos “This is a throwback to the more casual Calibre and what we were doing in 2010, when we had no shame taking on any topic. With all the debate about pot legalization going on now, my friend Dani Carmona and me had the idea of mixing it up with a more sexual story and experiences with three or four people, which is a very taboo subject but very real too. ‘Tomar’ [drinking] represents partying it up, ‘fumar’ [smoking] is a pot reference, and ‘comernos’ [eating each other up] a nod to sex without commitment. Musically, this is another half-norteño, half-banda hybrid.”
Ni Mandándote A Hacer “This is a norteño ballad I wrote with [Sinaloa composer] Javier Rochín, and it’s one of my favorites on the album. It’s the kind of song that resonates a lot when you are feeling great and even more if you are going through a rough spot. It’s about that perfect love that you feel in the early stages of a relationship. It’s this pure love that nothing can touch. On this record I wanted to give a chance to a lot of songwriters that are coming up with good stuff and fresh ideas. I never found a lot of open doors when I was looking for a break, and that’s why I had to form a band and sing my own songs.”
Buenas Con El Valiente “The idea came from the [Mexican] lotería game. The plan was to write a corrido from the point of view of each of [the characters in] the cards. We broke down the story into eight cards, with the ‘valiente’ [the brave one] being the last one and the narrator. It all sounded kind of crazy at first, but it’s one that we all liked in the end because it’s doing something different instead of rehashing the same old things done the same old way.”
Quiérete A Ti “This is one of the musical dreams we got to cross off the list, thanks to all the time that the pandemic gave us. We could add certain rhythms and elements that were new to us, because we have never been this tropical. It was a little scary at first, with all the güiras, the congas, and the crazy bits that made us sound like a salsa band. And it was a good thing to fill the music void that the pandemic has left. We need to fill that up and not fall into an artistic depression. The lyrics are about loving yourself, which is a huge thing to me.”
Voy A Ser Breve “One of the very few boleros we have ever recorded. It’s about those relationships that slowly fade away, those couples that grow apart and don’t even notice that the gap between them is growing wider and wider. It’s a very subtle song, comforting in a way, but the lyrics are really heavy. And I’m not talking just about romantic relationships, because this is something that could happen to you with your friends or your family too.”
Barquillero “We recorded two versions of ‘Barquillero.’ This is the banda one that was released as a single, but the first one was more of a norteño thing, and we decided to include it as a bonus track so that people could listen to it. That’s the process that we usually follow: doing a norteño version first and then adding different elements to it. The lyrics are about horses, charrería, and all that world, which is something deeply connected to our roots and our culture.”
Te Quiero Tanto, Tanto “I made a music tutorial to answer questions that people had about songs—keys and stuff like that. Someone asked me how we went about translating songs from different genres, pop or otherwise, into regional music. I thought it was really interesting and filmed a video to explain it with this song as a reference. It’s a ’90s hit by a band called OV7. As I was recording it, it began taking shape and I was liking it more and more. When I showed it to the rest of the band, I told them it was going to be huge and we all decided to put it together properly. I want to sow as many seeds of good music as I can—deep, meaningful songs that someone will want to unearth in the future.”
El Camarada “It’s about a character that doesn’t have any money, but he has a lot of friends and he’s happy like that. He likes his roosters and his horses, and he lives the life he wants. In the end, friends are worth more than money, and that’s something I say on a daily basis. It’s a really clean, wholesome corrido that a lot of people will relate to.”
Vamos Bien “Another one of my favorites, but also one of the most painful ones. I wrote it at the peak of the pandemic, when I was sick, and I think you can sense the pain and the gasping for air. It’s very personal and has a very special meaning to me. I wasn’t sure that it was appropriate to do a ranchero blues about my own illness when so many people were suffering. That’s why I turned it around to make it a heartbreak story. It gives the record the balance it needs, because we always want to talk about everything: friendship, our people, our rancho and all that, but our feelings and emotions too. It hurts, but it draws you in. It’s a masochistic song.”
Ella Baila Sola “I grew up listening to Organización Zeta, a local band from the Sinaloa area which are now my friends. When I was four or five, I would steal my mom’s pots and pans to play their songs, which were very tropical. I met Juan Zamudio, the leader and main songwriter, at a friend’s party, and I told him that one of my dreams would be to record a brand-new song of his. He told me he hadn’t written anything in years. I don’t know if what I told him was an inspiration for it, but he called me later to tell me that he had written ‘Ella Baila Sola.’ As soon as I heard it, it took me back to 1992 or 1993, when I was playing music in the patio with my mom yelling at me.”
Chito “This kind of corrido is very much what we do, a very personal song where I felt like there were things that I had to get off my chest. It’s the story of my uncle, my dad’s brother, who had a lot of problems and addictions, and ultimately took his own life. And unfortunately, we have a lot of suicide stories in my family. It’s important to write about it, because I want to send the message out that if you are ever in that kind of trouble, you need to ask for help, you need to talk to someone, because there are thousands of people that can help.”
Strawberryfish “I always had the idea to do a corrido with a very cinematic kind of intro. The lyrics are about this cocky guy, very much the opposite character from the one in ‘El Camarada,’ who appears kind of preppy, but he doesn’t see himself like that, and says, ‘I’m not preppy, just come to my house, let’s drink some mezcal and listen to corridos.’ The title comes from ‘fresa’ [strawberry, but also Mexican slang for ‘preppy’] and the line that goes ‘En el peligro anda nadando’ [‘he swims through danger’], just like a fish.”


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