Like Sly and the Family Stone, The Clash, and Public Enemy before them, Los Angeles rockers Ozomatli believe change is possible through the power of music.
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Formed in 1995, the Grammy-winning group mixes the eclectic sounds of Chicano SoCal—salsa, funk, jazz, reggae, and hip-hop—with socially charged lyrics that preach freedom and denounce injustice. Over the last 20 years, Ozomatli’s energetic live shows and political activism have earned them critical acclaim and a devoted fan base.
Welcome to The Conduit, a podcast featuring candid conversations with professional musicians who give listeners the unvarnished truth about being an artist in the music business today.
In today’s episode, host and L.A.-based DJ, producer, and musician Dan Ubick (aka Constantine “Connie” Price) sits down with Wil-Dog Abers and Raul Pacheco of Ozomatli to discuss the group’s eclectic musical influences and their commitment to social and political activism.
“Every movement has artists and music attached to it,” Will-Dog tells Dan early in the episode. “James Brown didn’t say it’s a universal language for nothing.”
Set to infectious rhythms and catchy melodies, Ozomatli’s music reflects the melting pot of cultures that is Los Angeles.
While they’re known for their distinctly SoCal sound, the group is popular around the world thanks to their extensive touring schedule.
Whether supporting Carlos Santana on his Supernatural tour, working with reggae duo Sly and Robbie, or creating music for children, Ozomatli strives for growth both as a group and as individuals.
“As a group, we’re [always] working hard at being better singers,” says Raul. “I’m taking jazz piano, and it’s been opening me up more [to understanding how] different notes create different feelings, which I never understood before,” chimes in Will-Dog. The two also talk about their scores for Happy Feet 2 and Elmo’s Musical Monsterpiece, a video game that teaches children about instruments, music, and sound.
“[Making music for kids’ films] gave us more freedom to be characters, to play different roles, to not worry about what Ozomatli fans think about it,” says Raul. “That process was actually really helpful for us as writers and how we make music.”
In today’s conversation, Raul and Will-Dog share key lessons from the last two decades of their career. The two chat about leveraging their label’s marketing strategy, treating their manager like a business partner, and their new LP, Marching On.
Order the album here, then tune into this month’s episode of The Conduit for a fascinating conversation with the purveyors of SoCal sound, Ozomatli.