After a seven year recording hiatus, Chilean electro-pop group Lulú Jam! have a new album out called Temporada Alta. The path of my discovery of Lulú Jam! is, I think, kind of amusing in that reveals something about the changing landscape at the intersection of technology and recording. I moved to Los Angeles in 1999 and one of the first bands I heard on the now-defunct Spanish indie station that I liked was “Tren al Sur” by the by-then-disbanded Chilean group, Los Prisioneros. More than any other band, Los Prisoneros opened me up to South American pop — not sweaty, clenched fist, sing along with the jukebox, pirate-shirted “Rock en Español,” but pop.
A Venezuelan contacted me via LiveJournal and sent me a jpeg (this was before YouTube) of a video by Argentine band Miranda! and I caught a video for another of their songs, “Romix,” on LATV. When Myspace launched, it’s only obvious improvement over Friendster was that there bands could have profiles and Miranda!’s “Myspace friends” included several bands, the most interesting of whom were Lulú Jam!, a Chilean band with which they’d more than once shared a stage.
I ordered a copy of Lulú Jam’s second compact disc in 2008, just as the sun was setting on the Album Era and aluminum discs ceased to be the preferred format for recorded musical expression. No music followed for a couple of years and I periodically checked their Facebook page to keep up with their adventures — hoping for more music or performances in the US. They released a new song on Soundcloud in 2010 and I’d almost given up hope until yesterday, when I was expanding my Pop En Español playlist and found that lo and behold a new album had dropped in March. I’m only just listening to it now. As far as I can tell, it thus far exists only in digital form. If that changes, I’ll update this piece and let your know.
The members of Lulú Jam!, Sofía Oportot, Pía Cichero, and Takaomi “Taka” Saito, met one another at a party in the spring of 2002. Cichero was a dancer on the children’s show, Mekano. Oportot was a dancer with the group, Cuerpo de Baile Maniquí. Saito was a Japanese immigrant who at the time spoke littleSpanish but learned it as a member of the group, which formed a few months later in Santiago.
Lulú Jam! released their debut, Corazón Caliente in 2003. It was produced by Claudio Valenzuela, frontman of the rock band Lucybell. For anyone familiar with Lucybell’s collective penchant for reflective shades, designer denim, and goatees, Valenzuela might seem like an unlikely choice to produce an album of dance-pop and house but I wouldn’t be surprised if he was suggested by someone from Warner Music, who released the album. The first single off the album was “Bombombéame.” It was followed in 2004 by “Chocolate bom” and in 2005 by “Si quiero te lo doy.”
In 2006 Cichero left the band to return to Mekano, this time as the series’ co-host. Her replacement was Korean-Chilean Nara Back, who’d previously embarked upon a solo career as Anish (often stylized “aNISH”). The new line up released the single, “24 horas,” shortly after which Saito left the band, reportedly to spend more time with his family. Saito was replaced by Jaime Zapata and the new line-up recorded Suban el volumen in late 2007. It was released by Feria Music in 2008 and benefit from increased heft and melancholic meldocism. Two singles were released, “De amor no quiero hablar” and “Superhéroe.” In 2009 Lulú Jam performed in Seoul, to date (as far as I know) their only performance outside South America.
In 2009 they released a third single, “Tu luz,” which was followed in February 2010 by a non-album single, “Amor de verano” — which sounded promisingly like post-commercial OMD crossed with Ace of Base. Promises were made online that a third album was to follow in 2011 but five years would ultimately pass before the release of Alta Temporada, which included the single, “Bonsái.” In addition to Facebook and Myspace (it’s still a thing), you can keep up with Lulú Jam! via their website and Twitter.
Eric Brightwell is an adventurer, writer, rambler, explorer, cartographer, and guerrilla gardener who is always seeking writing, speaking, traveling, and art opportunities — or salaried work. He is not interested in writing advertorials, clickbait, listicles, or other 21st century variations of spam. Brightwell’s written work has appeared in Amoeblog, diaCRITICS, and KCET Departures. His work has been featured by the American Institute of Architects, the Architecture & Design Museum, the Craft & Folk Art Museum, Form Follows Function, Los Angeles County Store, Skid Row Housing Trust, and 1650 Gallery. Brightwell has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post, Los Angeles Magazine, LAist, Eastsider LA, Boing Boing, Los Angeles, I’m Yours, and on Notebook on Cities and Culture. He has been a guest speaker on KCRW‘s Which Way, LA? and at Emerson College. Art prints of his maps are available from 1650 Gallery and on other products from Cal31. He is currently writing a book about Los Angeles and you can follow him on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
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