Brothers David and Rene Pacheco initially thought Tropa Magica would fail. The East Los Angeles duo set out to combine the regular music from their childhood with cumbia, a danceable genre from Colombia, with alternative, punk, and various forms of psychedelia.
A majority of their influence came naturally. Despite the fact that the two brothers from East LA grew up listening to cumbia music, they didn’t really pay much attention to it. It wasn’t until they became musicians that David and Rene returned to that particular sound. Once they did, they began adding more notes from their family’s history and their Boyle Heights neighborhood.
East LA is a proud place. Despite its surroundings, it isn’t just another neighborhood filled with transplants. There are generations that have lived and will continue to live there. Following the Los Angeles River from the San Fernando Valley to Long Beach is the closest visual to a proper historical timeline of the second biggest metropolis in the world you can see outside of a textbook. It’s flat, overwhelming, and full of people who are honored to call it home.
A lot of people don’t see this particular side of the city. Too many times have people driven through the Hollywood hills along Mulholland Drive to stop and look out over the dazzling sea of floating light that is LA, and then turned around to look across the other dazzling sea of floating light that is the San Fernando Valley, and thought: Eh. But there’s a magic there that exists outside of the regular tourist’s realm of comprehension.
Is it rough around the edges? No doubt, but there’s still an atmosphere about the area, like something you’ve never seen before might happen at any moment. There’s inspiration, interesting stories, and unique moments happening all the time between the strip malls and all those houses that have intricate cement facades upon them (or is that just the crystallized formation of years of road smog?). David and Rene wanted to find that, “Thing,” about East LA and reflect it in their music. And they did. Now, Tropa Magica is something different, much like their hometown. Their music is a genre in its own right.
“You know, like the butterfly of everything else we have done before,” Rene told us. “We are just two kids from East LA who grew up with a mixture of Mexican and American Music, and we found our way back, starting from Western Music to Mexican Music, and we evolved into Tropa Magica.”
It’s been called refreshing, brilliant, and charismatic. We couldn’t agree more. Each new release is grounded in its Latino roots and has a definitive Tropa sound, yet it’s still unlike anything we’ve heard before. David and Rene don’t know what direction their music will move in next, but they do know that the sky’s the limit.
“It’s always easier to want to explore and reinvent yourself and stuff, Rene continues. “We tried to focus and hone in on reinforcing what we were good at and just polishing that off and working and growing that, rather than creating a bunch of different synthesis of ourselves. So, our challenge was that, remaining consistent with what we were doing and also remaining independent band.”
Today, they know they made the right decision. They’ve produced over four studio albums, had Netflix appearances, and have shared stages with other legendary groups like Los Tigres Del Norte, Chicano Batman, and La Sonora Dinamita. They’ve also toured nationally and at every premier venue in their hometown, including the Microsoft Theater, the El Rey Theater, and the Hollywood Palladium.