Was it hard to think of a name that you could all agree on? Where did your name exactly come from?
Gato basically created the name from what was his previous band. SM stands for Soul Malady. We started about 9-10 years ago as a Soul/RnB band with a female vocalist with the last name of Malady. He would compose all the music and she would write all the lyrics. After a few albums and the band breaking apart, Gato started to write lyrics and singing, but to Reggae with Latin infused style. This is something he has always listened to and wanted to do while in Soul Malady, but never had the chance to be able to create and perform it. Now moving forward with the new style and Gato as a front man, we added Familia to the end in a type of tribute to all the musicians that have been here before this band as they have contributed to what SM Familia is now.
How do you think your hometown has influenced the sound?
Our environment and home has EVERYTHING to do with our sound. It almost feels like if we weren't here, we wouldn't have this music we have right now. It's as if we have been gifted this style, sound and uniqueness from our ancestors that have lived here in this area of the world. If we weren't from a border town, we wouldn't have this beautiful, raw, ghetto sound.
Do you write together as a band or separately?
We have a specific process we do as we are sometimes 10 people deep in a studio. Gato starts with foundation music and basis. He then brings it to the core band which helps mold it. Then from there, we work in percussions, horns and all the rest of the glitter, and they add their pieces, touches, changes and arrangements. Finally, we get everyone together in a room and polish all sides of the song. It's a long process, but a beautiful journey in it. This way, everyone gets their feedback and input in an orderly and efficient process. It gets really hard to throw that many people in one room and start from scratch because there would be just so many good ideas to choose from it gets tough to hone one in.
Let’s talk about your new track Ayúdanos. What was the inspiration for this song?
Being from this border town of San Diego next to Mexico, we see a lot of the cons of international immigration workings. Gato is a first generation born here Mexican American (Chicano). He personally experienced what it was like for his parents and relatives to cross over here for a better life for their children. But what we see here is an abuse of politics and black-market dealings which in turn makes for horrible immigration policies and treatment of the system. We felt that right now is the best time to bring these issues to light as our city continues to expand privately owned detention centers for asylum seekers and there currently is a migrant caravan on its way to our border. All this is real and happening, but yet our borders are nowhere near prepared to handle this type of stuff correctly. The wrong people with the wrong amount of control make for authoritarian positions and the people that suffer are the immigrants!
Where do you think you are the happiest? In studio or on stage?
We honestly like both aspects. The shows are amazing! Our fans are amazing! The feeling we get sharing this music with people and feeling the actual vibe from them inside of us is one of the best feelings in the world! But the studio is what makes our inner child and inner musician excited because here we can create without the pressures of the outside world. Locking ourselves in a room and getting to a beautifully vulnerable state with each other is something we love. To be able to share ideas and record them with our crew is also something that keeps us smiling!
When do you plan on putting out more new music?
We are actually excited to announce that we are currently working towards finalizing the next single! One thing that we can guarantee you and all our fans out there is that we have set a plan that is now in motion to release a new song every quarter for you guys. We were blessed enough to have tracked at Sunset Sound Recordings in Hollywood and captured a lot of great ideas there which in turn has left us with a lot of work to do, but with foundations that we can guarantee releases every few months! We will be showcasing to you everything we got this year and we can't wait!