Photo: Rick Kern/WireImage
Las Robertas On Representing Costa Rica At Coachella, Their Love Of Tame Impala & More
The group, consisting of Mercedes Oller, Sonya Carmona and Fabrizio Durán, aren't strangers to making waves globally--they were also the first Costa Rican act to play Mexico's Nrmal Festival and Barcelona's Primaver Sound back in 2011--and they're not going to stop anytime soon. Their latest release, dropped earlier this month, is an EP titled Outrageously Together and, as they explain, is politically charged yet remains positive and hopeful. After Coachella, the group will return home to Costa Rica to record their as-yet-untitled fourth album. We tracked down Oller and Durán after their set to hear more about their international travels, creative inspiration and new music
Congrats on making your Coachella debut, and becoming the first group from Costa Rica to ever play at the festival. How does it feel?
Oller: It feels like, amazing. Wow! We're so, so grateful but it also feels like a huge responsibility, because we're the first band [to do it], and also it's like being an ambassador for our country. It's a huge responsibility but at the same time, we feel super happy and blessed.
Durán: Yeah, grateful, and we know that eyes are on us right now, and at the same time [it] involves our country, so maybe people would be more interested in things that that happened there.
Have you had a chance to check out any other acts here at Coachella, or is there anyone that you're particularly excited to see?
Oller: Yesterday I really love Khruangbin so I went to their show, and then I checked out Calypso Rose, and I love her. She was so amazing. And today for me it's White Fence & Ty Segall, I just saw them. And then Tame Impala, I really like them. Tomorrow UMO, Unknown Mortal Orchestra. They're amazing. I've seen them. They're amazing amazing amazing.
Durán: I really like Charlotte Gainsbourg yesterday. It was really good. Also, I really want to see Shame, that is playing right now, but I'm gonna see them in a week. Their album was one of the albums I listened the most last year. I want to see Apex Twin today.
— La Nación (@nacion) April 12, 2019
Who are some of your biggest musical influences?
Oller: For me, I don't know I have a lot of influences, but I've always loved the Velvet Underground. I love '60s bands, like garage '60s bands. I love also Latino garage from the '60's and new psychedelic and Greek pop. So it's a lot of Brian Jonestown Massacre, the Velvet Underground, and old school garage bands. Lush, stuff like that, I love it.
Durán: Yeah, it's like the history of rock and roll. There's always certain things that are in line, and I think it's from '60s until like ...
Oller: The '90s
Durán: Yeah or even the 2000's. There is a lot of sounds that we kind of are influenced, but not necessarily we are [limited] strictly to one of them.
Are there any artists that you have your eye on to work with or tour with in the near future?
Oller: Yeah, we were talking about it actually. It would be amazing to go on tour with or open for a really big band like the Black Angels or something like that. We think that when it comes to sound, it goes pretty well together and we really admire them.
What else is going on in music right now in Costa Rica? Is your scene present in Costa Rica or what's kind of the pulse?
Durán: It's strange because it's not usually a scene defined by sound. It's more like independent bands that are different genres or whatever. It's a very small country. So, it's like this is the truest band right now, this is the garage band, this is ... yeah and we all play together. So it's a lot of mixture. Lots of different people come to the shows. It's not strictly one [style].
What does being a Latin American musician mean to you? How do you feel that the sort of intersections of who you are as individuals play into your sound and you identity as a group together?
Durán: Yeah, I've been thinking about it and I think it's like the perfect example of being multicultural, especially when you are on the outskirts of society. Being Latino, you get a lot of influences from the U.S. or Europe and that shape you when you're a teenager and eventually, you end up liking a lot of things that are not necessarily from your country. At the same time, a lot of the rhythms that we use and a lot of the vibe is more Costa Rican. We're very chill. We're positive.
Oller: Yeah, sometimes people are like, "Oh you guys are like so chill." There's something different. I don't know people feel it. Probably it's a cultural thing, but a lot of people are like "pura vida" it's like what they say and it's like, "You guys are like the definition of "pura vida."
So you're perfect representatives to have at Coachella Then! What's sort of the biggest message that you want to share with your music, specifically with your most recent project Together Outrageously?
Oller: It's definitely political. Our country was going through this election process, two presidents, one extremely conservative and narrow minded, and the other on extremely liberal. One of the candidates wanted to shut down the women's institution of the government, a lot of things, and against LGBTQ community and essentials. In my case, as a person I was really, really, really disagreeing about it, and I was really scared about that period, it was really uncertain, and those songs were made around that time. It's like a little expressing that feeling that I was feeling when we were going through because it was an overall thing. Young people like us and a lot of people were really nervous because the other guy, the bad guy, was winning.
Durán: And I think the message is against adversity, you can [find] unity and sticking together with other people and going out of the places that certain things can make you feel. Instead of having a long face, try to get over it.
Oller: And to be smart, emotionally smart.
I love that. I see on your Instagram you're really into fashion. You have a fashion line, correct?
Oller: Yeah, I make beaded bags by myself. So, I design them and I make them, then I sell them through Instagram. I'm participating in different fairs, fashion week back home, and I started to ship internationally. So I have customers in Spain and France.
That's so cool. Is fashion kind of always been a side passion for you?
Oller: Oh yeah, definitely. I love clothes, and people always ask me to collaborate with pictures and model for them. Yeah, I love it. I think since I was a kid my favorite thing was to play dress up.
What about you [To Durán]? What do you do when you're not making music?
Durán: I paint. I'm an artist. I'm currently finishing my art history degree. So, there's a lot of creativity beyond music in our band. Since the beginning, Mercedes and me, we used to, and we still make most of the artwork of the band t-shirts, the cover of the records.
Oller: Yeah, I feel pretty happy that I'm doing the things that I like, like fashion. We're doing a lot of things, designers and stuff. And also the music, it's something that blends, and they go together as well.