Adrian Quesada is musical royalty in Austin, Texas. A former leading member of the Grammy Award-winning Latin-funk orchestra, Grupo Fantasma, founding member of the ever-eclectic Brownout, and one-half of the worldwide phenomenon known as Black Pumas, Adrian is a multi-instrumentalist, producer, and songwriter renowned for his unique blend of Latin traditional music, soul, and psychedelic rock. But his is no overnight success; Adrian has been on his grind for nearly two decades now, consistently working to refine his sound and build genuine connections in the industry.
Born in South Texas on a steady diet of hip hop, soul music, and Mexican culture, Adrian has collaborated with everyone from Prince to Wu-Tang Clan’s GZA, David Garza, and Los Lobos. Today, he owns and operates his own recording studio, Electric Deluxe, where he strives to push the envelope of modern music by delivering a timeless aesthetic and maximum freshness. His latest album, Boleros Psicodélicos, a sprawling tribute to the golden era of Latin American psychedelic ballads that he produced, engineered, mixed, and largely performed himself, is a testament to the relationships that Adrian has cultivated over the past 20 years and his relentless dedication to his craft.
Above all else, Adrian deeply loves what he does and he shares that passion generously in today’s episode. Listen in as he reflects on his journey as a musician thus far and offers his wisdom on the importance of collaboration, the joys and pitfalls of songwriting, and how, if you show love and appreciation, people will respond, plus so much more! We invite you to sit back, relax, and enjoy this conversation with Texas’ own, Adrian Quesada.
Key Points From The Adrian Quesada Episode:
- Adrian’s memories of growing up in South Texas and some of his early musical influences.
- Why Adrian has been challenging himself to write on instruments other than the guitar.
- How his interest in production evolved; looking back on the first album he produced.
- The hip hop artists he looked to for inspiration on the Grupo Fantasma records.
- Reflecting on the important role that collaboration has played for Adrian.
- Melding different styles together under the Brown Sabbath moniker and on their Public Enemy instrumental cover album, Fear of a Brown Planet.
- The major significance of co-signs from artists like Prince for Grupo Fantasma and Brownout.
- Adrian shares an incredible memory about Prince from their time working together.
- The role that winning a Grammy Award played in propelling Grupo Fantasma forward.
- The melting pot influence of Los Angeles on Black Pumas’ unique mashup style.
- Adrian tells the story of the first time he heard Eric Burton sing over the phone.
- How the best lyrics can evolve from your first instincts when listening to a track.
- How Adrian and Eric’s process of writing songs together has evolved over the years.
- Some of the joys and challenges of having his own recording studio, Electric Deluxe.
- Gain insight into Adrian’s 2021 album, Look at My Soul: The Latin Shade of Texas Soul.
- How people will respond if you show love and appreciation.
- Adrian’s latest record and labor of love, Boleros Psicodélicos, which he produced, engineered, mixed and largely performed himself.
- How Adrian is constantly discovering new music and opening new doors.
Tweetables From Adrian Quesada:
“Hip hop has, by far and large, been the biggest musical influence aesthetically to everything I do. [There’s] no way to shake that. If I’m hearing drums, I’m hearing the way Pete Rock drums sounded, the way Tribe Called Quest drums sounded, not the way Metallica drums sounded.” — @adrianmquesada [0:14:17]
“I learn something from everybody I work with. I still learn a lot from [Martin Perna] and I feel like [collaboration] is really important, particularly for somebody like me, who works alone a lot.” — @adrianmquesada [0:18:11]
“[Prince] believed in us and that gave me a lot of confidence as a guitar player, that gave everybody [in Grupo Fantasma] a ton of confidence as a band. That was a big turning point for all of our musical developments and careers.” — @adrianmquesada [0:29:04]
“That first instinct that you have of what you lay down, sometimes, is going to be the best thing [that you write].” — @adrianmquesada [0:43:00]
“Every time I spoke to somebody, it would open a new door.” — @adrianmquesada [0:53:36]