Like Sly and the Family Stone, The Clash, Fishbone, and Public Enemy before them, Ozomatli follows in the footsteps of a long line of musicians who aim to effect change through their music and lead by example. Today, you’ll hear from two founding members of the Grammy Award-winning group, Wil-Dog Abers and Raul Pacheco, about how they have used the universal language of music as a platform to better themselves and the world around them.

Set to infectious rhythms and catchy melodies, Ozo’s sound is a blend of the many cultures found in the city of Los Angeles, but the band has found commonalities across the world, thanks to their many years of touring. Whether supporting Carlos Santana on his Supernatural Tour, working with reggae dons, Sly and Robbie, contributing music to films like Happy Feet 2 and Elmo’s Musical Monsterpiece, or creating their own kids’ album, Ozomatli keeps striving to improve, both as a group and as individuals.

In today’s conversation, Will and Raul share key lessons from their time in the music business, from the importance of leveraging your label as an opportunity to be more creative to viewing your manager as a business partner, and we get first-hand insight into some of their career highlights. You’ll also discover how they have used the pandemic as a chance to continue learning and growing as musicians, plus so much more! Make sure to tune in today.

Key Points From This Episode:

  • What role music played as Will and Raul were growing up and who they looked up to.
  • How Will was introduced to music via the trombone in the LAUSD Magnet program.
  • The influence that Raul’s elementary school music teacher had on him.
  • Insight into Raul’s history with the tres, a three-course chordophone of Cuban origin.
  • Bassists like Larry Graham and Robbie Shakespeare who shaped the way Will plays.
  • Key lessons about the ‘business of music’ that Will and Raul learned from recording for a number of different labels.
  • The value of viewing your manager, your lawyer, and your label as business partners.
  • How Ozomatli has used the universal language of music as a platform to affect change.
  • Eye-opening moments from their government-sponsored international tour as cultural ambassadors for the US State Department in 2006.
  • Raul and Will share some of the most challenging parts of being on the road.
  • Hear how they both used the pandemic as an opportunity to educate themselves further.
  • How they approached writing music for kids’ films and creating their own kids’ album.
  • What they learned from opening for Carlos Santana on his Supernatural Tour.
  • Ozomatli’s new LP, Marching On, and their commitment to becoming better singers.

Ozomatli Tweetables:

Raul Bully Pacheco Ozomatli
“We [just] want to play music, and being on a label is a vehicle to have an opportunity to create some new music that someone will do the administrative work for and get it out there and promote it. In the process, [we] try to be as creative as possible.” — @MrRaulPacheco [0:17:34]
“Every movement has artists and music attached to it. James Brown didn’t say it’s a universal language for nothing.” — Wil-Dog Abers [0:23:05]
“This semester, I’m taking jazz piano and it’s been opening me up more [to understanding how] different notes create different feelings, which I never understood before.” — Wil-Dog Abers [0:37:21]
“[Making music for kids’ films] gave us more freedom to be characters, to play different roles, to not worry about what Ozomatli fans think about it. That process was actually really helpful for us as writers and how we make music.” — @MrRaulPacheco [0:45:31]
“As a group, we’re [always] working hard at being better singers.” — @MrRaulPacheco [0:53:01]
Wild dog ozomatli