Vagabon, Angelica Garcia, Indigo Innuendo
"Break the rules you think you are bound by."
That's the recurring sentiment Lætitia Tamko carried with her through the writing and recording of her second album under the Vagabon moniker. Her first, 2017's Infinite Worlds, was an indie breakthrough that put her on the map, prompting Tamko to tour around the world and quit her job in electrical/computer engineering to pursue a career in music full-time. Tamko's self-titled Nonesuch Records debut finds her in a state of creative expansion, leaning fully into some of the experimental instincts she flirted with on the previous album. This time around, she's throwing genre to the wind. Vagabon is a vibrant culmination of influences, emotional landscapes, and moods; a colorful and masterful statement by an artist and producer stepping into her own.
"I was in a pretty tortured headspace when I returned home from touring Infinite Worlds. That album contained some of the first songs I'd ever written, and more people than I could have ever imagined heard it," Tamko says. "I was proud to become a full-time musician and recognized how rare of a thing that is, but was also debilitated by the very same fact. Fear overtook me and I couldn't write. I felt stagnant and unsure of what to do next."
Cha Cha Palace
With Mexican and Salvadoran roots in the San Gabriel Valley, east of Los Angeles, Angelica Garcia has spent the last few years creating a new, second family for herself within the welcoming community of Richmond, VA. This multicultural dichotomy shapes her new album Cha Cha Palace—her Spacebomb Records debut and follow up to 2016’s Medicine for Birds. The album finds Garcia confidently assembling a “mental scrapbook” of her journey for listeners, and for herself, all the while confronting a lifetime of feeling split between two identities. “I grew up feeling embarrassed of my culture because it often made me feel like I stuck out in school. My dad would pick me up sometimes blasting Mexican banda music. My own lunch would embarrass me,” she explains. “When I got older I realized that these things are all a part of my identity and I should be proud of them. The things that felt like they were holding me back from being ‘a normal American kid’ are actually my power.”
The message of first single “Jícama” spans generations and is one that resonates deeply for Garcia, who sings/shouts: “I see you, but you don’t see me Jímaca, Jímaca, Guava Tree…I’ve been trying to tell ya, but you just don’t see, like you I was born in this country.” Garcia speaks the reality for millions of Americans unapologetically and with passion. She recalls the first time she performed it live in Los Angeles, “I remember looking out into the crowd—and in front of me were all these young Latinx kids, singing back, every word, even though it was a song I had never played live, or released—and I had the epiphany: ‘This is exactly who I wrote this song for, anyone who feels like they are in-between two identities and their heart is in two places.’”