About two years ago, I was talking to Noé Rodríguez. He’s my friend from Mexico City. He loves what’s current, especially in the Underground D.F. music scene. I asked him, “Noé, is there anything new happening in Mariachi?” He fell out of his chair laughing! He looked at me in the eyes and said, “Omar, para la juventud en México, el Mariachi está MUERTO!”
I was shocked. I had grown up loving Mariachi. When my grandfather Adolfo was alive he would hire Mariachis to play at our parties. When I was 12, I started singing Mariachi professionally. My mom would drive me from party to party dressed in a little charro. I’d sing to karaoke tracks and got ALL the tías to give me tips!
When I was older, I went other places musically, but Mariachi had been my first education. It formed who I was and how I thought about music. When I heard Noé say, “For the youth in Mexico, Mariachi is DEAD,” it was like he punched my 12-year-old self. It awakened something inside of me: an anger but also a yearning.
I was mad because I understood what Noé meant. Mariachi had become… old. The same songs, nothing new, no risks, no revolution. All the best artists were dead or retiring. Everywhere there were copycats “keeping the tradition alive”. I hate to admit it but Noé was right.
In that moment, I found my voice and my purpose.
I have to show “la juventud” that Mariachi can be modern and new. I can’t think of a better way then to first release my version of “Sabor A Mi.” This classic song might be the most overplayed and bland Latin song that exists. There are 4 gorgeous recordings and 4,000,000 terrible copies. Well, actually, now there are 5 gorgeous recordings. I turned “Sabor A Mi” into a breakup song. It sounds Mexican-American. I wanted it to be innovative, brave, and beautiful.
It’s thrilling to bring untested ideas to the world!