Music

Helado Negro teaches us how to smile

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Helado Negro
Helado Negro
Credit: Anna Groth-Shive

Roberto Carlos Lange stops by Studio 360 to tell us about his new album, “This Is How You Smile,” his sixth recorded under the name Helado Negro.

The music weaves together ambient electronics, lush instrumentation, and Latin American rhythms, while riffing on Lange’s memories of growing up as the child of Ecuadorian immigrants.

The album gets its title from a short story by Jamaica Kincaid: “Girl” is structured as a list of instructions from a mother to daughter on how to navigate the world. “It resonated with me,” Lange says, “It felt like my mother – people of color, immigrants, different generations – explaining, ‘You're in this place where you're not the person in power,’ or maybe in a society that doesn’t necessarily understand where you're coming from.”

“This Is How You Smile” is intimate and personal, but also politically charged. “The best way I've found to engage with folks, to talk to anyone or convey a message, is through this intimacy. Soft music has this stigma of being passive, like ‘Oh it's ambient, it's very gentle,’ but within that it can be very powerful.”

 

 

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