ESSO’S ARMANDO PEREZ SHOWS VULNERABILITY ON DEBUT SOLO ALBUM oobs Rx
Chicago-born songwriter and producer, Armando Perez, announces the release of a new album on streaming platforms going live on June 1st, just in time for the Summer season. The self produced album oobs Rx combines elements of progressive rock, post punk, and indie folk among other influences.
Best known for his work in Chicago’s fusion big band, ESSO Afrojam Funkbeat, Perez took to the studio alone this past winter to see what more was possible. The result is a twelve song collection of stark, heart-on-sleeve material that evokes alternative rock and new wave era roots.
The new songs are a departure in content and sound, contrasting his last ten years of leading his band, ESSO, across the states and into Mexico on several tours from 2015 to 2019. Independently releasing three studio albums and two mixtapes on Sonic Octopus Records.
Perez and ESSO created a repertoire of Afro Latin funk, Cumbiaton, and an array of Caribbean dance music, recorded and performed for audiences beyond the midwest festival circuit. As the band’s primary writer and producer, Perez often wrote in Spanish, with party rhythms in focus. For the oobs Rx project, he captured a different energy, writing new material mostly in English. “It’s completely different from anything I’ve done before. I didn’t have an audience in mind. I just wanted to write good songs.”
Expanding on the process, Perez says: “Working alone in the studio allowed me to keep my own pace and do my own thing. I wasn’t waiting on anyone. It was all about the music and what the songs called for. During, and after the pandemic, I tried to lean on email, or Zoom collaborations, but that had its challenges. There is a certain magic when you are in the same room with a collaborator. Our Midwest winters always challenge in-person collaboration too. I just wanted to let it all go. Let the ideas out and see what happens. No apologies.”
The new solo album, “oobs Rx,” reveals the cathartic and essential process which writing and recording can have on a creative person with limited outlets. “It began with leaving the expectations at the door, and just getting back to songwriting, music and lyrics. If I can sing the songs with just a guitar, I can play around with it and build the foundation and experiment… have fun with it. Trying new things and not compromising on the developing vision, whatever that might be or become,” says Perez about the new music.
The single, Give Me Life, demonstrates a unique depth for Perez on the new album, blending poetic lyrical ideas, lofi dance beats, and live production techniques. Having performed all the instrumentation (drums, guitars, bass, synths, keys), and singing all the parts on the record, Perez invited Aaron Leslie Feder as the sole guest to perform pedal steel over three songs (Someone, By Your Side, Ella Duerme). The rest of the album is a collage of guitar driven compositions that show a breadth of range that could be considered anything from Yacht rock to grungy shoegaze.
Armando Perez is a first generation, Mexican-American, singer-songwriter producer with over 20 albums to his credit. The multi-instrumental musician has produced independently for his own studio (Belmont Electric Studios), and collaborated with several artists including Serengeti, 2Mex, Planet Asia, and Izznyce. He is a label owner, live performer, DJ with Sound Events Chicago. He has toured the United States and Mexico with his band ESSO Afrojam Funkbeat, and won “Best New Band” and “Best International Act” in the Chicago Reader in 2016. He currently lives, performs, and produces in Chicago IL. He has shared the stage with Cafe Tacuba, Dan Deacon, Natalia Lafourcade, The Smoking Popes, Los Amigos Invisibles, and Ozomatli among others.