Music Interview: Cayos

Mar 18, 2013

Local Band Cayos is an experimental ambient-electronica group. Under the Sun on WLRN had the chance to speak with band members Daniel Laburu and Nick Reyes about what inspires their music.

Both are Miami natives who moved away. Laburu is an architect living in New York.  Reyes is a soldier stationed at Fort Riley in Kansas.

The song you hear during this interview is “Top of Zurich” which also played in the Under the Sun story, “Childhood Memories and Hialeah Landmarks”.

Under the Sun: Nick, could you describe the role music played in your life, during your time in Iraq?

Nick: Music played a HUGE part in my deployment. That is the one thing aside from being deployed with a company of great soldiers that helped me cope with my feelings of displacement. Music gave me the motivation to work out, see the brighter side in my situation and have goals for returning home. I listened to it on bus rides and while I worked, when I went to the gym and in my room. Music was 85% of my day. I was listening to a lot of weird stuff like Old Dirty Bastard, CSS, The Knife, Dark Throne, and Slayer, just to name a few.

Daniel: It’s like those small ripples of current you see on the surface of Biscayne Bay, they’re subtle, but engaging to stare at–and as you follow them move and you lose yourself in them.

Are all the tracks based on field recordings, or do each of you play instruments whose sounds get incorporated into the songs?

Daniel: I would say it’s a very healthy combination of the two. On our first release ‘Souk,’ we were more heavy on using solely digital instruments and elements with the field recordings, and ‘Shell Beach’ really opened up a new sound for us as it was heavily based on live recorded guitar manipulated to the point where it was unrecognizable. I became very fascinated with that the last few years. I really wanted to see what kind of sonic extremes I could pull off with a guitar. Nick can probably elaborate on the field recordings.

All the tracks off of Souk are based on field recordings I made in Iraq in 2009 through 2010. Most sounds are helicopters, Humvees, weapons ranges, generators, and random conversations at the souk (Arabic market). Some of the material on “Shell Beach” takes a different approach and focuses more on melody and actual instruments; and our new album “Snowdens” is a collaboration with Takeshi Muto of Phoenecia.

Both of you are Miami natives. Do you feel Miami adds a unique quality to your music?

Nick: Absolutely. The new album, “Snowdens” is not only a song named after “In Droves,”  which is an experimental Miami band, but an actual location off Old Cutler Road. I try to get the Saturday-morning-Cuban-coffee-shop-in-Little Havana vibe in the music.

Daniel: We definitely both have a deep affection for the city. Sometimes we use city locations in song titles. For example, Salvadore Park is a small park in Coral Gables I used to play in for many years as a child. These sort of memories are inspirations to me.  And the name “Cayos” is a reference to the Florida Keys.

What makes your band more unique than other Miami bands?

Daniel: I wouldn’t say MORE unique because there’s so many great things happening in Miami musically. But I’d say what gives us our unique sound is that the music is more reflective and not so involved in its consciousness–it’s very subtle and evolving. This drift allows the listener’s mind to wander and really reflect internally in a more sub-conscious way.

How would you describe your music?

Nick: An experimental editing of fond memories, states of inebriation, nostalgic bits of lost time and everything in between.

Who would you say your musical influences are?

Nick & Daniel: Burzum, Ulver, Ween, Zoviet France, Rapoon, Origami Galaktika, Arm, The Grails, Sonic Youth, Black Metal, Drone, experimental.

Daniel, could you explain the role of architecture in music?

Architecture and music as art forms are very similar in their process and more closely linked than people may think–there’s an evolution in the design process similar to an evolution in the musical process. This process can go on forever for any particular design or musical composition.

The beauty really lies in the discovery of new possibilities.  Most architecture and music are both comprised of organizing principles–for example windows form rhythms as drums form rhythms,  materials can be compared to sonic textures, the beginning of a song is as an entry to a building, and both the song and the journey though a building are time-based experiences. It’s amazing how similar they are, yet they appeal to two totally different senses.

Are there any upcoming live performances?

We’re always aiming to do something when our schedules coincide, but life makes it difficult, especially living in different cities. Hopefully some time this year we’ll perform, most likely in Miami.

What’s next for Cayos?

We just finished a collaboration with Takeshi Muto, due out very soon on Schematic and Bedroom Research [music labels]. We also have more ideas currently in the works–such as working with video artists and vocalists. We want to shift the focus for every project to keep things fresh, challenging and new for us.