On his latest album Private Energy, Roberto Lange, better known to some as Helado Negro, weaves dream-like narratives on identity and race with electronic threads and poly-colored textures. He croons heavy in both Spanish and English, championing his Ecuadorian heritage while maintaining a masterful proficiency in stateside songwriting disciplines, peppered with cumbia notes and intoxicating melodics.
The album’s lead-off single, “It’s My Brown Skin,” plays like Dilla’s most Harry Nilsson-esque thought; a bubbling rhodes groove with Lange’s lolling lilts and a frolic-full drum program underscoring it all. Something familiar and distant all at once. Today we have the pleasure of bringing you an equally surreal visual accompaniment for the album standout, directed by Martin Allais, shot in Bushwick’s warm embrace. Here Lange’s groove is accompanied by city-slicking strolls, luminous animations and a deceptively profound connection to his surroundings, both physical and spiritual.
Watch the new video for Helado Negro’s “It’s My Brown Skin” below. To get acquainted with one of the year’s best offerings, pick up your copy of Private Energy on iTunes today and refer to the touring schedule below to catch Lange live and direct on the final leg of his tour. Scroll on to peep a brief Q&A with the man behind it all.
November 1, 2016 – Wonder Bar – Allston, MA (With Buscabulla)
November 2, 2016 – Bowery Ballroom – New York, NY (With Buscabulla)
November 3, 2016 – Johnny Brenda’s – Philadelphia, PA (With Buscabulla)
November 4, 2016 – Ottobar – Baltimore, MD (With Buscabulla)
November 5, 2016 – Duke Coffeehouse – Durham, NC
November 6, 2016 – Masquerade (Purgatory Stage) – Atlanta, GA
November 7, 2016 – Strange Matter – Richmond, VA
OKP: How did the Helado Negro moniker come to be?
Helado Negro: I released the first album AWE OWE in 2009 with Asthmatic Kitty Records. I had been releasing music since 2004 via various labels. Most of that music was beat-based music that I would make with samplers, synthesizers and my computer. When I moved to Brooklyn in 2006, I began to use my voice more with my recordings and developed ideas to sing in Spanish.
OKP: Now at the conclusion of a lengthy touring run, do you have any particularly interesting tales from the road?
HN: The best thing about this tour has been all the different types of people at my show. I couldn’t put my finger on who’s there, it’s beautiful people of different colors and all walks of life.
OKP: Were you immediately drawn towards synthesizers and electronics?
HN: Yes and no. The synthesizer lends itself to be completely malleable from the get go, but other traditional instruments have that capability if you give yourself the opportunity to explore.
OKP: Does your songwriting begin at the keyboard? A notepad? A dream?
HN: It’s case by case, it can be a sound that transform into a rhythm into a progression that ends up being the foundation.
OKP: Any suggested reading for us earthlings?
HN: Yes, Jace Clayton’s new book (DJ Rupture) – Uproot: Travels in 21st-Century Music and Digital Culture
OKP: What’s the next frontier for Helado Negro? For Roberto Lange?
HN: Taking my time getting to the next something.