Ariel + The Culture talks unique blend of influences, reconnecting with Spanish language, culture through music

Sofia Treviño, Life & Arts Reporter

Jason “Ariel” Bobadilla, professionally known as Ariel + The Culture, creates fresh sounds with a mix of hip-hop, indie and Latinx beats. Performing at South by Southwest for the first time, the Dallas-based artist performed songs ranging from his NOSTALGIA album to his viral TikTok hit “dame tu amor.”

The Daily Texan spoke with Ariel + The Culture before his March 16 performance about pulling from his first-generation Latino identity to create music “even your abuelita would like.”

 

The Daily Texan: How do your Spanish songs help you reconnect with your culture, since you grew up not speaking a lot of the language?

Ariel + The Culture: My parents sent me to a really white school. I had nothing but non-Latinx teachers (who) wanted me to speak English. For years, I didn’t speak Spanish except at home, and I started losing touch with it. I spoke with an accent. I got güero comments, so writing music this way has been really therapeutic. It’s cool to see other first-(generation) kids connecting with that. (My music is for) those that are too brown for the white kids and too white for the brown kids. I’m making something out of my funny Spanish accent. 

 

DT: What was your journey like as a musician?

ATC: As a kid, I wanted to be a dancer (and do) theater. I liked the attention and passion of being on stage. It’s so powerful. When I was 13, I started learning how to play piano and guitar from stuff I got at a garage sale. I told my friends in high school, “I’m going to put on a show at this coffeehouse.” I brought a whole bunch of friends together (for) a whole band. The coffeehouse kicked me out because it was way too loud, but there were like 100 people there to see me. I was like, “Oh, this could be a thing.” I stopped when I got to college. Then, my friend was like, “Yo, we need a band for this event.” I pulled together random people from a university group chat, and that was the first version of Ariel + The Culture. When the pandemic hit, I realized I didn’t want other people putting their creative decisions in –– I wanted to do my own thing. I wrote “dame tu amor” in April 2020 and released it in August. I didn’t think anything of it, but it’s blowing up right now. It’s crazy.

 

DT: How did you arrive at your unique music style?

ATC: My parents are immigrants from Mexico City. My mom came before she went to high school, so she grew up in the ‘90s with Selena, a lot of rap and hip-hop. My dad didn’t come to the States until he was older. He brought a lot more música tropicales, canciones románticas, like cumbias, salsas. It just meshed, and then, there was a big wave of indie music. Putting those three together, is what (my sound) is. It’s really cool to step back and hear hip-hop, Latinx and indie influences.

 

DT: What are you hoping to take away from playing at SXSW?

ATC: I’ve been trying to play at SXSW for three, four years — back when I wasn’t ready to play. In the past year or two, I figured out what my sound was. I’m excited for new people to see. I take a lot of pride in my shows. I don’t just stand around. The band has insane energy. I’m jumping all over the stage, and the music’s pumping. It’s gonna be a slap in the face to people who have never heard it. I hope people are here for the beginning because this is just the start of my career. This is gonna be real big soon.