This has certainly been the year of Kurumpaw, from having a residency at the Artisan to igniting venue after venue with their electrifying surf-rock electronic music, the band as we now know it has become a tremendous tour de force in the Las Vegas music scene. VIM Music Editor Tiffany Salerno had the opportunity to interview four of the six members of the band (three which are new) in their first VIM magazine interview.
Interview and Photography by Tiffany Salerno
"I really don't come from a musical family, but my mom and dad were in this Folkloric dance group that my dad started back in Puebla, Mexico." - Miguel Flores of Kurumpaw
TIFFANY SALERNO: What are your musical backgrounds?
JACOB: I've played guitar for about nine years. I played upright bass when I was in middle school about ten years ago, but I began playing bass guitar more about three years ago. I also know a little bit about piano.
CINDY: Most of my dad's side of the family are musicians. My dad and his mom love to sing.
MIGUEL: I really don't come from a musical family, but my mom and dad were in this Folkloric dance group that my dad started back in Puebla, Mexico. He used to tour around with them, and he would often take us on the trips, having my cousins, brothers, and sisters participating in the dances as well. The very first time I encountered an instrument was a guitar in elementary school where these kids were learning Rondalla songs (a type of boleros) and I wanted to learn as well. Unfortunately, I never really owned a guitar until I was 21, but prior to that, my interest in music had already started again when I was about 17. My brother came into my house with this program called Virtual Dj where he was just messing around mixing electronic dance songs. I immediately got intrigued and learned with him. We Dj'd together for about three years until I decided I wanted to write my own music rather than playing with someone else. By then I already knew Cindy, who had a stolen guitar from High School. Haha. So she taught me a couple more chords, and we started the Koroks.
RICKY: I’ve been playing drums for almost ten years. Trying to form a band, I got to know a lot of musician friends. There was a band called Petra Ice, which I learned a lot from. I played drums with them for almost nine years, and I say it was like my music school.
TIFFANY SALERNO: What other projects/bands have you been in?
JACOB: Past projects of mine include playing guitar in a group called The Kodets, which was mainly an acoustic project. From there I moved on to play bass with Special-K (2014-17), which is currently on hiatus. I also played guitar in a surf-rock project called Periskope.
CINDY: It all started in 7th grade: beginners’ orchestra. I played violin. I was part of my high school's mariachi band for four years, and I also played violin and sang. Prior to Kurumpaw, I was in a rock band called The Koroks for about two years playing keyboard. I love to jam with other musicians. I played bass once with Unifield Tribe, We are Pancakes and Los Ataskados. It was a fun experience.
"I played bass once with Unifield Tribe, We are Pancakes and Los Ataskados. It was a fun experience." - Cindy Espinosa
MIGUEL: Prior to Kurumpaw, I started as a DJ with my brother. We were a DJ duo called Dirty Kidz which later became Modern Drums. Soon after that, a friend of mine Marco, Cindy and I started The Koroks which lasted for about two and a half years. After the Koroks broke up, I wanted to keep on playing music, so I recruited Randy Espinosa, who was our drummer for the Koroks and Eridanny (kuri) our guitarist (also for the Koroks), and we started the first version of Kurumpaw. While we were starting Kurumpaw, I joined other bands. I played drums with Gloom Bloom, a local east side band, and I also played Guitar for Doxil, a local rock en espanol band.
RICKY: I've been part of some local Spanish rock. Petra Ice is the latest one, and we recorded a couple of demos.
TIFFANY SALERNO: How long has Kurumpaw been a band?
CINDY: Kurumpaw used to be The Koroks. Kurumpaw has been together for about three years. I joined the second year.
MIGUEL: Almost three years with lineup changes.
RICKY: I have been part of Kurumpaw since 2015. I met them before that as the Koroks, and I always thought they were a great band.
TIFFANY SALERNO: How was the band name chosen?
CINDY: My sister Randy Espinosa came up with the name. She got it from Lobo the King of Currumpaw, a story written by Ernest Thompson Seton.
MIGUEL: When we got together to brainstorm names for the band, I remembered the story she told us about, and I suggested we take that idea and name the band, as well as write a whole EP around the Lobo King tale.
TIFFANY SALERNO: What does the word Kurumpaw mean to you?
JACOB: I'd say it means family.
CINDY: Passion. Friends, family. Inspiration. I want to inspire others to follow their dreams.
MIGUEL: To me it means work ethic. I also consider it my life project at this time. It means fun, it means friendship and companionship. It means music. It means making the best out of what we have so that other people can connect with us--one way or another, sending a good message.
RICKY: For me, it means that I found my "carnalistos" in music, and together we create sounds and lyrics which fill our souls.
"We're all funny. I might be the funniest looking though." -Jacob Lasky
TIFFANY SALERNO: Who is the funniest band member?
JACOB: We're all funny. I might be the funniest looking though.
CINDY: I feel we are all funny. I love my band mates, always a good laugh with them
MIGUEL: Hmm.. everyone is pretty funny actually! Haha!
TIFFANY SALERNO: Who is the most serious band member?
JACOB: I feel that we are all super serious about our music. For awhile, we'd meet up twice a week and practice on average from 8pm-11 pm
CINDY: Hmm... tough question. We all have our moments of seriousness.
RICKY: I think I can be one of the serious ones, but I have a good soul, I promise! Haha!
"I think I can be one of the serious ones, but I have a good soul, I promise! Haha!" - Ricky Hernandez
TIFFANY SALERNO: To be in the band Kurumpaw, you must be __________ (fill in the blank)
JACOB: Must have good vibes.
CINDY: You must have fun, be humble and committed.
MIGUEL: Five-foot-six! Haha!
TIFFANY SALERNO: How would you describe your sound?
JACOB: Psychedelic/Latin-infused indie. I think some bands/artists we take after our Santana, Tame Impala, Melody's Echo Chamber, and various other Latin rock (Miguel can probably suggest more).
MIGUEL: At the moment I feel like we are going through this Latin/psychedelic/rock/tribal phase.
CINDY: Experimental psychedelic latin rock pop.
TIFFANY SALERNO: Describe your songwriting process.
JACOB: This might be better for Miguel/Cindy to describe since they had most of the songs written before I joined.
CINDY: Usually Miguel comes up with cool chord progressions and then I follow with Keys. The rest of the members get to be creative with their own input. Lyrics are always last. Haha. Working on being a better writer
MIGUEL: Most of the songs are written by Cindy and I. I either come out with an idea or a chord progression, bring it to Cindy, and we both arrange it together. Once we have a concrete idea of the song, we bring it to the band so they can write their parts on it. It could also be the other way around. There have been times where Cindy brings in a melody for either a bass line or keys, and we all work around that. I believe we've come up with songs out of jams too, so there is that as well. At this moment we are being open for more ideas actually, and I’m trying to write stuff with Jacob and Kuri since Cindy is gone working. I believe she’s also working on stuff by herself.
TIFFANY SALERNO: What are you currently working on? Recording, more shows, etc…
CINDY: We are currently working on our first official album ever. We are recording with Naked City Records. We have a name for our album already, but it's a surprise.
"We are currently working on our first official album ever. We are recording with Naked City Records. We have a name for our album already, but it's a surprise."- Cindy Espinosa
JACOB: I will be working on recording my bass parts for the album.
MIGUEL: At the moment all our focus is on finishing our first LP. From there we want to promote it out here and then take it out for a spin on the west coast with a little tour.
TIFFANY SALERNO: What do you do when you're not playing music? School, day jobs, etc…
MIGUEL: I'm actually just working at the moment. I have a day job, but once that’s done, I usually come to my house and just grab my guitar and practice. I go for bike rides, I skate. I also like to do research on new and old music, and I like watching documentaries.
CINDY: I practice to be a better musician, I jam on the guitar, I love hiking. Other than that, I’m a house cat. I like spending time with my sisters and my ferret. I also like to make jewelry and paint or experiment with vegan recipes. I used to work at a pediatrician's office, but I quit that job and had a mini vacay of 7 months. I currently work in the cannabis field in California.
JACOB: I'm currently studying journalism at UNLV. Besides school, I also work for the school newspaper as their audience engagement manager and occasionally write freelance for them. When I'm not busy with school or work, I'll usually spend my time with friends or playing guitar.
RICKY: I have to work! And I enjoy mountain biking and spending time with my family.
TIFFANY SALERNO: Tell me what it's like to be working, going to school, not have a lot of money, etc while trying to maintain a band, do shows, record, etc…
JACOB: It's a real fine balance working and going to school. Money isn't too huge of an issue for me, but time management can be difficult sometime. If anything, being in this band has helped me organize and plan out my life better.
MIGUEL: Sometimes itis hard because in order to get the band going, there have been times where we have to pay out of our own pocket for merch or studio sessions. Now, we are at a point where we usually get paid for our performances and events. Though it’s not much, it helps out alot.
CINDY: It’s challenging to be working, going to school and trying to maintain a band. It’s overwhelming when you are head of a household and pay a mortgage. That's why I couldn't keep up with the Koroks and ended up leaving. I dropped out of college to focus on music. One project at a time. I do plan on going back to college once I save up money and pay off my debts. Being an adult can suck sometimes. Sometimes there are sacrifices you have to make in order to move forward. That’s why I moved to California, left my family, my ferret, the band, in order to save up money and become a better version of myself. I want to come back stronger and with money to buy a new PA, speakers, etc.
TIFFANY SALERNO: Would you describe yourselves as starving artists?
JACOB: Not so much for me.
MIGUEL: No! Haha!
CINDY: We all have our struggles, but I consider us STRIVING artists.
TIFFANY SALERNO: What other local Las Vegas musicians do you respect/admire?
JACOB: There's a lot amazing talent here. For the few years I've been involved in the music scene, I'd say some of my favorite bands include Indigo Kidd, Dark Black, No Tides, and Homebodys. Before I joined this band, I already knew of Kurumpaw pretty well and considered them one of the best bands in the scene. I thought they were really innovative and inspiring when I first heard them, so it's really an honor to be a part of this family now.
"Before I joined this band, I already knew of Kurumpaw pretty well and considered them one of the best bands in the scene."- Jacob Lasky
CINDY: I respect and admire all bands/solo artists/musicians… shouts to Drinking Water! I love the message they give out. Their music rocks. Shouts to Los Ataskados, they are very motivational. We are Pancakes puts a lot of effort into their work. Shouts to Child Support and The Red Seduction for their charismatic, young soul energy. I can see how much each band has grown. Shouts to The Acid Sisters! To every single band that joined our May residency: thank you!
MIGUEL: I respect every single band out here trying to put out their own original music.
RICKY: I respect all local musicians, and I admire all the bands who create their own music. By creating, you give new sounds to our local people.
TIFFANY: What does the future look like for Kurumpaw?
JACOB: I believe there's a lot of potential for this band. I think the main thing for now is that we want to finish the album, then work on promoting it from there by touring.
CINDY: I see Kurumpaw traveling to other countries, playing in big festivals, with thousands of people jumping up and down to our music. I see Kurumpaw going a long way. I imagine getting old with Kurumpaw. Hopefully we stick together for better or worse. I would love for Kurumpaw to set a good example for the youth, singing songs of love and truth to the world!
"I would love for Kurumpaw to set a good example for the youth, singing songs of love and truth to the world!"- Cindy Espinoza
MIGUEL: The future is always uncertain, but we will push for this project as far and as much as we can. I have always said I never expect anything from anyone or anything out there, but I honestly feel like this band can get bigger and be someone’s favorite in the near future. Not necessarily just in Las Vegas, but in the whole country, and why not in other countries as well?
RICKY: I am crossing my fingers for Kurumpaw to pay my bills! Haha! And let me live a life doing what I love to do.