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With Y LA BAMBA, Luzelena Mendoza draws from both her strict Catholic upbringing as an only daughter of a Mexican immigrant and a debilitating illness that led her to fall away from her faith, to create what LA Weekly calls “Devendra Banhart-influenced art-folk with hazy femme vocals and traditional Mexican sounds.”
In 2003, Mendoza traveled to New Zealand and India, in a quest for a deeper understanding of her spiritual growth as an active Christian, hungry for the tools to create a shift on this planet. During her trip to India, she contracted amoebic dysentery and giardia, causing her to suffer from insomnia, lose 60 pounds and fear her loss of sanity. “It shook me in ways I was not expecting, leading me to struggle with my prayer life and search for a healthy relationship with God, the universe, and with myself,” says Mendoza of her condition which was only complicated with a misdiagnosis. “I gave up on Christianity and what religion was starting to mean to me due to a natural awareness that was knocking on my door.” Upon her return to the US, she took in a white six-toed cat to keep her company as she fought to regain her physical, emotional and spiritual health. She christened her new feline companion La Bamba, a name that she incorporated into a moniker for her home recordings and performances at open mic nights in her new home, Portland.
With a raw songbook of home recordings under her belt and a new group of musicians to help Mendoza with her musical vision, Y LA BAMBA began to captivate audiences in Portland and tour stops around the US. Eventually, the quintet would attract the attention of The Decemberists guitarist, Chris Funk, who offered his production skills for the band’s first studio recording. Funk worked tirelessly to capture Y LA BAMBA’s rustic tones, songs inspired by the traditional tunes of Mendoza’s childhood, and her signature vocals that resemble the sounds spilling out of a 1930’s Victrola. Dubbing the confidently stunning body of songs Lupon (after a nickname that Mendoza’s father despised), Y LA BAMBA has emerged from the studio, ready to wow listeners everywhere.
Lupon will be available September 28, 2010 on Tender Loving Empire. [ioda]