Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas return with TELEPHONE//TELEFONO, the followup to 2014’s debut SECRET EVIL.
TELEPHONE//TELEFONO marks the Detroit-based outfit’s first full-length bilingual recording, a double-LP pairing English and Spanish language versions. Songs like the “Run Too Far//Escapar” and “Oh No” see Hernandez & The Deltas fusing a smoldering Latin groove into their already one-of-a-kind sound clash of pop, psychedelic rock and punk cabaret, lead by Hernandez’s vocal power and the band’s boundless versatility.
Why a bilingual album? As a second generation Cuban and Mexican-American, Hernandez felt it her duty to further explore her Hispanic heritage on The Deltas’ sophomore recording. With that in mind, Hernandez visited Mexico City for a second round of recording, tracking all-new Spanish language vocals at Topetitud Estudio in Mexico City by Latin GRAMMY® Award-winner – and SECRET EVIL producer – Camilo “Milo” Froideval. Despite growing up more than 2,000 miles to the north, Hernandez formed a life-changing connection with Mexico City.
“There was something about Mexico City that just clicked with me,” Hernandez says. “If you could imagine all of the best parts of your favorite U.S. cities and wrapped them into one, that’s Mexico City for me. It has some of the beauty of L.A. and the grittiness of Brooklyn, there’s skyscrapers and palm trees and historic neighborhoods with cobblestone streets, cathedrals next to nightclubs and tiny mescal bars. There are certain pockets where there’s a real country Norteño feel and then turn the corner and think you were in New York or L.A.”
Hernandez knew songs written and recorded in English required more than simply translation – a full rethink was needed to truly give them equivalent poetry in her second language. Though admittedly only “seventy five percent fluent,” Hernandez spent two full weeks speaking almost exclusively in Spanish, singing for hours in a friend’s studio to create a kind of muscle memory. She further pushed herself to use Spanish in ways she had never previously attempted, rewriting the TELEPHONE songs with the invaluable aid of her mates in Mexico City.
“I thought it was important to figure out how to articulate the same way I would in English,” she says. “We sat down and talked about, ok, what am I trying to get across in this song, what am I trying to make someone feel or understand, and then basically rewriting. A couple translated better than others, a couple were almost totally rewritten. Their message is the same but expressed in a totally different way.”
“The languages are so different,” Hernandez says. “Saying one thing in English might sound completely ridiculous in Spanish. It’s a lot harder to be sensitive and romantic in Spanish without being kind of cheesy. There’s this fine line you have to walk in the Spanish language, where in English there’s no problem singing a punk song about a girl that broke your heart.”
As a result, TELEPHONE//TELEFONO proves to be a genuinely unprecedented work of duality and impossible-to-ignore relevance. Songs like “Hot To Trot,” “Break Your Heart” and “Apologies” see The Deltas’ brand of Motor City magic taken to the max while their Spanish counterparts unveil fresh meanings and emotive power.
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