The country offers him a wealth of opportunities to develop as a musician and yet the system is preventing him from staying here.
It was a rainy Sunday in Maidenhead (a town half-way between Henley-on-Thames and London) when we had lunch with Adrián and chatted to him about his trajectory and life in England. His time in the country has felt a little like walking a tightrope, as he still doesn’t know whether he will stay in the UK or return to his country of origin.
Having already been detained three times and spent three weeks in a detention centre, he is hoping this uncertainty will be resolved in the next few weeks. Paradoxically, he is facing deportation in a country that he has wanted to visit since his childhood, despite the fact that he is married to a Spanish national.
Adrián grew up with a father and a brother who loved music. At 13 years old he was giving drum lessons and at 16 he started writing his own rock songs.
As his musical taste evolved, he switched to a more romantic style influenced by artists such as Luis Miguel, one of his favourite musicians, and he taught himself the guitar so that he could play along to his compositions.
When he was 21, he realised that his civil engineering studies were not making him happy, so his mother encouraged him to travel to England to study music, on the understanding that his family would support him financially for the first year.
He arrived in London as a student on a two-year visa and took singing classes for a year – enough time for him to realise how unskilled he was – and, simultaneously, to gain the skills he needed to learn and improve as a singer and musician.
In his second year, he studied production and worked as a mariachi. It was his first job as a professional musician. Meanwhile, he supported himself by working as a waiter in a bar.
Strangely, he took his first steps into the world of production out of sheer necessity. As a singer and composer, he saw just how expensive production could be. Today, he says, “I don’t need anyone. I have my own resources. But that doesn’t mean that I’ve shut the door on working with other producers.”
Similarly, Adrián says that the creative process – turning a guitar and vocal demo into a song with instruments and musical arrangements – is very close to his heart.
Whereas many people believe that the first step to becoming a singer is having a good voice, Adrián sees things differently. If you aren’t born with a good voice, he thinks that you can learn. This is above all because, as he says, it was his passion to be a singer, rather than innate talent, that drove him to learn. “Passion is what makes the difference,” he says.
Adrián is just 31 years old, but he already feels a little long in the tooth to make it as a pop star. Despite this, he is feeling more creative than ever and is in control of his own creative process from start to finish: his composition and production reflect his experience. The good thing is that he is now able to earn a living playing in bars.
The road to Latin Funkers
While working as a mariachi, Adrián met a bassist, a trumpeter and a man who played the Cuban tres, a type of guitar he had been fascinated by for some time. He spoke with them and a little while later Latin Funkers was formed: a band born of a shared desire to entertain audiences at functions in the United Kingdom and around the world by combining Latin music and “funkiness”.
Adrián believes that they are unique in that they blend their sound with traditional musical instruments. He points to the fact that it is very rare for a Latin pop band to use a Cuban tres (typical of traditional music from the Caribbean island) and believes that he is the only musician doing so anywhere in the UK. The other instruments in the group are the guitar, the bass, the trumpet and the drums.
The band – comprising an Italian, a Mexican, a Cuban, a Venezuelan, a Colombian, a Spaniard and a Peruvian – flaunt their distinctive Latin style in their choice of shirts, hats and sunglasses.
This style is also in evidence in their songs, which are a mixture of their own creations and the work of other artists.
In 2015, Adrián cut his first record (“Fuego”), which contained four songs and was a blend of the music he loved best: Latin pop in Spanglish, Spanish pop with flamenco guitar and an electronic song in English.
As has happened with other types of music, Latin pop has broken through into the mainstream with “Despacito”, a song by Luis Fonsi in a style he is very comfortable with.
Over time, he has realised that it is easier to record and promote singles, and Adrián brought out two in 2016: “Muévelo” in Spanglish using live instruments exclusively, and “Sin límites”, which was his first offering entirely in Spanish. A year later, he brought out two more singles: “Este amor” (a romantic song in Spanish) and “Quiero de tu amor” featuring a rapper from Atlanta.
The other side of the coin
Adrián clearly loves London and believes that England offers a wide array of professional opportunities. However, there is another side to his story: that of his “dark days on English soil”. For the past two and a half years he has been fighting for a partner visa, which he should be granted because of his wife.
But in October 2015 he was held in a detention centre for immigrants for two weeks where he was “made to feel like a criminal”, as the centre was used to hold convicted criminals nearing the end of their sentences.
When his detention came to an end, the Home Office required him to check in with them every two weeks. He followed this instruction until January 2017, when he was detained mid-week because another of his visa applications had been rejected. When he arrived at the Home Office, the agents told him, “Adrián, here is your plane ticket, you are being deported to Mexico and your flight leaves at 10 p.m.” It was a blow to him, but his lawyer made an emergency intervention and managed to cancel the flight.
Today, he is still checking in with the Home Office every fortnight and he will soon hear what decisions has been made on his case. If his application is rejected, he will return to his home country, where he has family and a decent financial situation.
(Translated by Roz Harvey) – Photos: Pixabay