Piero F. Giunti
Eastside Luna Luv

By Gabriel San Roman

Las Cafeteras, a seven-piece son jarocho inspired ensemble from East Los Angeles, are beaming after the release of their latest music video “Luna Lovers,” which we debuted last week.

The song is the second single off the band's It's Time debut. Directed by John Cantú, “Luna Lovers” can be seen by everyone on Vevo today (it's below). We spoke with Cantú and group member Hector Flores on how it all came together.

The filmmaker and the folk-fusionists met each other out where the group built up its fan base early on. “I had known Las Cafeteras through a lot of community events,” says Cantú, whose previous credits includes Rushing Waters, Rising Dreams: How the Arts are Transforming a Community, a documentary about Tía Chucha's Centro Cultural, the legendary Northeastern San Fernando Valley cultural space founded by author Luis Rodriguez.

“I always respected their ability to get a crowd going infusing their indigenous jarocho music while contextualizing it in modern Los Angeles.”

As the band pondered a follow-up to their popular “La Bamba Rebelde” video Cantú had an idea. “When John first came at us, it was larger than life,” says Flores. “He was trying to capture a magical essence and energy that comes from the moon.”

See also: Our feature story on Las Cafeteras

Las Cafeteras had previously dedicated “Luna Lovers” to an enforcement separated immigrant family in Arizona. They wondered if the love song could be made into a explicitly political statement.

“The filmmaker that really inspired me was George Méliès,” Cantú says. “He was the first special effects god of cinema. He had a background as a magician.” The French filmmaker's A Trip to the Moon was his most famous work. Cantú was sitting in a L.A. bar pondering what to pitch the band when the film screened. “Oh wait, this would be perfect!” he thought to himself. “I knew then I wanted to do George Méliès by way of Boyle Heights.”

The group comes from the East side, and in “Luna Lovers” there's a hint of Hollenbeck Park, but nothing too explicit.

“There's always what I call 'the walking through L.A. video,'” the director says. “What I wanted to do is reach people who don't know Las Cafeteras.” As a song “Luna Lovers” has crossover appeal with its English language letras and universal theme. The video aimed for the same.

“We really wanted to show that Chicanos love it all and do it all,” Flores add. “Latino music and videos are always in a box. We wanted to break that mold.”

It also provided the band members with the chance to assume character roles. “I'm this magician in search for my magician's assistant who has gone away,” Flores notes. Group member Denise Carlos avoids Flores' attempts to get her back. “She uses the magic and the mystery that she's learned to take people away. I'm trying to stop them from going to where they are supposed to go, which is the moon.”

Flores is transformed when given a jarana in place of his wand and joins the rest of the band on their journey to the celestial gem stone in the sky for which the song is named.

On location for the shoot, Las Cafeteras underwent their own transformation. “These elaborate sets were created and we got swallowed up into becoming these characters,” Flores recounts. “We felt like we walked into another world.”

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