Redemption is what singer-songwriter Gustavo Galindo's first Grammy nomination means to him. He's something of a Mexican John Mayer type — in both style and appearance — and is a nominee for Best Latin Pop, Rock, or Urban Album for his 2011 Spanish-language, rock/pop debut album Entre La Ciudad Y El Mar. It took him years to scrape the work together, piece by piece.
The achievement happens in the wake of a snub from the Latin Grammys. “If anything, I realized that [with that organization] there's still a lot of politics. You see the same people get voted for all the time. Mana wins alternative album of the year…since when are they alternative?” He adds that he also believes the system is rife with nepotism.
“Once the Latin Grammys happened,” he continues, “I thought 'well, that's it for this record cycle. Let's go focus on Mexico and launch the album down there.'” He cut those plans short in December when, while sitting in traffic, he received a ton of tweets congratulating him. He had no idea what for; when he found out he was nominated alongside huge acts like Mana and Calle 13, he thought there must have been a mistake.
Galindo was born in Mexico City and divided his time between there and various U.S. cities after his parents divorced when he was five. He eventually settled down in Los Angeles to study Spanish literature and government at Claremont McKenna College and started rock group Blue Judy before going solo.
“We were the band that played the two-hour parties with cover songs,” he remembers. His big break arrived in 2008 when he sent an unsolicited demo to Echo Park-based Surco Records, owned by Academy Award winning-producer/composer Gustavo Santaolalla.
Three months later he got an e-mail from Santaolalla's people saying he liked the record and his camp wanted to meet him. Universal signed him, but the major label deal hasn't proved as beneficial as he'd hoped.
“Unfortunately, I'm signed to a label that doesn't really understand what to do with songwriters,” he says, explaining how he spent money out of his own pocket to hire his own PR group to promote his album, which debuted at #1 on iTunes' Latin pop chart.
“We haven't been dependent on them for anything at all,” he adds. “It's been a frustrating learning experience.” But in the end, it's just one more reason to savor his Grammy nod.