Two Languages one Band: Interview with Bilingual Band Making Movies (Feature for Extra)

“El frio me a tormenta” or the cold torments me, is the chorus of Making Movies pulsing rock song Tormenta. It’s about missing your family and wanting to visit your home, and family at Christmas.  That’s something that many immigrants in the US, who fear they will not be let back into the US, don’t have the freedom to do.  It speaks to a difficult situation, but it’s not self-pitying or sad.  The song is defiant.  It makes for the kind of building, anthemic, song that the group the specializes in.

Making Movies, whose name was inspired by a 1978 Dire Straits album with the same name, is a truly bilingual band.  Their music doesn’t throw the odd word in a different language, it’s not Black Eyed Peas yelling “mazel tov” for some reason.  The band crafts powerful songs in English and Spanish that are fully realized ideas.

Making Movies’ chief songwriter Enrique Chi is a truly bilingual writer.  Born in Panama, Enrique writes most of his songs in English first, “Writing is a very unconscious thing…  I live in the US so still most of my day I speak more English than Spanish, so when I go to write a lot of times it starts in English and have to go from the English to the Spanish.”

Asked to elaborate on when and how they choose to translate a song into Spanish, Enrique’s brother Diego Chi (who is also in the band) adds, “It’s another tool in the tool box.”  If something isn’t working on a song one option they have in changing the sound or the feel is changing the language. Enrique finished that thought by saying “It’s funny ‘cause some of our songs just don’t work in English.”

Extra spoke with Making Movies at the House of Blues on a night they were scheduled to open for Andres Calamaro.  After the show was cancelled, the band was disappointed, but still excited about their tour.  It’s a reality for an up and coming band on tour that not every opportunity works out, Making Movies talked about having been stiffed by shady promoters on other tours.  Happily, this tour, which brings the band back to Chicago Saturday the 15th to play at Juniors in Pilsen, seems to be more good than bad so far.  Juan-Carlos Chaurand who plays percussion and keyboards for the band talked about how they have started to build a following in some cities, while others are brand new.

The band’s touring the country in a 15 passenger van that the five musicians share with their instruments.  Each taking turns driving.  With 20 shows scheduled on a three-week tour they play a show just about every day. Before starting the interview Enrique talked about how much he and the band love to play.  For a band with a lot to say in two languages, a lot of shows is a good thing.

Article also available en Español