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Photo: Ross Harris @Stones Throw Records
Photo: Ross Harris @Stones Throw Records

Los Retros, a Mexican-American multi-instrumentalist, wants you to take a break from life

Los Retros is the moniker of Mauri Tapia, a California-born multi-instrumentalist.

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Mauri Tapia is a first-generation Mexican-American musician who began experimenting with music as a child. 

Tapia, at age eight, would borrow his older brother’s guitar. At sixteen, he created his first set of songs to be shared online. Utilizing an old mixer to create his music, the young musician found himself coming into a ‘jack-of-all-trades’ role early in his career.

Tapia is from Oxnard, California, and plays music under the name Los Retros

Maintaining a serious playing career since his teenage years, Los Retros is a multi-instrumentalist who plays the majority of the instruments for his recordings.

While mostly a solo act, Los Retros has also shifted lineups to not only include himself. Contributors to Los Retros throughout his career include guitarist Chaisson Nuusolia and Tapia’s spouse, Lupe, who has played keyboard for the project.

Los Retros was originally known as ‘Retrospect,’ but the name was changed to stand out more, and to avoid conflict with other artists who may adopt the common word for themselves. At that point, the project was also composed of Tapia and other musicians. 

Los Retros’ first official tape was released as Retrospect. 

Nowadays, many of these early songs have been revitalized, such as “Likewise,” which opens with an offering from Tapia for you to “take a break from life”: a sentiment that sums up the effect Los Retros’ music may have on listeners.

Los Retros was heavily inspired by alternative pop and soft rock acts that came out of Central and South America between the 1970s and the 1980s. Tapia believes these musical interests helped formulate his sound. 

Tapia is the son of Mexican immigrants. His parents would work long hours doing farm field work throughout his childhood. Due to loneliness, Tapia would also begin his early experimentation with music. 

He would spend time listening to his parents' record collections, which included artists such as Los Freddys and Los Terricolas. 

The name ‘Los Retros’ pays homage to the Chilean pop group, Los Ángeles Negros — “the black angels” in English — which originally formed in 1968. Tapia has also expressed influence from funk, soul, and hip-hop. The earliest genres Tapia would play were punk and metal.

Los Retros had a quick rise to stardom after the release of his single “Someone To Spend Time With.” Soon after, Tapia was touring the American West Coast with his friend, the Latinx pop star, Cuco.

Now signed to Stones Throw Records — a deal he landed after the DJ Peanut Butter Wolf, the company’s boss, noticed him — Los Retros has steadily built a career on melodic jazz and funk, but influences can be picked out from other areas.

In 2019, Los Retros released his debut EP, Retrospect, on Stones Throw. The EP drew from Tapia’s personal experiences in life and love. Retrospect was written with an array of influences including R&B and psychedelic. 

The follow-up EP Everlasting was released in 2020 from a pandemic-informed setting. The EP was said to be written as a “message to the generations in the end times.” 

While this depiction sounds dour, the music of Everlasting carries a laid back and carefree sound similar to other Los Retros recordings, even while songs like “The Messiah” see Tapia stepping out of his usual songwriting topics.

Los Retros’ 2021 EP Looking Back revives a handful of classic Los Retros’ songs. The tracklist includes early songs like “Moon Ride” and “It’s Got To Be You.” 

These songs are not being returned in bad condition. These effective ballads from earlier years hold just as much weight as when they first popped up online. 

Bringing back older tracks plays into the EP’s themes of nostalgia. The project deals with self-identity and love, as older songs are paired with some new ones like “Amtrak,” juxtaposing the different eras of Los Retros. 

Los Retros will be playing a brief collection of shows this Fall in Los Angeles, Boston, and Minneapolis.

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