Directed by Ambar Navarro
Written by: Victor Valle
My first conversation with Mauri Tapia was over a phone call as I was walking around the streets of San Francisco. I was immediately taken aback when we started talking. His demeanor was collected and cool. It felt calming. This was someone who had experienced some things. Some really, really hard things. But also someone who had learned to take that hurt and paint it beautiful for everyone to see.
Photo by Max Flick
Mauri – or the performer known as Los Retros – really captured my attention after I saw him live for the first time. There are few moments you look on stage and see a performer completely lose themselves in the art – as if everything else truly fades to black and all they see is the music in front of them as they both engage in an intertwining waltz, bouncing together to the rhythm, to the stories that interlace the drums, the bass, the melody.
Photo by Max Flick
Los Retros has helped to put Oxnard on the map and still remembers where his roots grow deep. From joining Cuco on his sold-out West Coast tour to signing with Stones Throw Records, there’s much, much more to see come out of the kid from Oxnard.
We spoke to him about his growing up in the small seaside town, his influences, and what he is really chasing with his music.
How would you describe who Mauri Tapia is?
One who was once lost but has now been found. Seeking journeys across the land of the privileged to hopefully spread humility and love.
What were you interested in as a kid? What was your childhood like?
When I was young I had good friends I grew up with five who were really tight with me. As much as we lived very unfortunate lives, we always had time for fun like playing tag, extreme activities, building Legos, and using other toys. Simple days. We never had access to any technology except video games and television when there weren’t as many channels like today. In the other half of my life, I was at home with a full house. People coming and going. Such as family members and people who needed room to sleep. I had 3 siblings. For the most part, if it wasn’t swap meet on Sundays, we all were very independent and doing our things. I always hanged out in my backyard making up stories and adventures for myself. If it wasn’t that, I was inside playing free roam games. Those were my favorite. Despite us being broke and always late on rent, I found myself being creative away from inside technology.
When did the interest in creating music begin? Any musicians in the family?
I never had anyone in my family take music to the world. My mom played music cleaning, my dad would play music on the road to the swap meet, my older brother and sister would play mainstream music on the radio, iPod, CDs, MTV when it was cool. I was only a listener because I never had my own access or even money to access records or CDs of my own choice. When I turned 8 my brother introduced the guitar to the house and I would learn by seeing him play and trying it when he wasn’t around or he would be mad at me but eventually he cared no more. When I turned 11 my brother showed me a website that lets you produce music and the rest is history.
What keeps you motivated to keep creating? Is there a certain message you try to convey when making music?
Before I made music because I wanted to be like my inspirers back then who were: Deadmau5, a couple of rappers, and some more producers. Now I have turned from my old desires and make music to glorify God.
I remember standing next to your brother at our show last year & I thought that it was pretty awesome seeing him support you. What does that mean to you, and does your family usually attend your live shows? How have they coped with the idea of you pursuing music?
For the most part, my parents saw it being impossible to make a living by doing music because we were broke. However, now they know I could be living the life of a famous musician, but because of my morals, they are supportive of my decision in making music to spread the good news about a true passion for art. None of my siblings ever caught on to my work until my name became more popular.
Talk about how it is creating music in your living room? What’s that like for you? Would you have it any other way?
I would have it any way that consists of being home. For me, home is no longer a material place but simply where I can rest. I now rest with my beautiful love, Lupe, and my God.
What has the process been like for you not having a manager and handling everything yourself?
I think not having a representative or anyone knowledgeable to direct me was a great decision because I was always the kind to do things on my own. In a sense, I learned a lot by being in awkward situations where I have to figure it out or people would know I’m an amateur but that didn’t stop me and I don’t think I miss out even if don’t know what I’m doing because the reason for my appearance in the industry is to spread the good news about how music doesn’t have a specific standard, only passion.. and anything else is extra nonsense to make big bucks.
Since money isn’t something you chase within your music career, what is that “thing” you are chasing? What sort of vision do you have for yourself and the team?
I look forward to advancing in my understanding of peace and how it can exist in all places. Music right now is a great place to reach many people. Whether people see it coming or not, my hope is for those who listen. It also reminds me of the 49ers and the Gold Rush where all kinds of people were coming to California because of the sudden discovery of so much gold for miners. I’m a miner, the band are my closest peeps who can hopefully get a piece before all the gold is gone. Regardless of what they will use their gold for, I’m bringing mine home to family and that I may give to the needy.
How has your musical journey been thus far, especially having your brother, wife, and friend with you on the ride?
Very stressful, times are changing fast and it’s hard to be true to one’s self, in terms of morality.
You released “Retrospect” in 2019 under Stones Throw Records. Talk about what that has been like working alongside them? Was it what you imagined? Are there any music collaborations within the Stones Throw team you are currently working on?
I got a lot of insight on many things music history and met many artists even aside from the label, I thank and give acknowledgment to the help of peanut butter wolf for directing me to people. It was completely different than I expected but I have no complaints, only regrets in my own actions.
Your tour with The Frights was unfortunately postponed due to the current situation we are facing. Any updates on the tour you can share with your fans?
Just like all other artists, shows will be delayed until further notice from the venues!
Thanks for the time, Mauri!
Thank you guys, you have been very kind!