2019 Canadian Latin Award nominees SWA Salsa Orchestra fuse traditional salsa with the rhythms of hip-hop, R&B, and soul, putting an urban twist on traditional Latin American sounds.
As well as making great music, the Toronto-based band also has a mission to collaborate with and support emerging artists, offering them musical training and professional opportunities. The members of SWA are not only colleagues, but also long-time friends, who believe that diversity and unity are the keys to success.
In anticipation of SWA’s February 15th concert at Lula, featuring New York-based salsa multi-instrumentalist Sebastian Natal as a special guest, Lula Lounge’s Zamira Lacosta sat down for a chat with SWA members Alex Naar (also the band’s musical director), Andres Magno (band manager), and Jairo Acuña, (promotions manager).
Zamira: Tell me about your group’s name.
SWA: The name SWA is a tribute to one of the greatest and most influential groups in the history of hip-hop, N.W.A.
Zamira: How long have you been playing together as a band?
SWA: We formed SWA in January 2016, so 4 years!
Zamira: SWA is a big group! How many members are in the band?
SWA: At Lula, we always play with as a 14-piece band, and sometimes also feature DJ Grouch who’s originally from Panama, and is a veteran of Toronto’s DJ scene. Our core band members are Albany Caldera (vocals) Jonathan Amador (bass), Jairo Acuña (congas), Marco de La Cruz (piano), Gerardo Magno (cowbell, tambora, bongos), Ricky Franco (vocals, guitar), Alex Naar (saxophone, vocals), Andres Magno (drums, timbales), and Marcelo Baladan (vocals).
Zamira: You’re known for your openness to collaborating with other artists. Can you mention some of the artists or groups you work with?
SWA: Yes, we really love collaborating with other musicians. Some of our favourite collabs include Toronto Hip Hop group Los Poetas, Cuban-Canadian singer Adonis Puentes, Puerto Rican singer-songwriter Ismael Miranda, Panamanian-Canadian singer Fito Blanko, Puerto Rican salsa vocalist Yan Collazo, Colombian singer Carolina la O, Uruguayan-Australian vocalist Gonzalo Po