AJ Leone remembers the first time he heard Afro-Peruvian music. Chilean-born Osvaldo Vergara, who formed the band Kombucheros in 2003 in Santa Cruz, showed it to him.
“It’s just a different addictive rhythm that I got stuck on. I can’t explain it,” Leone says.
From 2008 through 2015, Leone joined Osvaldo’s band. He also made several trips down to Peru to dig a little deeper into the music and the culture. He particularly enjoyed touring in Latin America as a solo artist.
“It’s a more laid-back, casual formula down there. It’s easy to get around and travel as a musician. It’ll be fun to see what this little project can do down there,” he says.
He’s returning to Latin America for a three-month tour, starting in January, but this time with his band Judo No, a trio that encompasses some of those Afro-Peruvian influences he’s loved for the past decade, but with a much greater array of styles. It’s psychedelic, hip-hop, and just whatever crazy jazz and indie influences crosses the minds of the three members: Leone (vocals, multiple instruments), Lauren Albert (vocals, keys), and Chris Gourlay (drums).
“Lauren’s got a very classically trained background. She brings a lot to the table,” Leone says. “Chris has got a drum style I’ve never heard before. He was living in Chicago and played in some crazy band that was kind of like Animal Collective, it was very electronic.”
The group formed in 2016 (conversations started in 2015), and they’ve just recently been playing shows locally. Their first show was last August. They released a highly eclectic LP in May of this year, and have another genre-hopping release in the works planned for Spring 2018.
“I grew up in America with a mash of different cultures, I just kind of wanted to mash it all together with a little modern twist and all that stuff. We want to reach the most people possible,” Leone says.
INFO: 9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 13. Crepe Place. 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $10. 429-6994.