10 Questions for Juan Jose Meza

Editor’s Note: This is a repost of my very first interview as a contributing music & entertainment writer to Popular Hispanics, originally titled From Father to Son, “Siguiendo Los Pasos” and originally posted here.  Responses translated from the Spanish.

Juan Jose Meza took time out from working on his forthcoming follow-up to his debut, Siguiendo Los Pasos, to answer my 10Q interview.  The son of legendary Colombian cumbia maestro, Lisandro Meza, Juan draws on and pays tribute to  both his father’s and his country’s musical legacy.  At the same time, he looks to the future to make his own indelible mark and bring new sounds to his music.  See what he had to say about it all below.

Click the first pic to go to his official site and second, at the end of the interview, to get to his Facebook Page.


1. How important is your father’s legacy to the genre of cumbia, to Colombia, and to the world? Very important because my father has been a great herald of cumbia to the world and has kept alive a rhythm that is so representative in Colombia, such as cumbia, and has taken it to every corner of the world; because of that he has gained the affection, respect, and admiration of his audience.  It’s very important that the new generation learn from this great Colombian artist, my dear and beloved father.  

2. Your debut release is entitled, Siguiendo Los Pasos, an obvious ode to your father.  How do you balance the line between paying tribute to your father by following in his footsteps and creating your own legacy by creating your own distinct sound and forging new ground? First of all, my father is my teacher.  He is the musical example that I want to follow in order to leave that lasting impression in the hearts of his supporters.  He has played an important role in regards to my songs with his musical support and advice.

On the other hand, I want my songs to convey different sounds, arrangements with modern rhythms that clearly conserve the essence of cumbia and traditional Colombian rhythms.  I will build my path and leave my own footprints just as my father has done.

3. Is it important to you that your son follow in your and your father’s footsteps? It’s very important, and I like that my son was born with that great talent and that he will continue to spread our music and legacy throughout the world.  I am 100% proud of him and know that he will go far.

4. Tropical music is such a rich and layered genre consisting of so many sub-genres that can mean so many things to so many Latinos.   How would you describe tropical music? Tropical music is a combination of rhythms.  It’s the inheritance of all those cultures that came through our Colombian coast.  And it’s that same feeling and joy of a coastal town that spreads itself to any part of the world.

5. Online they describe your father’s sound as “a cross between rural Dominican merengue, Louisiana zydeco, and Tex-Mex norteño.”  Would you agree?   How would you describe cumbia? When describing my father I see an artist with his own stamp and style that can play a cumbia, a porro, a salsa, a caribeño, and other rhythms. but that adds that unique cadence that he plays the accordion with; that is why he is the great Lisandro Meza, admired and respected by his public.

Cumbia is a very sensual and interesting rhythm since the dance is a flirtation between a woman and man at the same time that it is the combination of a black man with his drum and an Indian with his bagpipes.  I really like cumbia and even more so when I am singing it.

6. Within that context, how would you describe your sound?  What are the genres that you incorporate into your music?  What is the Colombian part that you bring to the table? I describe my sound as modern and sensual as I’m trying to introduce my own musical style with different sounds.  I bring different genres like cumbia, vallenato, porro, caribeño, a fusion of bachata and vallenato, etc.  My Colombian folklore is what I am trying to bring to the table with my new project and to present my music with my own style.

7. You were working on your new record recently.  How will your new material be different than what was on Siguiendo Los Pasos?  Do you have a title, yet?  When can we expect the release? Thank God that we completed my new musical project, which is very different from my first project and in much greater demand.  On this project, I try to be more versatile and show more of my Colombian rhythms.  Although it is yet to be titled, we are planning the release for early next year.

8. Is it different being Colombiano in the US than it is when you’re in Colombia?  What about musically, do Latinos receive your music differently whether you are in the US or in Latin America? The difference is that when you’re outside of Colombia you feel the patriotism on a greater level and when you sing the music of your country Colombians are filled with nostalgia.

I think the reception to my music is the same anywhere in the world since I see that the response and admiration of the audience is the same.

9. Speaking of legacies and forging new ground, I noticed one of your songs incorporates a little reggaeton and you’ve worked with your father as well, do you think that otherwise there is a divide between the music and artists of older generations like your father’s (cumbia, salsa, merengue, etc.) and newer, younger Latin artists and music (reggaeton, pop, rock, etc.)? Or do they know and respect the history?  Is there somewhere people can meet in the middle as music-makers and music fans? The truth is that when the measure of time is taken everything changes and new ideas and musical propositions emerge, which is very valid because different eras and new generations live on.  For my part, I try to introduce new things but always while keeping in mind and carefully managing the basic keys of folk.  What we must never forget is that everything we have learned comes from the previous generation and that is where the root of our beautiful Latin music comes from.

10. Give me an exclusive of something exciting that is coming up for you that your fans will be reading for the first time [at Popular Hispanics].
The exciting exclusive is my new music project that was created with much love for everyone who likes good music.  I’m coming with a very commercial and international product for all tastes.  I’m thanking God once again for the great opportunity that he has given me to record this great project and I hope that with the help of my supporters that it will be a success like Siguiendo Los Pasos was.  Thanks to the [Popular Hispanics] team for this great opportunity, blessings, and until next time.


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