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Let's Mexam Music, Inc.: Press

Music reviews

Myth Congeniality
Beto Hale's second release is world-class.
By Dave Herrera
published: April 06, 2006

With his spiky, dishwater-blond hair and jade-green eyes, you'd never suspect that Beto Hale is Mexican. But he is. The grandson of a Polish Jew who emigrated to Mexico in 1921, Hale is Mexican by birth, with Polish, French, Welsh, Irish and Scottish ancestry in his blood. He grew up in Mexico City, coming of age in an upper-middle-class neighborhood with friends of all ethnicities and socio-economic backgrounds -- which invariably influenced his music as well as his overall outlook on life.

Beto Hale sorts through his American Mythology this Friday, April 7, at the Walnut Room.

Subject(s):
Beto Hale "I consider myself to be eclectic musically," Hale muses, with only the slightest hint of an accent. "And as a person, I'm very open to different influences and different points of view. If anything, growing up in a city like that will definitely sharpen your mind and your ability to accept different things, because there's extreme poverty down there. You see two-year-old kids begging for money all over the city, and you'll also see the richest people you'll ever see -- there are billionaires down there. The contrast is huge."
If Mexico City shaped his worldview, Hale has Mexican radio to thank for the many musical inclinations he displays on American Mythology, his sophomore effort, which will be released this Friday, April 7, at the Walnut Room. "For me, there's no difference between a really good Billy Joel song or a good Rush song or a good Beatles song," he says. "I mean, it's just music. That's how you grow up down there. The radio is really diverse. When you listen to the radio, you'll hear a rock band from Mexico play, and then the very next song will be an '80s pop hit, and then after that the latest from the Foo Fighters. It's way less segregated than radio here. I think I wouldn't have necessarily come up with the variety of influences I have if I hadn't grown up there."

When Hale was eight, his parents -- who'd met at a hotel bar in Mexico City in 1968, when his mother, a Yale graduate, was on vacation -- got divorced. About that time, Hale and his mother went to Philadelphia to visit her family, and she bought him his first toy drum kit. But while music soon became a means of escape, Hale was already a burgeoning musician. "I think I was already a drummer before I owned it," he says of that first kit. "I had a little tambourine and a little toy drum, and I used to literally play with pencils to Beatles records or whatever was in the house."

After several years of playing along with the Fab Four, Hale graduated to a real drum set and joined an original band with two other kids whose parents were American diplomats. The young three-piece, which performed under the moniker Search, consisted of keyboards, drums and vocals, and played assorted gigs around town -- the most notable of which was at the American ambassador's house. Later, after Hale entered high school, he played drums in various outfits that primarily covered such classic-rock staples as "Stairway to Heaven" and "Hotel California." He also took classical guitar instruction, but soon lost interest; like school, he says, it was a bit too structured. Instead, he taught himself how to play six-string by studying the Guitarra F´cil charts sold at newsstands across Mexico City; he also picked up piano and began writing his own songs.

After graduating from high school at seventeen, he joined Timbiriche, a platinum-selling teen act, as a keyboardist for a three-month tour. But then his father was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's Disease, the progressive neuromuscular malady that would claim his life three years later. "I'm an only child, and we were really tight," Hale says. "Him passing away really hit hard and actually inspired a few of the songs and a lot of the passion I put into things I've done. He always supported me. He was at every recital I ever did, every show; he took photos and videos. I had to grow up a lot faster than maybe a typical twenty-year-old has to. When you're twenty, you're still a kid. It takes you all of your twenties to more or less figure out what you want to do. But when he died, I thought about how he was fine until he got this thing, and then in three years he was gone. And I thought how that could happen to any of us, so let's just go for it. I'll do what I want to do and do my best. I'm not going to be half-assed about it."

Hale promptly applied to the Berklee College of Music, the far-from-half-assed school in Boston he'd visited years earlier with his mother, and received a full drum scholarship. In 1996, shortly after graduating, he landed an internship at KMA studios in Manhattan, where he met the musicians who became his bandmates in the Cogs, a New York pop-punk outfit. But two years later, he was heading west: A former schoolmate who'd gotten a job at Músico Pro, an internationally renowned Spanish-language publication based in Boulder, had given Hale a chance to freelance, then offered him a spot as the magazine's assistant editor. That fall, despite minimal journalism experience, he became the editor-in-chief, a spot he held until 2004. That's when he and his wife launched Let's Mexam Music Inc., a translation company, and Hale decided to focus the rest of his energies on becoming a full-time musician.

When he'd put out his first disc, Sube, in 2000, the response had been underwhelming. "Locally, almost nobody reacted," he remembers. "I would do gigs at the Soiled Dove and nobody would show up. I got discouraged. I also didn't know how to even start promoting shows, because I didn't know anybody." Although he's still flying beneath the radar, he's hopeful that this disc will do better.

And Hale has reason to be optimistic: Mythology is an absolutely gorgeous album, an enchanting nineteen-song collection that will take your breath away. Sung half in English and half in Spanish, the sublime effort features Hale on every instrument except bass and highlights his effervescent tenor vocals, which are punctuated by his percussive playing style. "I can do four different rhythms at the same time," he notes, "one with each limb, and sing. Playing the piano only requires two hands. The coordination is easier for a pianist than a drummer if you're doing complex stuff. I play piano and guitar in a way that I wouldn't if I didn't play drums."

Just like his lineage, Hale's music knows no boundaries.
Review by Jo-Ann Greene
Beto Hale must be one of the most intriguing artists on the music scene today. The Mexican-born multi-instrumentalist trained at home before honing his skills in the U.S., and his exuberant embrace of myriad musical styles suggests that whatever cultural shock he experienced, it never spiralled into a culture clash. Instead, Hale brought together not just north and south, but Old and New World, modern musical fashions and their earlier antecedents. Mono-lingual listeners will be at a bit of a disadvantage, as Hale delivers half of American Mythology in Spanish, so if there is an overarching theme or concept to this set, it's lost in translation. His music, however, speaks for itself, and much of the Western world, for his love of music, all types of music, imbues every note of this set. Hale's subtle and supple blends of genres are evident from the get-go, with "Un Dia Mas" built on a muted hardcore riff, but the soul of the song belongs to the post-punk era, with the jangly guitars inspired by Echo & the Bunnymen. "Bring Me Joy" brings together Britpop and U2, while "Look at the Way" recalls the new wave, as does "The World from Above," which tips a hat to the Cars. Rewinding time a few years, "Save Us" is pure punk, "En Tus Labios" and "No Puedo Ver Mas Alla" the polar opposite, both rock ballads, two of a clutch of such moving numbers on the set. "Don't Run Away from Joy" meanwhile speeds straight into the arms of '70s British rock, as does the Mott the Hoople-flavored "Manto de Luz." These electric guitar-driven pieces are counterpointed by numbers that are built around acoustic guitar, like "Hoy" and "Forever." "Septimbre," in contrast, features sophisticated, jazzy guitar, and "Atardecer" a folky feel. But the fulcrum of virtually ever song on this set is the drums, whose rhythms are far removed from the normal rock fare. These complex rhythms add another stylistic layer to the songs, often contrasting and counterpointing the musical arrangements above. This perhaps is Hale's signature, for his use of drums is absolutely unique, and on the album's most experimental piece, "Fish," it's breathtaking as he lashes out a big-band drum pattern which underpins a piece that shimmers across national boundaries and genres. Hale's America may be far from perfect, as "Save Us" makes plain, but her melting pot of music has provided him with sustenance and inspiration, and as with so many immigrants, has provided him the opportunity to fulfill his dreams. A myth in the making, this phenomenal self-produced album is a masterpiece.
By Brian Kenney
A split personality exists in Beto Hale, a duality that’s not based on artistic indecisiveness or a question of direction. It’s more of artistic inventiveness. Like a painter with a huge palette, Hale has so many colors to chose from, that it’s never known what hue will be placed on the canvas next.

This month, singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Hale will release American Mythology, a disc intensely influenced by his multi-cultural dual citizenship. Hale’s tenor, a bright and ringing tone influenced by the melodic styles of every voice from John Denver to Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne, meshes with Santana-like guitar virtuosity and is complimented by Hale’s passionate soft jazzy percussion.

American Mythology is unique in that it is a lush, multi-layered, bilingual disc. With this duality, this split, Hale had a number of directions he could have chosen in which to release the disc. “At first I thought I’d do the first 10 songs in one language, and then 10 in another,” Hale recently told The Marquee. “But I wasn’t sure if my whole feeling would get across.”

Fearing he would alienate one audience or another, he also had the choice of pressing two entirely different discs. Surveying friends, he finally decided to split the disc linguistically. “I have always written in a neutral way. So for my own benefit, I try to avoid any slang. So someone who listens from Spain or Cuba would not have a hard time getting what I’m saying,” he said.

It’s this approachability that seduces the listener and finds Hale’s songs so familiar. “Musically it flows, so I believe that people [who listen] will get over the language barrier. People who don’t speak any Spanish have come back and said ‘I love ‘En tu Labios’ or ‘Hoy.’’ They just connect with the vibe going on. Even the art work and lyrics are translated. For every song on American Mythology, I’ve put at least the first chorus and first verse in the other language.”

Hale’s musical pedigree runs deep. First introduced to a drum kit at the age of eight, classical guitar followed, and the natural progression took him to the piano. By the age of 11 he was playing in his first band, which had the privilege of performing in front of the U.S. embassy in Mexico City. During his teenage years he toured Mexico as a second keyboardist for the chart topping, ultra-popular teen pop band Timbiriche. These days, however, he has slowed down a bit and prefers immediate and intimate settings.

“I’ve run the gamut. I’ve had the chance to perform in front of 15,000 people. But I really look forward to smaller places, where you have 200-250 people and you can still have an intimate connection with the audience. My music has an element that if you lose that certain intimacy, [that element] might get lost in the mix. I can connect in mid-size venues, which lends itself to my introspection. Not that I wouldn’t like to play Wembley someday,” he said with a laugh.

Having gained exposure to the industry early on, Hale pursued the dream that entices every accomplished musician: he applied to Berklee School of Music and was accepted with a percussion scholarship. It’s no surprise that with such a wide ranging musical knowledge, Hale plays just about every instrument on American Mythology.

American Mythology is at once experimental and focused. It also possesses an immediacy that comes from his days in New York City playing with the punk outfit The Cogs. “On this album, things get going right away,” he said. “And I think that comes from playing in a punk band, because two minutes was a long time for a song. But you can do so much in two minutes. Kind of a less is more. A more lean approach. No extra fat.”

:: Beto Hale :: CD Release Party ::

:: Walnut Room :: April 7 ::
Beto Hale
By Jake Nelson
published: August 03, 2006

Though he has only recently released his second album, Beto Hale has been a musician nearly his entire life. Performing at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City when he was eleven, Hale got an early start crafting his unique blend of pop-punk, Brit-pop, and New Wave. He learned the drums when he was eight, the guitar when he was ten, and the piano when he was in high school. After graduating, he joined the chart-topping Mexican pop band Timbiriche for a short stint before making his way to the U.S., where he attended Berklee College of Music in Boston. Once he finished school for good, Hale joined pop-punk band the Cogs and recorded two albums with them before taking a musical break and a job as an assistant editor at a Spanish music magazine. In 2004 he quit to make music professionally and began working on American Mythology, his sophomore album that ranges in melodies, genres, and — with half the lyrics in English and half in Spanish — even languages.
Beto Hale, American Mythology (Lalo Records). Raised on Mexican radio, Mexico City native Beto Hale learned early on to appreciate musical diversity -- and it shows on American Mythology, his sophomore effort. Sung half in English and half in Spanish, Mythology is an exotic, breath-taking excursion that finds the Berklee-trained multi-instrumentalist exploring several styles with equal aplomb. -- Herrera
Beto Hale y su nueva producción, American Mythology
11/01/2006
Por Fabio García

American Mythology es el título que Beto Hale eligió para bautizar a su nueva producción. Este compositor, cantante, multi-instrumentista y productor de origen mexicano, pero que reside desde hace varios años en Estados Unidos, presenta desde febrero 2006 su nuevo lanzamiento que conserva, naturalmente, elementos de su anterior ?Sube?, y se anima con éxito, a intentar nuevos caminos.

Beto Hale
American Mythology
Lalo Records
El CD está compuesto por 18 canciones más 1 regalo con la versión eléctrica del tercer tema ?Hoy?. En total tenemos algo más de 1 hora de fresca música que alterna letras en español y en inglés.
Sinceramente resulta placentero escuchar cada una de las canciones. En medio de un ambiente saturado de melodías mediocres, armonías que no aportan nada, de letras sacadas de moldes y de un sonido plano y supercomprimido ? salvo honrosas excepciones ?, American Mythology se convierte en una obligación a la hora de buscar muy buena música para acariciar nuestros sentidos.
Desde lo musical, cada tema despierta interés ya que Beto sorprende con modulaciones o cuasi-modulaciones que cambian el rumbo de la canción marcado hasta ese momento. No esperen encontrar la típica ?cancioncita? de dos acordes con una melodía que cualquiera podría imaginar; o la habitual ?baladita? cursi de amor de algunas producciones latinas. El amor, como varios otros temas cotidianos, está presente pero abordado desde una perspectiva más adulta, tanto desde el plano verbal como del musical.
Hermosas melodías, letras profundas, armonías que abren caminos a medida que avanzan, una instrumentación abierta que contribuye a obtener un sonido cristalino, suave y agresivo donde se lo necesita; así es American Mythology.
Una producción marcada básicamente con muchas guitarras acústicas y eléctricas, pianos, batería acústica, bajo, más algún que otro toque de programación en algunas intros o outros.
En la actualidad resulta un tanto difícil enmarcar estilísticamente un CD, más cuando en discos de supuestas bandas de ?Rock? aparecen cumbia, ska, y otros ritmos de populares de moda. American Mythology tiene coherencia. No hay grandes saltos de estilo, salvo en la canción ?Septiembre?. Las demás canciones transitan desde las hermosas baladas ?Forever? o ?If I?, hasta sonidos más duros como ?No puedo ver más allá? o ?Save Us?. El resto de los tracks se ubican en lugares intermedios, con absoluta personalidad, como ?Santo cielo?; ?Look at the way? o ?Answers?.
Siempre es bueno escuchar nueva música y Beto Hale nos trae una propuesta más que interesante.
Más información
www.betohale.com
Fabio D. García
fabiodg@arnet.com.ar

Translation recommendations

Beto Hale was our first choice when translating Live Sound International Magazine.
He works quickly and professionally and was able to meet a tight deadline.

Mark Herman
Publisher
Live Sound International
Jan 22nd 2009
To whom it may concern,
I want to highly recommend Beto Hale as an English-Spanish translator.
During 2007 and 2008, Beto translated hundreds of pages worth of guitar courses for my company, LTP, which distributes its products throughout Australia.
His work was delivered on a timely manner and he was always very attentive to detail. In various occasions, he even pointed out mistakes and typos in the original English text, sending us the correct text.
I would encourage you to hire Beto for your Spanish translation needs without hesitation.
Thank you for your attention.
Sincerely,

Gary Turner
Director
LTP Publishing Pty Ltd
“I can assure you that any project Beto Hale is involved in, he will make it as good as it can be--- and do so with class”
“I highly recommend Mr. Hale as a Spanish translator. His precise understanding of the Spanish language and reliability to keep on a given schedule is above question”
“Thanks for a great job done on our translation project. I really appreciate your comments and suggestions on making it a n easier read for our customers. Plus, you got everything done on time!”
Sue Kinkade, Remo, Inc. (www.remo.com)
Sue Kinkade - Remo, Inc. (Jan 22, 2009)
“I want to thank Beto and Sandra for the outstanding job they did for us on Spanish translation for our National Park Service WebRangers site for kids, www.nps.gov/webrangers. Their work was accurate and delivered on time and within budget.”
Thomas L. Davies, U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Project Manager for WebRangers