Puerto Rican multi-instrumentalist William "Pipo" Torres takes the ukulele, an instrument traditionally associated with Hawaiian or mainstream music, and makes it totally his own. He mixes his unorthodox blend of Reggae, Electro, DubStep, HipHop, Salsa, Rumba, Industrial, Rock, Trova, Ska and other influences and what emerges is pure alchemy! Luna loves encouraging people to mix things up — so have a listen and challenge yourself to use a classic instrument in a new way!
Luna sits down for an interview with Pipo.
What attracted you to Luna?
When I first saw Luna I was looking for an electric ukulele and I came across the Tattoo Concert uke. The art on the instrument made the uke itself like a work of art! Then I used one with my setup and it was perfect. Sound and feel was the thing I was looking for in the uke and I got it with the Tattoo.
Did you have formal training or are you self taught?
I'm self taught. My teachers are all the people that I played with for 17 years.
What instruments do you play other than the Tattoo uke?
Electric Guitar, Bass Guitar.
What was the first spark that made you passionate about music?
When I realized that you could make someone really feel a feeling through music. Maybe happy, relaxed, funny, even tense.
(Luna says: Music is what feelings sound like!)
Pipo Torres on stage
You list a lot of diverse bands that you play with. Tell us something about the range of your musical styles.
The ones that I'm a part of now include Adam Zoom, a rock band that creates theatrical performance on stage with a lot of synth sounds for an electric sci-fi sound. Another is Siloé, a reggae band in which every band member adds a unique sound element from salsa, jazz, trip hop, progressive, dancehall, and full on classic reggae sound.
I play bass with DaZoo. The band and four voices go from hip hop to classic rock melodies aand the sound is like a party with a House/Electro/Funk DJ. I also play for Sie7e. The composer has gathered a group of musicians that mix different textures from latin folk, samba, reggae etc., what he describes as "feel good" music. I also produce music for The Puerto Rico Dubstep Crew to perform live.
Do you have a favorite style?
It's really hard to say. It depends on the way that I feel.
Who were your musical influences?
Robert Fripp, Silvio Rodríquez, Tom Morello, Bobby McFerrin, Vinnie Colaiuta, Horacio Hernandez, The Edge, Gustavo Cerati, The Beattles, Robi Rosa,Buena Vista Social Club, Tool.
What are some of your other passions?
I also love to direct, edit and score videos. Listen and adapt to different cultures and styles of music.
Did you have to sacrifice anything in particular to pursue your musical career?
I guess the way of life that has boundaries and systematic future ahead. Like a secure job that represents stability.
What are you most proud of musically?
The experience of working with musicians that are leaving marked traces in music history.
What's your next CD?
Two of the groups I work with released CDs in 2011: Sie7e in the US
and Puerto Rico (and they are spreading to Latin America and Europe); and Siloé just released their first album.
Both use the uke. Adam Zoom is scheduled to release a second CD, Feb 2012.
Do you play any benefit shows? What causes are close to your heart?
I have. I did a show for the Haiti earthquake aid in Puerto Rico, muscular dystrophy, and for a program that teaches art to kids.
Any additional information you'd like Luna fans to know?
La simplicidad de una nota con una rica textura te puede llenar el alma.
~the simplicity of a richly textured note can fill your entire soul~
What is your favorite word?
Pipo's Luna instruments:
"Bomba" —from bomba y plena— percussion-driven musical traditions that move people to dance.
the Tattoo Concert Ukulele and the Henna Paisley T Black