Interview with Oro Fresco, Miami's Alternative Latin Dance Music Act

Oro Fresco's Golden Flora and Darwin Figueroa know that Latin music encompasses more than just reggaeton, the genre du jour that has made Bad Bunny and Karol G global superstars.

“When people talk about music in English, they think of all kinds of music. When it's music in Spanish, only reggaeton drives the conversation,” Figueroa tells New Times.

After Flora and Figueroa met each other at a show hosted by Miami music collective Strange Bass last year, the pair decided to join forces to concoct an alternative to the current mainstream Latin music — one with unpredictable rhythms, comedic lyrical content, and, most crucial to them, a beat that will get listeners moving on the dance floor.

The pair had a lot in common musically. Figueroa had a Colombian background, and Flora moved to Miami with his family from Venezuela when he was 10. Both knew there was so much diversity in Latin music that they didn't hear being represented in Miami.

“We spent the first year working on our chemistry,” Flora says. “Our first mission was to establish a musical language. Through sessions, we found what kind of sound and environment we were trying to create. Darwin is more culturally knowledgeable; I go by instinct. I have the fresh touch, but Darwin gets pickier about genre. He knows everything about Miami music.”

The pair's major complaint about reggaeton is how everyone song seemingly uses the same damn drum pattern.

“We love the party vibe from reggaeton, but we want to make each song at least a little different,” Figueroa says. “We want to make an alternative Latin scene, which we feel is lacking here, unlike in Central or South America.”

One of their primary musical influences is Miami's electronic music madman Otto von Schirach, who specializes in whacky bilingual lyrics with an unpredictable sonic palette. “A lot of our songs are very on-brand with his music,” Flora says. “We think we're experimental, and Otto will play something back to us, and we're like, ‘Whoa, that's really experimental.'”

Oro Fresco's single “Maconha” originated when von Schirach challenged the duo to create a new song for a gig opening up for him. Flora found inspiration in a conversation on a business trip to Ohio.

“I work in the restaurant biz and had to go to Cincinnati,” Flora explains. “People in the industry and Cincinnati are drinkers. I was more smoking, and this Brazilian guy said, ‘You like maconha?’ I'd never heard that word. It was Brazilian Portuguese for weed. I said, ‘That's got to be a song.’ So we made an upbeat, fun Brazilian carnival song.”

Figueroa came up with the idea for the track “The Forest” from his conversation on his podcast, Que Bola.

“Mario Alejandro Ariza is a journalist who wrote a book called Disposable City about how Miami will be destroyed in the coming decades if nothing's done about climate change,” he explains. “I wanted to explore it not in a sad Sarah McLachlan way, but with a Miami party vibe.”

Flora and Figueroa recently released a collection of songs remixed by other artists, including DJ DanceAlone and Allen Blickle, aptly titled Oro Fresco (Remixes).

“We always remix our own music, so we were excited to hear what other people come up with,” Figueroa says. “Everyone is a good producer on their own merit, so it was an honor and great to hear other people's interpretations of our songs.”

At the end of this month, Oro Fresco is headed to Denver for a live set with the rest of the Strange Bass crew. “It will be a fun time to experiment with a crowd that I think couldn't be more different than what you get in South Florida,” Figueroa says

Before then, the pair is hunkering down in the studio to record new songs set to be released throughout the year. The one they're most excited about couldn't be less similar to reggaeton. “It's called ‘Amazon.’ It's going to be kind of like a Sesame Street song,” Figueroa says. “My friend has a 3-year-old girl who doesn't know Spanish, so this is a Spanish song about a bunch of animals in the Amazon having a party.”