MARINERO – San Francisco/Guadalajara.
Marinero is the handle of San Francisco native, Jess Sylvester, a singer-songwriter who fuses his West Coast sensibilities with sounds of Latin America to create a spellbinding world of beauty and heartbreak. Despite playing in punk bands throughout his youth, he leans more toward Caetano Veloso than Black Flag. A 2010 visit to Mexico forever changed his songwriting trajectory. During a three-month trip to Guadalajara his tour guide, Carlos Pesina, transitioned to being his friend & bandmate. They formed a sample based group, Francisco Y Madero, continuing Jess’s cholo-fi signature style of dreary grooves laced with latin and doo wop. His more recent solo work as Marinero, however, magnifies his talent as a performer and songwriter.
His upcoming effort, Trópico de Cáncer— out in 2019 via Needle to the Groove– is inspired by flowing heartache south of the border. Following a breakup, Sylvester booked a trip to Guadalajara a month in advance, which fueled an obsessive stretch of writing. Once there, he collaborated with psych rock troupe, Dorotheo (close friends and former collaborators) to bring his songwriting vision to life. Those sessions, recorded in May and June of 2018, are the first Marinero songs on record with a live band.
When asked about his previous works, says Jesse: “With Chican@, it was me telling a narrative about my family’s history in the Bay Area, and some of the changes happening there. High Tone was still about me, but it was about my youth, me looking at things growing up,” he says. “Trópico de Cáncer was my first honest cry for what was going on with me. When I went out there, I knew exactly what I wanted. I think the group really made it flow so quickly. They were ego-less about it and were able to help me do my thing.” The album taps into Sylvester’s Chicano roots with inspiration from groups like Los Freddys and Malo, respectively and also draws from Brazil’s sonically textured Tropicália movement. He calls Trópico “a West Coaster’s interpretation” of that classic ‘60s sound.
In addition to his solo work as Marinero, Sylvester is still currently involved with Francisco Y Madero and Crisis Man, a project that hearkens back to his punk and hardcore roots. Francisco Y Madero’s sampling inspired his Cholo-Fi mixtape series, which is an under-rated collection of chopped and screwed oldies
While he notes that the project wasn’t easy to record, he now views Trópico de Cáncer as a natural creative step forward. “I feel like I’ve healed as a result of going through that whole process and making the record,” he shares. “It feels like it was all meant to be in a way.”