NL·First Listen

Lo Siento is feeling the creative vibe in St. John's

The road that led to the formation of Spanish language punk band Lo Siento went from Buenos Aires to Winnipeg before winding up in St. John's.

Have a First Listen to Brujas by Lo Siento

Lo Siento is, from left, Pepa Chan, Allison Graves and Andrea McGuire. Not pictured: Jake Nicoll. The cat does not play in the band, but is a fan. (Courtesy Lo Siento)

The road that led Pepa Chan to form the Spanish language punk band Lo Siento in St. John's went through Winnipeg.

"It was like a big adventure, and I wound up in Newfoundland," said Chan.  

Nearly a decade ago, Chan, a visual artist from Buenos Aires, moved to Vancouver. She decided to see the rest of Canada by hitchhiking. Near Winnipeg, she got a ride in a large green van with Newfoundland and Labrador licence plates.

Pepa Chan

That van was carrying members of the Idlers, a St. John's reggae-ska band.

"All the ride we were camping together," said Chan.

"And they were like, 'You have to come to Newfoundland.'"

That was nearly nine years ago, and Chan has been living and working in St. John's ever since.

Chan formed Lo Siento with several of her friends from the close-knit downtown arts scene: Allison Graves on drums, Andrea McGuire on bass and backing vocals, and Jake Nicoll on keyboards and backing vocals.  

'I feel it'

The band's name comes from a Spanish phrase that has several meanings, including "I'm sorry," but Lo Siento's sound is unapologetic.

"If you translate it literally it means 'I feel it,'" said Chan.

"I kind of like that, because a lot of the lyrics in the songs are very emotional."

Listen to Pepa Chan and Allison Graves talk about the music of Lo Siento: 

Their second album is called Brujas, which translates as "witches." The music is high energy and punk-influenced, and the Spanish lyrics are melancholy.

"There's a lot of sad things, difficult and complex things going on, but also life goes on," said Chan.

"And there's also a lot of cheer and happiness, I hope."

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Heather Barrett is the host and producer of Weekend AM on CBC Radio One in Newfoundland and Labrador.