Local band Kurupi reflect on quarantine with their bold new EP

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Courtesy Kurupi

Kurupi’s introspective, DIY energy makes for a wonderfully catchy reflection on loneliness and life during COVID-19.

Tucker Lang, Staff Writer

Kurupi’s “Con Mi Gente: Shelter In Place Demos” is a poignant yet intimate look at the effect COVID-19 has had on our lives and a must-listen for any Santa Rosa Junior College student who loves music and feels lonely and dejected. That may just be all of us. 

Josh Sanchez, the main brain behind the genre-bending, locally based music project Kurupi, wrote a brilliant response to COVID-19 as it pertains to young artists and college students. 

The Santa Rosa music collective Kurupi, named after a South American mythological figure, has been around for a few years playing shows at The Phoenix Theater in Petaluma, backyards and other miscellaneous venues in Santa Rosa since they formed in high school. 

Friends and early fans of their music look to Sanchez, Eduardo Suarez, Cole Brady and Cam Urquart for their exhilarating blend of rock, hip hop, jazz and post-punk.

After releasing a dark and penetratingly mournful meditation on loss with the album “Routine Boutique” in 2018, the band underwent ensemble changes, adding more brass instruments with member Joseph Haro and working with local hip hop artists like Marais, Kainoa, and FourHEAD. 

This ragtag group of musicians and creators have made new fans and impressed audiences with their talent and energy all throughout high school and now as SRJC students. 

Several live shows in the past year proved that Kurupi were a force to be reckoned with in the local music scene. When COVID-19 hit and put all of Santa Rosa in lockdown, things got hard for Sanchez and crew. No practices, no shows and no friends.

“Con Mi Gente: Shelter In Place Demos” is a collection of four tracks that introspectively and lovingly reflect on the pains of being lonely during quarantine. 

“I couldn’t really make music outside of my own room,” said Sanchez, 20, who is in the digital audio program at SRJC and hopes to gain knowledge to propel his big dreams. “The whole EP was made in a week, except for the mixing and mastering.” 

You can really feel that Sanchez recorded it all himself, and it makes for his most personal release yet. The DIY aesthetic of these tracks are almost too close for comfort at times, with cutting commentary on friendship and what happens to a college kid after your support system is taken from you. 

The first track “90 Degrees” features open guitar chords fuzzed out on top of a skeletal hip hop beat where Sanchez raps in twisted-pitched vocals. He is painting an anxious but numb picture of lying on a bed trying to find something to do during these idle times. It beautifully sets the mood for the EP. 

The next track “Con Mi Gente” is a fantastic combination of indie rock, surf rock, post punk and hip hop. The live drums have so much presence in the mix and the jumpy guitar leads add an odd positivity to the song. A quick mood switch is made with this track because “Con Mi Gente” is truly just a love letter to the feeling of friendship and a group of people you can hang out with everyday. 

The standout lyric of the track sees Sanchez declaring, “Man, I really wanna hang with the homies with a 40 in my hand, if you really wanna know me just ask. Feeling cooped, feeling lonely. What’s new? Can you show me?” It is easily one of the catchiest songs on the EP and a lovely ode to a feeling so many college kids are feeling right now. 

The next song, “25 Tracks,” features more bustling post-punk drums and sour guitar flourishes that are washed out, reversed and spacey. Sanchez’s lyrics about being in an artistic rut during the lockdown somehow feel equally as poetic and creative as the previous tracks. 

The closing track, “NoPosGuouw,” the most hip-hop influenced song on the EP, features close friends and collaborators Kainoa and FourHEAD, who lay down great verses.  Sanchez also addresses growing up as an Indigenous kid and wanting to be the best he can be. 

These four tracks are not only very timely and emotionally raw, but musically idiosyncratic and inspired. There are not many music acts in the mainstream or underground that sound quite like Kurupi does. 

The way Sanchez combines rock, rap and a host of other genres is genuinely wonderful. 

While it may lack the typical live-band feel that their shows and previous efforts share, “Con Mi Gente: Shelter In Place Demos” feels like an involuntary solo project serving as a snapshot in time for the creatively and emotionally bankrupt Generation Z. It happens to be wonderfully enjoyable as well.