Andrés Cervilla: Part II

AndrésCervillaLights.jpg. Andrés Cervilla is a Costa Rican award-winning trombone player, seashell player, producer, and sound designer. Photo by Pablo Cambronero. Courtesy of Andrés Cervilla.

Feature image: Andrés Cervilla is a Costa Rican award-winning trombone player, seashell player, producer, and sound designer. Photo by Pablo Cambronero. Courtesy of Andrés Cervilla.

PART II: Andrés Cervilla Creates Tropical Futuristic Music

Andrés Cervilla is a Costa Rican award-winning trombone player, seashell player, producer, and sound designer. He connects with his ancestry and merges many cultures and musical traditions through his musical art of wind instruments. He creates mind-blowing tropical futuristic music that directly connects with the soul and heart by generating new emotions, sensations, and feelings.

In PART I , you learned how Andrés Cervilla found his passion for the musical art of the trombone and seashells. Now, you’ll go on a journey through Cervilla’s tropical futuristic music that merges the best of both worlds: tradition and future. His personal projects PEE-PAH! Fábrica de Sonido, UachiMán, and Los Excavators showcase the fascinating sounds of the tropics with a touch of futuristic melodies and rhythms.


Remember, Cervilla returned home to Costa Rica after two years of intense touring and live performances. His friend Antonio Baker sought him out to create music for video games, which sparked a new and innovative passion for a different branch of music: sound design. That new venture, which Cervilla unexpectedly found in himself as a musician and artist, led him to the creation of  PEE-PAH!  Fábrica de Sonido.

“PEE-PAH is the space where I’ve gathered this whole creative range of projects directed to a brand. The range of projects I’ve worked on with PEE-PAH goes from making music for theater plays to video games, cartoons, and brands. I have to create the sound logo for a brand,” Cervilla said. “Throughout this project, I’ve discovered how sound has that power to create engagement.”

He found in that engagement the possibilities that sound branding offers. He’s created the sound identities of various Costa Rican brands and projects, including Hola Lola, Chile MonoLoco, Good Food, Parque La Libertad, and Costa Rica’s official media. He’s found a world of possibilities in sound design through an abstract process.


Being a sound designer implies having the capacity to translate an image into sound or music. He first meets up with a client to learn about their needs for their brand and product’s sound identity. Cervilla seeks to understand the brand’s personality and values in that conversation.

“It’s my duty as a sound designer to take those words and make them into a song or sound. Sometimes, it’s even a sound of five seconds. I have to summarize a two-hour meeting in a five-second melody,” Cervilla said. “So, I need that capacity of abstraction. Of extracting all of that [conversation] and turning it into something totally new.”

In that abstract process, Cervilla also learned to solve any issues that might come up in the moment – especially when he was starting. That also means he must understand many other creative disciplines, not just music. He’s learned about graphic design, animation, and advertising to grasp how he can contribute from his areas of expertise in creating sounds and music.


That visual exploration allows him to choose the right sound palette for his clients’ needs. The sound choice depends on the personality Cervilla wants to portray through the music he creates. The palette can vary widely, and it’s never repeated. He can start with a heavy metal guitar or a traditional Costa Rican marimba.

“Something I’ve discovered in my creative process is that I don’t have a formula for anything. I make sure to solve each project in a different manner. A distinct approach to avoid always doing the same thing,” Cervilla said. “That’s quite challenging because when you’ve been doing this for a while, it’s easy to repeat formulas. That’s where the mission of renewing yourself as a creative comes in. It’s about learning other things and not only music.”

Honoring Latin America’s Sound

Cervilla finds in self-renovation and innovation the ability to create a sonic universe for his clients. He’s building a brand's faces, dresses, and personalities based on his clients’ musical tastes. In that exploration, he wandered through the Latin American musical references that deeply influenced him as a musician and artist.

FanfarriaDelLabriegoSencilloPabloCambronero.png. Album cover for Andrés Cervilla’s “Fanfarria Del Labriego Sencillo.” Photo by Pablo Cambronero. Courtesy of Andrés Cervilla.
Album cover for Andrés Cervilla’s “Fanfarria Del Labriego Sencillo.” Photo by Pablo Cambronero. Courtesy of Andrés Cervilla.

He’s researched different sound designers throughout the region and made contacts with people from Peru, Panama, Colombia, Mexico, and many more. The Latin American rhythms and sounds are part of his DNA. It’s a mixture of salsa, cumbia, calypso, and ska. The mixture of the music he grew up listening to, his parents’ music, and whatever sounds on the buses of Costa Rica.

“I’m from San Antonio of Desamparados, where there are masquerades and clowns. In the end, all these worlds converge in the way that I compose and make my music. There are also musical experiences that I’ve seen in the Caribbean. Traveling from San José to Limón just to see a carnival,” Cervilla said.

When listening to Cervilla’s music, you’ll notice the many musical references he has. He said you can grasp the sound of a Panamanian percussion pattern, a Colombian rhythm, a Peruvian sound, and a strong Costa Rican musical influence.

The clearest example of Cervilla’s sound design with the convergence of his vividly, marvelous Latin American influence is the sonic identity he created for Costa Rica’s International Design Festival (FID). The festival no longer exists, but during its yearly encounters in San José, Cervilla was tasked with creating the music used for the guest speakers walking on the stage for their conferences.

“I made the music for the guests. However, that music was used for that FID [edition] and the next one. For the third FID [edition] I made the same music, but in another version that was more in line with the graphic [design],” Cervilla said.

The musical experimentation with Latin American sounds for the FID’s sonic identity is one that’s present throughout Cervilla’s personal projects such as UachiMán and Los Excavators.

Creating the Mystical UachiMán

The creation of UachiMán sprouted out of Cervilla’s need to play his music in a non-electronic manner. It’s a Costa Rican cimarrona. The cimarrona is a small, traditional band made up of wind and percussion instruments that accompany the traditional masquerades. Cervilla is taking the tradition of the cimarronas to a new modern level.

“UachiMán comes from my need of wanting to create music of the future in the form from a hundred years ago. UachiMán is a retro-futuristic concept. It’s an analogous music format that could easily exist 100 years ago, but mixed with a world of science fiction, super heroes, masks, lasers, and electronic music,” Cervilla said.

UachiMán.jpg. Andrés Cervilla dressed up in his outfit and mask for UachiMán. Photo by Gregory Jiménez. Courtesy of Andrés Cervilla.
Andrés Cervilla dressed up in his outfit and mask for UachiMán. Photo by Gregory Jiménez. Courtesy of Andrés Cervilla.

It’s not a group that comes to save the tradition of cimarronas. Cervilla is separated from that and wants to transform it into something new, especially because there have never existed as many cimarronas as there are now in Costa Rica. For him, UachiMán is the evolution of a traditional music from the Central American country and taking it to new levels.


But you might be wondering why it’s named UachiMán. It’s an allusion to the Costa Rican term “guachimán,” which are the street watchers who look out for your car when you’ve parked on the street.

AndrésCervillaTrombone.jpg. Andrés Cervilla with his trombone for UachiMán. Photo by Gregory Jiménez. Courtesy of Andrés Cervilla.
Andrés Cervilla with his trombone for UachiMán. Photo by Gregory Jiménez. Courtesy of Andrés Cervilla.

“A guachimán is a mae that looks out for your care when you park it on the street. At the end, he asks for money. It’s a concept very typical of Latin America. I think it doesn’t even exist in the United States, but here and in the rest of Latin America, guachimanes exist with different names. Each country probably has its own version of a guachimán,” Cervilla said.

UachiMánAleValenciano.png. UachiMán at the National Theater in San José, Costa Rica. Photo by Ale Valenciano. Courtesy of Andrés Cervilla.
UachiMán at the National Theater in San José, Costa Rica. Photo by Ale Valenciano. Courtesy of Andrés Cervilla.

The name clearly references Costa Rican popular culture, but the concept dives deeper into Cervilla’s creative ideals and imagery. He imagined a character as a galactic guardian who is ironically isolated. He stated it’s a direct influence from Señor Loop’s mythology with a sidereal creature.

“That served as a bridge for me to create this concept of my own mythology. I wanted to create the music as if it was a hero. When I was thinking about superhero names the concept of the sidereal guachimán came to mind,” Cervilla said. “It’s the fact that it wasn’t Superman or Batman. It was UachiMán. That play on words made me laugh. It was going to be originally named UachiMán Sideral, but it ended up as UachiMán.”

Cervilla came up with a unique and interesting visual aesthetic to communicate the sidereal and galactic aspects of UachiMán. Whenever the whole group performs live or appears on a video, they wear masks. These were created in collaboration with Costa Rican artist Laura Astorga.

UachiMánJuanEspinoza.jpeg. UachiMán in their best essence with their instruments and masks. Photo by Juan Espinoza. Courtesy of Andrés Cervilla.
UachiMán in their best essence with their instruments and masks. Photo by Juan Espinoza. Courtesy of Andrés Cervilla.

Cervilla told her he was creating a cimarrona group with a galactic aspect and she suggested crafting the masks. It was a collaborative process with a lot of improvisation involved. They didn’t have an initial idea of what they’d look like. There was no clear concept. They had the materials to create: paper masks with plastic bottle pieces, paints, and nuts and bolts.

“Not only UachiMán has masks. They’re typical of many Latin American cultures and many cultures from around the world. They’re typical of human and global culture. The masks immediately submerge you into a [different] world,” Cervilla said. “It makes you connect in a different way because you’re seeing a bicho. You’re seeing a character. You’re not seeing a person. That’s part of what’s attractive about UachiMán.”

The attractive essence of UachiMán is the masks, laser display, outfits, masks, and bizarre dances. It’s the visual aspect that perfectly merges with its music. One where he translated the electronic world to the cimarrona and five-wind instrument format. Cervilla lets his imagination flow and creates whatever comes out of that superhero concept for UachiMán.

UachiMánJuanEspinoza2.jpeg. UachiMán in their best essence with their instruments and masks. Photo by Juan Espinoza. Courtesy of Andrés Cervilla.
UachiMán in their best essence with their instruments and masks. Photo by Juan Espinoza. Courtesy of Andrés Cervilla.

He combines vivid, brilliant, and happy Latin American rhythms and sounds that make him dance. He constantly thinks about the bounce and music that makes him happy. He excavates and digs deep into the music and vibe he wants to communicate with his tropical futurism.

“I’ve denominated everything that encompasses the conception of my music in the past year as tropical futurism. I think it’s become my stamp in music. I have this capacity of mixing ancestral sounds with recording a sound bank with ocarinas that have more than 2,000 years of antiquity, and play seashells and the trombone,” Cervilla said. “I mix all of this with futuristic or modern techniques to create music and I operate a hundred percent in the world of electronic music.”

Excavating Deeply to Find Los Excavators

Cervilla’s deep excavation into his topical futurism landed a long-term collaboration with Eli Brueggemann. Brueggemann is a U.S. multi-keyboardist, producer, composer, and Emmy award-winning musical director. He’s also the Musical Director, Composer, and Music Producer for NBC’s Saturday Night Live television show. They created together their project Los Excavators.

LosExcavators3.jpeg. Andrés Cervilla and Eli Brueggemann as Los Excavators. Courtesy of Andrés Cervilla.
Andrés Cervilla and Eli Brueggemann as Los Excavators. Courtesy of Andrés Cervilla.

Before diving into Los Excavators, you must learn how Cervilla and Brueggemann met. Remember, Cervilla learned how to play the seashells with U.S. trombonist and seashell player Steve Turre. Cervilla visited him various times in New York, and during one of those visits, Turre took him to the Saturday Night Live set.

“Steve Turre is a musician with a great trajectory. He’s played with Ray Charles and Dizzie Gillespie. He’s played with some of the world’s most important jazz players, and he’s been playing with Saturday Night Live since 1984,” Cervilla said. “On a Saturday, he told me: we’re going to watch Saturday Night Live. We went to watch Saturday Night Live in the middle of the set.”

AndrésCervillaSeashell.JPG. Andrés Cervilla playing the seashell taught by Steve Turre. Photo by Pablo Cambronero. Courtesy of Andrés Cervilla.
Andrés Cervilla playing the seashell taught by Steve Turre. Photo by Pablo Cambronero. Courtesy of Andrés Cervilla.

That day, Cervilla was in the place where everyone ran around and where the actors were located on set. He sat on a chair to watch everything. Then, Turre told him he wanted him to meet someone. That someone was Brueggemann.

“Eli told me: ¿qué mae? ¿Todo bien? He said it in Spanish. I had a short circuit in my mind. It turns out that Eli’s wife is tica [Costa Rican] and her family is from San Joaquín de Flores,” Cervilla said, laughing. “So, Eli is gringo, but more tico than gallopinto. So, he has that gigantic connection with Costa Rica.”

LosExcavators2.jpeg
The shovels that visually portray Los Excavators in their musical excavation. Courtesy of Andrés Cervilla.
LosExcavators.jpeg
The shovels that visually portray Los Excavators in their musical excavation. Courtesy of Andrés Cervilla.

After that unique meeting in New York, Cervilla and Brueggemann kept the connection and constantly collaborated musically ever since. Everything started with them exchanging beats and musical ideas. Throughout time, they noticed that they’d been creating music together for a while. They had plenty of musical sketches for songs and started giving them a life of their own by producing them and looking for collaborators to join the project.


Throughout that process, they noticed they had an entire album ready, which was released this year in March. Their album “Los Excavators & El Combo Brujo” takes you on a joint journey of Latin American rhythms combined with unique U.S. sounds. It’s a collaborative process where both exchange their ideas and add in their own touch reminiscent of their cultural backgrounds.

“We first think of a concept and sample music together. The starting point is to look for vinyls together. Then, we start sampling vinyls that draw our attention and from there, we start exchanging ideas,” Cervilla said.

The exchange process is the most interesting part of Los Excavators because of how they manage to merge cultures.

“An idea can be super gringa when he shares it and I return it to him. A house-base sounds, but with some salsero trombones. Or I send him a base that can be sort of a cumbión. He adds some completely modern funk synthesizers and a bit of keyboard textures,” Cervilla said. “That’s how we combine the ideas. I think it has a lot to do with the detachment with which we exchange things. We trust each other a lot and we’re open with whatever shape any initial idea might take.”

LosExcavators4.jpeg. Eli Brueggemann and Andrés Cervilla performing live together as Los Excavators. Courtesy of Andrés Cervilla.
Eli Brueggemann and Andrés Cervilla performing live together as Los Excavators. Courtesy of Andrés Cervilla.

In the end, Los Excavators’ music is anything that’s completely danceable for the audience. It’s electronic music that moves in a completely organic plane. They’re making music on a computer but not allowing it to take the reins of the music. The computer is the instrument that brings the music to life. Their few concerts involve bringing musicians together to perform, but they’ll change the format in August. Only Cervilla and Brueggemann will be performing live in Costa Rica in a DJ format.


Los Excavators is one of Cervilla’s many facets into crafting his tropical futurism by creating a vivid Latin American identity and culture through his trombone, seashells, production, and sound design. It’s part of a musical art that transcends the physical and connects authentically on a deeper level with the audience. It’s a tropical futurism that takes Latin American rhythms and sounds to another dimension and level.

“I’m very proud – no matter how small or big – to create something that’s genuinely mine and being able to generate a bond that comes one hundred percent from my heart. Music helps people feel good and unifies them,” Cervilla said. “Whenever I achieve that connection with the audience through my music, it’s super special. It’s what I’ve been unconsciously projecting since I was a child. Connecting with the audience with something that’s genuinely mine is the biggest thing I have right now in my artistic discipline.”

To learn more about Andrés Cervilla, follow him on Instagram at @andres_cervilla,  @uachi_man,  @los-excavators, and  @peepahfabricadesonido, on Spotify at Andrés Cervilla, or visit his website.

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