West Texas Talk:
Helado Negro On His Musical Influences, the Fragility of the Human Voice, and Composing for S-Town

Roberto Carlos Lange is a New York-based musician. Lange performs under the project Helado Negro. “It’s a name for something to give me the liberty to not think of my own name,” Lange says of the project. “It’s always been important for me to have a way to just start from nothing, there’s no history. I can build a history with that name.”

Helado Negro recently played the Marfa Myths music festival, where we caught up with him. In this interview he tells us about how growing up in Florida shaped the sound of Helado Negro and how his voice is the ‘strangest’ instrument he uses.

Growing up in Florida in the ’80s, Roberto Carlos Lange heard a steady stream of Miami Bass and sample-based electronic music on the radio.

Lange was consumed with figuring out the how behind behind the beats, the chopped up samples and pitched vocals.”

“When you figure it out it’s like this world just starts exploding in your brain. You’re like ‘I know how to do this, this is so cool.'”

Lange was also surrounded by a strong Latin American community. His Ecuadorian roots and his “immediate environment,” he says also had a direct influence on the sound he would eventually create as Helado Negro.

Lange has since moved from Florida, but you can still hear the influence of his childhood in the records he puts out, like his most recent work Island Universe Story Four.

On the album’s opening track “Come Be Me”, Lange’s voice slowly dances over a bubbling synth beat. That voice, Lange says, is the strangest instrument he can use. “It’s so fragile every day. Your voice, you can be so confident with it and you can also be so terrified of it, like that it can fail you.”  

In the rest of this interview, Helado Negro discusses his work on the podcast S-Town, the process he goes through when composing, and the meaning behind ‘private energy.’

About Carlos Morales

Carlos Morales is Marfa Public Radio's News Director, Border and Immigration Reporter, and Morning Edition Host.
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West Texas Talk is broadcast Thursdays at 6:00 PM and Fridays at 9:00 PM.
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