BUSCABULLA DE PUERTO RICO CON AMOR
You might know them from their recent collab in Bad Bunny’s latest album, but this duo has been creating so much more over the past decade. Even though they met in Brooklyn, NY, these Puerto Rican musicians created their unique sound combining their love for music and their country. With every word, every musical note, and every sound, Buscabulla declares their love for their Island, their culture, and their roots. For Raquel, her love for music first started “to avoid getting depressed”. On a Thanksgiving Day in Brooklyn, Raquel was playing with different rhythms and voices as she played and sang “Mal Romance”, a version of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance”, when Luisfre walked in. “Yes! In Spanish, because it’s better” -Luisfre. Sitting next to her, he suggested a chord that was just what the song was missing, the rest was history.
After getting involved romantically, they continued to create music together and even got to start a family. Since having their kid, they started to romanticize even more their move back to Puerto Rico. Just when they were about to finally move back home, hurricane María hit the Island. During this devastating time, corruption was even more unmasked and exposed in the nation and basic needs were scarce. On top of that, the house they were planning on buying was no longer available, It was a tough moment to move back. We spoke to the buzzing duo about their love for Puerto Rico, their dynamic, and what comes next!
Knowing how things are in Puerto Rico, why move back?
Raquel: Well, it was something we had talked about for a long time. You go to New York looking for your dream, but there comes a time when life loses a bit of meaning.
Am I going to stay writing in New York all my life? Going back was something we discussed even before we had our daughter. The idea would be to return, to be able to have a studio, to be able to make music there…
With everything that is happening in Puerto Rico, corruption, constant blackouts… Do you regret moving back?
Raquel: Never, the other way around. We were in New York recently, and believe me there are many things about New York that we love. Luisfre and I walked through Manhattan, the characters, the energy and we remembered why we liked New York so much. But in the end I think of Christmas in New York, [the hassle on] the subway with our girl… I think that in Puerto Rico we have a better understanding, and it’s our home. You learn to love her with all the issues… and always the one who leaves, longs to return.
What are your favorite hang out spots in Puerto Rico?
Luisfre: [The beach], it’s very special. To start the day and see the sunset. We love to be with our friends from Aguadilla, we have a group of friends and hang out at their finca… [connect] with nature.
Raquel: That’s what’s so cabrón [great] about Puerto Rico, it ‘s paradise
How has coming back changed your artistic process?
Luisfre: I could say that from New York there was a somewhat nostalgic lens on Puerto Rico and I think that when we moved, we ran into the reality of living here. It’s complex, it’s not perfect, it has a dark side. It’s a realistic element in a tropical and magical world that we had projected.
Raquel: I can’t say suffering, but it gives an edge to our music. New York is not an easy place to live and surviving also gives an edge to the music. There was a time when many artists from New York moved to LA and they say that the music suffered, because in LA everything is so beautiful, easy and sunny and we had that same fear with Puerto Rico. But Puerto Rico is pretty screwed up too, there’s a lot of edge.
How was the process behind your collab with Bad Bunny in the song “Andrea”?
Raquel: Super fast, two and a half weeks before the album [release].
Luisfre: El conejo calls us on FaceTime and tells Raquel “I have this song…[create] something, write your part”. He had 8 blank bars in the middle of the song, [he said] “I have some ideas, but [i want you to create] something”.
Raquel: ¡Es un cabrón!, [he said] “I have an idea, but I’m not going to tell you”, but it was to motivate us that he told us to do whatever we wanted. I didn’t need guidance, I wrote my song but I wanted to know his ideas. And if it’s with Bad Bunny, I’m going to give it my all here. He was open, which was good, but very terrifying. What the hell am I going to create here for Bad Bunny?
In many songs you have Puerto Rican cultural elements, do they arise organically or is it consciously?
Raquel: It’s honest, I think that two influential people were MIMA and Rita Indiana and they both sang how people talk on the street. Reggaeton singers have always done it, but seeing this in women impacted me in a peculiar way. And they come with a very sharp sensitivity… Why am I going to make music in New York in English? That’s what everyone does. I thought that my culture, inherited by my family, friends and experiences, would make me stand out and that [motivates me]. It adds color, it’s particular. I could be singing quite correctly like Ednita [Nazario], but I find that street language is more exciting …
Were there any differences between the creative and aesthetic process in the first EP and your latest album “Regresa”?
Luisfre: The process was quite similar, Raquel and I in the room trying to get the song out of the computer and it has always been very homemade, a bedroom production.
I think the difference was the context of doing it from the outside [of Puerto Rico] vs from the inside, assimilating that reality.
Raquel: The first EP was a discovery, I started making music to not get depressed. I started one day in my room with Serato and GarageBand. That first EP was like when you discover something you like to do and you do it well. The second was exploring the family’s longing for Puerto Rico…“Regresa” changes everything because we are inspired by something cultural… the things you see when you go to the institute of culture, but modernized.
How important was your daughter in that artistic process?
Raquel: Well, Charlie appears on all the covers of our albums, [but] hidden. The first album is my face, but behind it is Luisfre and our girl. In the second and third, [she] also appears.
Luisfre: Things change, she is a force of nature, she inspires us, she writes better songs, she is a full diva. What she does is inspire us, I play something simple with three chords and she sings over it and makes up stories, it’s beautiful.
You have had collabs with many artists such as Bad Bunny, Helado Negro… What would be another one that you would love to do? Dead or alive.
Raquel: Juan Luis Guerra
Luisfre: Luis Miguel
You both have beautiful hair, any beauty regimens?
Raquel: Vogue asked us this, and I’m going to be very honest, we use Trader Joe’s shampoo, Trader Joe’s conditioner.
Luisfre: I have experienced differences [with my hair in Puerto Rico]. Trujillo Alto gives it some great curls, Ponce super [straight] hair and Aguadilla, in between. My scissors, I cut my hair with Laura Om, but most of the time it’s me.
Raquel: I’m a hippie, I should start taking care of myself more, if people want to start giving me products. I’m really picky with my diet. I don’t eat processed things, I try to avoid bread, I stopped eating dairy. [I eat] fruits in the morning. I always need a salad.
How do you describe your fashion style?
Raquel: Luisfre is what he is… There is always something very street like sneakers or boots and urban things. Also a sophisticated and romantic side, we like that contrast.
Who would you say are your fashion icons?
Luisfre: Luis Miguel, George Harrison, Michael Jackson.
Raquel: Cher, Iris Chacón, Nydia Caro.
Who were your favorite bands or artists at 15 years old, 25 and now?
R: At 15 I loved Robi Rosa when “Vagabundo”, at 25 Cerati and now Kim Petras.
L: Oasis, Charlie Garcia and now Frank Ocean or Kanye West.
Now let’s have a little fun: Fuck, Marry, Kill these same artists you just mentioned.
Raquel: Fuck Cerati obviously, marry Robi, kill Kim Petras. Sorry, horrible.
Luisfre: 13 year old me would fuck Oasis, marry Kanye, he’s single, good looking and a family man. And then kill Charlie Garcia, since I’d be practically pushing him over the edge.
What’s next for Buscabulla?
Luisfre: Well, ideally we want to plan a 2 month vacation, but it doesn’t seem to be the case. We’re probably gonna work the hardest, so we gotta put out new music, because we have a new song we’ve been working on and that’s what we’re focusing on. We also have a new album to finish and deliver. We were also making a documentary of the entire transition of moving from New York to Puerto Rico and for a long time the documentary didn’t have an ending since the album came out in the pandemic which is kind of a bummer. But we just did the Tito Puente show and well, we filmed it so we’ll do a mini concert film. That’s the next thing to come.
Photography and creative direction: Jacob DeKat
Hair and Make up: Nanette Solivan
Interview: Maui Guzman Bou