Grupo Frontera Talk Venturing Into R&B and Country on New Album ‘Jugando A Que No Pasa Nada’ and Being Inspired by Shakira

Grupo Frontera may be known for breathing new life into the danceable, decades-old genre of Mexican cumbia and Tejano music with their debut “El Comienzo,” but the six-man band is showing just how expansive their range is with their latest, “Jugando A Que No Pasa Nada.”

“We’ve had a lot of success as a cumbia group, but we are more than that,” vocalist Adelaido “Payo” Solís tells Variety. “We’re a band that can play different styles, and all of us have different music tastes. Some of us like rap, R&B, country… and we felt now, with putting out a second album, was the perfect time to experiment, and create something for everyone to enjoy.”

Grupo Frontera, with members Julian Peña Jr., Alberto Acosta, Carlos Zamora, Carlos Guerrero and Juan Javier Cantu, is looking to refine their identity as a multi-faceted act after conquering love from Latin America with chart-topping collaborations that have made them the go-to artists for streaming juggernauts like Bad Bunny and Shakira, both of whom recruited the band to make their first forays in cumbia, spurring hits like “Un x100to” and “(Entre Paréntesis),” respectively.

Now, the young band — only three years after their formation — is flexing its muscles on the 12-song “Jugando A Que No Pasa Nada.” Grupo Frontera, with assistance from Grammy-winning producer and songwriter Edgar Barrera, take leaps into R&B, pop and country (Payo cites George Strait and Morgan Wallen as influences) in a solid project that packs a punch on songs like opener “F*ckin Amor” — where accordions and a tight percussion lay down the foundation for Payo’s booming voice to come in swinging about a soured relationship. “Me Hizo Un Favor” is one of the group’s most interesting songs on the record, as it completely deviates from the sonic tropes of the band’s debut to adapt a dreamy pop and R&B soundscape.

“‘Me Hizo Un Favor’ was the song that made us want to try out a bunch of different styles on this album because we tried recording a cumbia version, and we ended up recording it in an R&B, softer style and because of that song, we ended up having a whole conversation with [Barrera],” recalls Payo.

From that conversation, and with a nudge from Barrera, the group set out to record music the music they felt sounded best. This isn’t to say Grupo Frontera is abandoning their Tejano hats, or their ranchera aesthetics. “This is the music we love, the music we grew up listening and in a way, it’s almost like a reminder for our audience that, as Mexicans — even if you don’t speak any Spanish but you grew up listening to music in Spanish, English, whatever — we can exist in all of these [facets] of music and expressions.”

The band also found quite a bit of inspiration after meeting with Shakira, and recording music for her “Las Mujeres Ya No Lloran” album. “That album had a ton of different styles, and we definitely saw that and felt empowered to experiment in a similar sense,” said Payo. “Shakira is such a well-known artist and I feel like she knew that she could do whatever style she wants and make it sound great. We’re nowhere near Shakira status but that sense of artistic freedom is what led us to create this album we love so much. We’re doing what we want, and that is a huge gift.”

Grupo Frontera is cognizant of their expedited rise to fame, and maybe that’s why they sound so confident when they switch from the swagger of corrido tumbado “Ibiza” to the techno-imbued “Desquite” featuring the sweet vocals of Argentine singer-songwriter Nicki Nicole.

Beyond genre, Grupo Frontera ultimately hopes to provide more options for young Latin or Hispanic listeners to hear their native tongue over a variety of styles. “We’ve hit a lot of bases with this album,” says Payo. “I think, if it’s something we feel entirely represented by, our listeners will also be able to find themselves, find something they like in this record.”

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