Cristian Machado, the former frontman of Ill Nino has unveiled his softer side with his debut solo album, Hollywood y Sycamore, which is out now via Coconut Bay (order here). We caught up with the artist to discuss the record, looking back to Ill Nino’s debut album, 2001’s Revolution Revolución and more.
How long have you been working on your solo material?
I would say that playing around with the acoustic stuff is something I’ve always done throughout my career, but actually writing for something to put out and writing acoustic songs for an album, for an acoustic album began maybe about three years ago. The first song I had put together was with Conrado [Pesinato], the guitar player who is on the album. We did that about three years ago. Since then, we’ve kind of just played around with the idea little by little and ultimately got here, to making a full album.
For this record, Hollywood y Sycamore, what made you step away from metal?
Just being a musician, loving music, musical curiosity. Also, after having been in a metal band for so many years and doing music one particular way, but being a fan of all styles of music I felt driven to do something a little bit different. I’ll eventually get back to doing metal again, but for right now it’s an interesting place in my life. I think that this kind of sums a lot of the things that occurred and perhaps it’s an obstacle that life challenges got in the way. This is where it led me.
Speaking of challenges, the song “Die Alone,” I thought that was very dark and something we can all relate with. Can you talk more about the track?
Sure. Die Alone is a song definitely that comes from a lot of personal pain and suffering. Not that this suffering is worse than what other people are going through. I do consider myself lucky in the sense that I have my health, and my family is healthy, and there isn’t anybody that’s in danger. But it is a song that deals with a lot of the personal obstacles that I’ve had to go through with family and with friends in the last couple of years. But it isn’t so much a song that just talks about the suffering in a place of feeling like you’re a victim. It is a song that accepts that within life suffering and life’s obstacles and challenges, there’s a lot of personal growth that can come out of that. I think it was so, for me despite feeling like you’re trapped at the moment when you’re going through certain situations, I think it helped me grow as an individual and to have a better perspective on things. To learn how to accept things that I can not control.
In life, that’s one of the hardest things to do is to accept things you can’t control, and then to learn how to control those things that you can in order to make your life more prosperous and happy. But it is a song that’s pretty intense and it comes from a lot of pain. But definitely has a light at the end of the tunnel in that even through going through everyday suffering, I think there’s a lot of lessons to be learned.
The songs Numb, and How Can I Live both appear on this record. From working on these acoustic versions to looking back when you first recorded them years ago, how has the meaning of the songs changed for you over the years?
Well, definitely coming back to those songs and having to re record them, gave me a new perspective on the lyrics. I think that when I wrote those songs back in the day they came very naturally, and there wasn’t too much strategy behind them other than being a musician. It’s the same with these songs. I didn’t put a ton of thought into how exactly am I going to do this? I didn’t put a lot of thought into the mathematics of making it happen. But definitely redoing those songs and singing those lyrics again gave me a new perspective on the stuff that I wrote back then. I guess I’m still similarly coming from the same place of wonder and questioning myself. I guess looking back on life and trying to make a bolder step the next time you have to, is probably where most of my lyrics come from. It definitely gave me a new perspective on the way that I felt back then and what those lyrics really meant.
In addition to your solo material, do you have any other projects you plan on working on that you’re willing to reveal?
Well, Ahrue [Luster] and Diego [Verduzco] who were also in Ill Nino, we’re all working on a heavy project together right now. We have a bunch of songs almost done and hopefully have an album pretty much done before the end of the year. But we’re not really in any rush. Hopefully, it’s something that can be welcomed by the music industry. Will be putting out a song or something like that here sometime this year, early next year. So I’m still doing heavy music, just taking my time with what it should be and how exactly should we approach it. With that I’m doing some productions, I’m producing the American Overdose album and things like that.
Yeah, it’s a nice break between albums. Once your solo album is out do you have any plans for an acoustic livestream event?
Well, I was supposed to go on tour this month and that’s definitely not going to happen. So we’ve moved everything to March 2021. I might be doing a livestream. I’m not 100% sure yet. Maybe it’s something that would be reasonable here as I get closer to the tour. But I’m hoping to just get back out on the road, to be honest with you. I love streaming shows and I can enjoy some of them, but I just don’t think it’s the same as live. I would really love to get on the stage and have a loud PA. Really have people in the room and really experienced the chemistry of what it is to be in the same room with people listening to music that’s so deep and intense.
Nothing beats a live show. It’s unfortunate what happened circling around the split between you and Ill Nino. I wanted to ask, is there anything that you would like to address on what happened?
No, not really. Other than thank you to the fans for being patient. I know that the fans got caught quite in a tug of war there, in which I didn’t necessarily know what was going to happen. But ultimately we came to… At least Diego, Ahrue and I came to the decision that it’s better for us to just go put our energy into doing something different instead of trying to be stuck in this mode of the past. Sometimes that can happen, you get stuck thinking too much about the past and you wind up realizing that maybe it’s going to drag you down more than anything else. So, no, I mean, other than sometimes split up and this is something that needed to occur. Especially personally for me, I needed to step away. Luckily I’m able to go on doing my own thing, and luckily they’re able to go and do their own thing, and hopefully everybody will be musically happy now.
Looking back to the good moments, next year marks the 20th anniversary of Revolution Revolución. Looking back, do you have any particular memory or favorite song from the record that you’d like to share?
One of my favorite songs from the first album was “No Murder.” I guess that one could be a favorite there. A lot of good songs on there. Those songs will always be very dear to me. I wrote most of that album, most of the music on that album. Those songs will always exist. So, they’ll always be dear to me, always very personal, and hopefully fans will be able to enjoy them forever.
There are some great memories and moments when the album was first released. Is there anything else that you’d like to say or add about your acoustic album?
It’s a very deep album. It’s a timeless album. If you pick it up I think it’ll be a treasure in your collection. Whether you own CDs or you stream music. I think it will be an album that everybody could really grow with too. It’s got a lot of good timeless qualities about it. These are songs that I think are going to stand the test of time. Nothing other than that, it’s called Hollywood Y Sycamore and it’ll be out September 25th on all platforms.