A LOCAL BAND UNLIKE ANY OTHER IN EL PASO

FELINE FOX, a new(ish) El Paso band has really raised their profile in the past year.  They're a band whose electric blues, fresh jazz-like beats, and pounding vocals reverberate immediately in the soul. Since I've heard them I can't stop listening to their racial justice anthem "We Will Survive," the first track on the video below.

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In the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, creative and artistic frustration led band founders, guitarist Abraham Marinelarena and percussionist Christopher Serrano, to reach out to singer, friend, and stand-up comedian Anthony Austin Brown to switch things up, and instead of being an instrumental jazz band like they had been, they would use Anthony's powerful voice and his ability to rap in order to infuse their blues-rock and jazz style with an R&B/hip-hop sound.

Photo Nico

The band isn't staying still either. They continue to play regularly across the city, like at The Cool Canyon Night Series this summer. They recently expanded their membership with bassist Oliver Louissaint. They're in the middle of professionally recording their first full-length album. AND you can ACTUALLY see them performing live, along with ME, Tuesday, November 23 at the El Paso Comic Strip! Doors at 6 pm and the show starts at 7 pm.

Learn more about the band from my interview BELOW:

(Author's Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.)


Nico Adjemian
So, why 'Feline Fox?;

Abraham Marinelarena
Chris [Serrano] and I wanted to come up with a pretty cool trendy little name. And we started off with a Wu-Tang Name Generator.

Nico Adjemian
Like any great artist.

Abraham Marinelarena
Or Childish Gambino, hello! That's where he got his from, a Wu-Tang name generator. I just did the same thing.

Christopher Serrano
We had an idea for like animals, right? We were floating stuff with bears. Yeah. What was the other: wolves?

Photo by Nico of ABRAHAM MARILUENA

Abraham Marinelarena
Yeah, I wanted to do something with a wolf. Because there's this band I like called Reignwolf. And it's the super heavy blues kind of vibe we're going for anyway. So, I wanted to do that. But then, I don't know. [Feline Fox] just kind of rolled off the tongue. It took me a while to get used to, I'll be really honest! It took me about a month to be like, ok I get it. Because [feline] technically that's for cats!

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Nico Adjemian
Also, I don't think "masculine wolf" would have sounded as good.

Abraham Marinelarena
That is definitely like [some] wrestler's name.

Anthony Austin Brown
Jobbers.

Nico Adjemian
You guys are a pretty young band. Right?

Abraham Marinelarena
I would say thanks, man. Yeah, we are like a two-year-old [baby]. You know, we're in our tantrum stage, the 'terrible twos' as parents say, or tantrum twos. [Originally] I went to Austin, TX to go celebrate my birthday and hang out with my sister. And around the time my old band 'Mountain Vibes' was breaking up. And I wasn't feeling very creative. So I almost gave up music altogether. I was actually gonna say like, you know what, I'm just gonna go get a degree in English like I [originally] wanted. And I'm just going to do that. But then my sister was the one who convinced me to take a step back and understand, like "you play guitar for a reason." "Obviously, it means so much to you. That's something; just don't give up. Try something else and get out of your own way," basically. And then as soon as I came back, I hit up Chris [Serrano].

Photo by Nico of CHRIS SERRANO

Christopher Serrano
[At this point] we'd already been playing maybe three years together. So it's crazy [because}, that's how [my old band] 'The Golding Groove' got started. Fucking Daniel went to Austin came back and was like, "Yo, let's start a band." So this dude [Abraham Mariluana] comes back from Austin, like, I'm doing this. I was down to do cover gigs make some money.

Abraham Marinelarena
Yeah, just that whole thing. And I remember I had gigs already in a month, I think we had four. And they were all paid gigs, which was cool. So he was like, okay, let's get serious. And then I don't know, just writing with [Chris Serrano] was just so easy.

Nico Adjemian
Because at this point in your history you guys were [jazz] instrumentalists.

Abraham Marinelarena
Yeah, I would say. Yeah, because in [my old band], 'Mountain Vibes' I had vocal parts. But no, [with Chris] I was just the lead guitar player. That was it.

Nico Adjemian
And there is work for instrumentalists, right?

Christopher Serrano
Oh yeah. You can do a lot of like, background gigs. Cover gigs. I was just kind of slutting myself around and trying to play with anyone and everyone. That's how I kind of linked up with these guys, to go to the open mics, and just have a plan of attack and collaborate with different people, it grew into this.

Nico Adjemian
How did all three of you come together? How did Anthony Anthony Austin Brown get roped into the band?

Christopher Serrano
We first played a Childish Gambino [cover], I think was the first one we did.

Abraham Marinelarena
That was a long time ago! That was at the Black Orchid [bar]. Yeah, I remember. And everyone freaked out because they're like, "oh, whoa," "this is so new and everything" and we did a very nice acoustic, sort of chill version of it.

Photo by Nico of ANTHONY AUSTIN BROWN

Anthony Austin Brown
Yeah, then it was one of those things where these two knew I did music because not everybody knew I could sing. These two, I knew from [comedy & music] open mics, and just coming together and collaborating we three would [go up on stage and] do something.

Christopher Serrano
I mean when someone's impersonation sounds better than the musical acts before him, it's like you can [definitely] fill the spot.

Nico Adjemian
Anthony had better impersonations of the singers you were covering?

Christopher Serrano
Yeah. Yeah. Like the Childish Gambino thing just happened. We never rehearsed it, because it's just sounded good [from the start.]

Abraham Marinelarena
It was cool. Like, I learned the riff and then the chord progressions behind it, then just went for it.

Nico Adjemian
I think you guys have a very interesting sound. I would call it blues rock with a hip hop infusion or twist. How would you guys describe your sound?

Abraham Marinelarena
Along the same lines of that yeah, it started off trying to be Black Keys, a little bit of White Stripes, Gary Clark, Jr. vibes. And then it transformed it to like a hip hop, R&B type of vibe.

Christopher Serrano
I mean, even before Anthony was in it, our first song 'The Walk' was an [jazzy] instrumental song. And then [Anthony] had his first verse on there. So it was already kind of destined to be going towards that. Yeah.

Nico Adjemian
I feel like you guys have a very mainstream sound now. But on the guitar riffs, you sound just like blues-rock. Are you going to keep that kind of style in your songs?

Abraham Marinelarena
For as long as I possibly can until it's time to change for sure. You know, that's always good for a musician to grow, never to stay stagnant. Yeah, that's the problem.

Christopher Serrano
It's been evolving, [Abraham] is such a good loop musician. Like, he can play multiple parts under himself. So I just follow that vibe. And I think because I get to play a little bit more hip-hop-infused rock with Anthony it just kind of is naturally evolving.

Nico Adjemian
As a percussionist? I mean, I would say that's essential for a hip-hop sound, right?

Christopher Serrano
Yeah, I mean, the crazy thing is that Abe is a blues-rock player, but because he has to be his own rhythm section and lead we're able to be more diverse. So [Anthony Austin Brown] jumping on, it wasn't really trying to fit him in [as much as] it was just about becoming more of a full sound.

Nico Adjemian
How've you guys felt about starting a band in a medium market city?

Abraham Marinelarena
It's, it's hard. I will say, from doing it with my last band. We hit the indie circuit pretty hard. And the indie circuit is Love Buzz, Lowbrow Palace, Neon Rose, I think it used to be called Boomtown for a while, and yeah Black Orchid. So you get to meet a lot of people, and a lot of people want to join, getting together with projects, it's just hard to find people that are going to be committed to it. You know, because everyone has something going on in the city. You're either working or you're trying to juggle family or something. Anything in life generally. Starting a band in a medium market can be just stagnant.

Nico Adjemian
Would you say the music scene is a medium market or small market, actually?

Abraham Marinelarena
I think it's small.

Christopher Serrano
But to really branch out and grow you do have to leave. Like I think that's why this happened naturally like [Anthon Austin Brown] is a comedian in his own right. [Me and Abe] are both trying to be musicians full time. So like all of it coming together, we just see that it needs to have a higher standard

Nico Adjemian
What's the writing process like for you guys, right now? How do you guys put your songs together, and how has adding Anthony changed it up?

Abraham Marinelarena
Okay, so originally, it started off with me just coming up with cool little guitar riffs. And then having Chris jump in on the drums to kind of give me some sort of foundation. And having Anthony now, officially, kind of gives the lead a better overall structure, you know, because I'm going to base my chords and my melodies off of his voice, and where he's going to go with it.
And it's also sticking to our genre too. Right now we're working on this new song we were writing a couple of days ago, I think, yeah. And then it's, it's a slow blues [song] too. But there's got a lot of soul happening with it. And then there's also these parts where it can either grow into a heavy progression or something a little bit low-key, we still don't know yet. But I would say overall, the way the writing process is "now" is adding new members like [bass player] Oli [Louis-Saint], it allows me as a guitar player to venture off into creating solos or riffs, not just focusing so much on me playing bass all the time. You know, because that's the thing. With most of our songs right now it goes "back to the home." And I think most musicians know what I mean by that, is that it goes back to the one and the one count following back into the main dominant chord that's happening, you know, the main thing that's going on, and then you venture off, and then come back. Right now, adding [Anthony and Oli] together allows me and Chris, to not so much stay in the box, but we can kind of step out. And if we have to go back, we will, but we can step out now.

Nico Adjemian
Oh, interesting [I kinda have no idea what Abraham is talking about, but it really is interesting.]

Christopher Serrano
To expand our storytelling to be able to go back and forth with lyrics. We're just kind of trying to find what fits.  I feel like the story can really have a [great] premise and then grow into a "musical."

Abraham Marinelarena
[Anthony Austin Brown] he's just so good at writing lyrics, man, it's crazy. I'll just throw him the ball. And he just grabs [it] and he's like, boom. He will just come up with these sick Shakespearean type of verses. And I'm like, Oh, my God, that's so cool!

Nico Adjemian
Let's talk about Oli. So who's your new member?

Abraham Marinelarena
Okay, Oli introduce yourself.

Photo by Nico of OLI LOUIS-SAINT

Oliver Louissaint
Yeah. I'm Oli. I am a bassist. And I was just recently brought on to 'Feline Fox.' I think about a month or two months ago. But I've known these guys for like six months now.

Nico Adjemian
How long have you been playing bass?

Oliver Louissaint
Like eight years. Been doing music my whole life, been involved in music my whole life.

Nico Adjemian
How do you like being part of the band?

Oliver Louissaint
That's me, that's my favorite genre. When I first saw [Aberaham], first hung out with him, we start talking about blues-rock. And then when I first saw him live, I was like, this is a fun spot to be in. And then later I was brought on, but blues-rock is my favorite of all time.

Abraham Marinelarena
Yeah, that's how we became friends. Yes, ma'am. I mean Oli, we're just geeking out over how much I like to emulate a lot of John Mayer's picking styles and stuff like that. I like the way he plays.

Nico Adjemian
What are your thoughts on expanding membership? Do you plan to expand to having more parts?

Abraham Marinelarena
Um, well, I think to answer the first question, adding someone else yes, absolutely. Eventually, I would like to add, I think the boys agree. We need another guitar player, someone just to help out with rhythm, essentially, and just create a fuller sound. You get a new perspective. You get new ideas. You also create like general good bonds with people, you know?

Photo Nico

Anthony Austin Brown
I remember it just starting off as a conversation, saying we need a bass. And Chris, I think had heard Oli play before. I didn't before we all practiced as a group. And I remember getting on the mic and then we, we start playing, I hear them [all together] and I hear the bass, with everything. And I'm just like, it was a song I always do. And I always remember, [but then] I'm just like, stuck. I was like, I looked at Chris and he's kind of like smiling.

Abraham Marinelarena
At me, like oh, my god.

Anthony Austin Brown
lt just brings that extra emphasis bro. It's that extra punch to what we already have.

Oliver Louissaint
It's fun. It's really fun. I just want to do whatever I can to do justice to Feline Fox the way they have been doing justice and just do my job and support and then have Abe take his guitar leadership to a different level especially when they bring in like a rhythm guitarist.

Christopher Serrano
It's a good balance. Like everybody has strengths as to producing and arranging. So that helps with the production value and bringing it up.

Nico Adjemian
What's the name of the album gonna be?

Abraham Marinelarena
No idea. No idea.

Nico Adjemian
Any projected date for release?

Abraham Marinelarena
Well, Chris, what do you think?

Christopher Serrano
Hopefully beginning of 2022

Nico Adjemian
Can't wait guys. Thanks for hanging out with me! This was very fun.


I really want to thank the band, Feline Fox, for their time and I hope you check them out live or follow them on social media, @felinefoxmusic

AND you can ACTUALLY see them performing live, along with ME, Tuesday, November 23 at the El Paso Comic Strip! Doors at 6 pm and the show starts at 7 pm.

Photo Nico

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