Meet Tucson desert music duo Glacier.WAV
Frank Anzaldua and Jaime Soto bring a blend of darkwave, shoegaze, synthwave and ’80s ballad sounds. Glacier.WAV combines Jaime Soto’s pop sensibility with Frank Anzaldua’s rock foundation to create something unique. The Tucson duo has kept busy recently, releasing their first album in February.
The two musicians, who were both born and raised in Tucson, wanted to take listeners on a journey, offering different sounds throughout the album.
The self-titled Glacier.WAV album is made up of ten tracks that speak on larger societal issues such global warming, life during a global pandemic, and the challenges of trying to make it in Tucson as electronic musicians, with songs such as “Glacier,” which explores the topic of climate change; “Never Gonna Make It,” about Soto’s experiences and frustrations as a gay artist; and “We Live, part I” by Anzaldua, who is an LGBTQ ally, and features spoken word from his cousin Nicolas Anzaldua; “Vine” is about the push-and-pull nature of romantic relationships, in not feeling ready to be with a partner but wanting to grow to be everything that person needs.
Soto said the song is personal in two ways. “I’m not a great vocalist. I have to accept that. Sometimes, it’s not about that. That song represents a lot of imperfections vocally for me but also ties into that feeling of imperfection in the world of love and romance, where you don’t have all of the answers all the time,” Soto said.
“I feel like it’s not as common anymore to write albums like this. It used to be common. If you just think about Purple Rain. Those songs are really different,” Anzaldua said. “It goes from punk to ballad. In that nostalgic vein, not just in particular per song but also for the album as a whole, I wanted to capture that feeling of what albums were like in that era.”
ON MAKING AN ALBUM DURING A PANDEMIC
During the pandemic, they wrote and recorded some of the songs on their own and sent files back and forth. They found that even from afar, they have strong chemistry as a duo and can work well collaboratively.
“I think our process is: Frank makes something beautiful, and he sends it to me, and then I just try to remain really really open to whatever lyrics pop into my head. I think Frank does such a good job of coming up with melodies and musical parts that if I use the track as a guide, I can come up with a vocal melody that follows it,” Soto says. “On my end, my process is to just be open, to not think too hard and to let whatever words come to me as they come to me. For this project especially, I tried not to edit myself too much and say what I had to say.”
Soto says that as a vocalist, he will often try to give space for the synthesizers to have moments within songs.
Anzaldua said for him creating an album with such different songs was a satisfying process. “I particularly like this project because I don’t like writing the same song over and over again,” Anzaldua said. “It keeps things interesting for me and hopefully translates to the audience.”
Part of their ramp up for their album was a release of their video for “I Want to Feel the Sun.” The video was shot in Tucson at Saguaro National Park last December, with help from Sin Bros Dan and Gabe Singleton.
During the video, the musicians and crew wore masks and socially distanced. They also were tested for Covid-19 prior to shooting.
Soto says that the music video captures the feelings of isolation and loneliness he and Anzaldua experienced during the pandemic. The song also touches on the social issue of how the pandemic was handled as a health crisis.
“The verses talk more politically about the government and how it just felt like it was another moment where people were allowed to die essentially. It made me think about the AIDS epidemic and things in the past, situations where it feels like the government maybe doesn’t really care about people,” Soto said.
Anzaldua said although the video was shot during the pandemic, he wanted it to have a more universal feel. “The challenge there was to make a video that wasn’t stuck in time. I tried to write a storyline that could be interpreted symbolically and could be applied to any sort of crisis,” Anzaldua said.
The video allowed the two to get creative with their looks, using pieces such as a spiked belt, a harness and black-winged sleeves from local designers Vera Saucy and S.U.B.M.I.T., and drag performer Jeena Doucure. Inspiration was Tina Turner, the X-Men and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.
They both enjoy dressing up in costume when they perform. “One of the best parts of being a performer is not just getting up onstage in a T-shirt and playing a riff. It’s a lot of putting on a show, having some self-humor. That’s why a lot of my outfits are funny and not cool or sexy,” Anzaldua said.
HOW THEY MET
The two had previously worked together on other projects and performed onstage together over the years.
They first met in the early 2000s at a battle of the bands competition at Club Congress. Soto performed as a solo pop artist, and Anzaldua was in electro punk, metal and post rock groups.
The two musicians both have a long history in the Tucson music scene but only recently formed Glacier.Wav around 2017, when they began collaborating on “Glacier.” The file name for the song inspired the name of their group.
They recorded that first song at Anzaldua’s house, with Soto singing in a closet using a mic covered with a sock.
“Being broke for so long and working on music, you get creative,” said Anzaldua, who began playing the guitar and writing songs around age 20. Growing up, he liked underground groups such as Neurosis and Isis.
“I feel like my tastes are pretty eclectic. I wouldn’t say I like everything, but I go from R&B to post rock. That’s a pretty wide spectrum. This project is more of a combining of all of those things in a way, this ’80-ish electro funk, new jack swing and R&B combined with post rock… There’s some atmospheric elements. There’s some synthwave elements,” Anzuldua said.
Soto, who was part of his school’s orchestra and mariachi programs, would always sing along to music by The Judds , K.T. Oslin, Gwen Stefani and Selena growing up. He first got onstage in a kindergarten show for parents, singing “Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush,” and later performed a Selena song during an eighth-grade talent show.
“I remember walking out being terrified. Terror is a theme in my performing life. Just doing this song, I don’t know what came over me. I dropped to my knees. I’m belting this Selena mariachi song. Then, I was the most popular kid in eighth grade for the last two weeks… Secretly, I’ve just always performed in my room for stuffed animals. I took a swing at that eighth-grade thing. After that experience, I had to kept doing it,” Soto said.
Anzaldua and Soto had just started to perform together before the pandemic, doing a few shows locally. In February, the two appeared on Freddy Prinze Charming’s and Felicia Minor’s livestreamed podcast “Let’s Have a Fefe.”
They recently have started to do shows, when it became safer to perform before crowds. Their first time back in front of a live audience was a drive-in show on May 22, then a show at Thunder Canyon Brewery, 220 E. Broadway Blvd., on July 16.
Soto said while he is nervous to start performing again for crowds, he is ready to get back onstage. “I keep picturing it as being a really wild experience. Things will go wrong. Things will go right. That’s the beauty of live performance. Like life, it’s so unpredictable, which is terrifying for me, but it’s really really exciting,” Soto said.
For more information go to glacierwav.com.