‘En Los Años 1600,’ Joe Arroyo
“That’s so dope. I wanted to have it in the show — I tried to add it in the end but I just couldn’t. Just the way he breaks down salsa. He breaks it down to the clave. You don’t usually hear someone break it down to the clave. Then the story — he’s a storyteller, this guy. He’s talking about disrespect to black women and the slave master disrespecting the woman and this man can’t take it anymore so he leaps at the master.”
‘The Big Payback,’ James Brown
“I can’t live without James Brown. He’s the lifeline of everything, man. It just hits me in my happy bone, you know? As I’m getting ready, I get dressed and then I start dancing around just to try to get in touch with things that make me feel like me.
His music was at a perfect time because it was during civil rights activism and he became a voice of it. The music has pride and anger and protest built in.”
‘La Schmoove,’ Fu-Schnickens
“I don’t have any hip-hop in the show. I have this in the preshow house playlist. This is when hip-hop was free, when it was really creative, when it didn’t have to be gangster rap. When it didn’t have to exploit women. It was about dudes having a blast together, being dudes, being bros and just having fun.”
Boleros by La Sonora Matancera
“You have to include some of the best periods of our music, which includes this ’50s bolero stuff. Every Latin person my age would always have it in the background. It would be my grandparents listening to this music.
[I think] about my grandma and her going about her life and I’m sure she was thinking about her dating days. It’s very nostalgic because I feel she was listening in a nostalgic kind of way: about lost love and love that can’t be requited, the anguish of not having the person you want by your side at night.”
Nocturnes by Chopin
“How can you be a full man or a full human being without being inclusive and without being eclectic? This music just really helps me connect with the more creative side, my more vulnerable side. My more meditative and thoughtful side. I don’t want to dis New Age music. There’s a place for it, but it’s not really for me. This is what I feel like I can meditate to.”
‘Kind of Blue,’ Miles Davis
“Miles Davis makes you more of an artist. To help not take the road most traveled, take the other road. I always feel like he’s telling me, ‘Trust your instinct and not try to please. Please yourself and that’s the only way to please the artist gods.’ ”
‘La Vaca,’ Mala Fe
“This is just about joy and freedom and sexiness — the song at the house parties we used to have when everybody gets up and everybody is dancing. Even people who were afraid of dancing.
[I put this in the show] because it’s the most fun out of all the merengues I’ve ever heard. It’s funny. The song lyrics are ridiculous. It’s the nonsense that life is about. You’ve got to celebrate silliness. It’s a huge part of life and it never gets the respect it deserves.”