Flaco el Jandro Bringing a modern twist to traditional Mexican music

By Andrea Valadez

When Alejandro Gomez composed his first collection of riffs on his electric guitar at 14, he had no idea that music would one day consume his life.

The Chicano singer/songwriter, widely known as Flaco el Jandro, has musical influences that range from bolero and baladas to cumbia and indie-rock music. These styles come together to create a uniquely captivating blend that he describes as “Rockmantica.”

As a third-year music major at California State University, Monterey Bay, Gomez does his best to balance all of his passions. In addition to a busy schedule performing locally, he also teaches guitar at two separate nonprofits — the Alisal Center for Fine Arts in his hometown of Salinas, and Palenke Arts in nearby Seaside. 

The 29-year-old said that once he picked up his first guitar, he “never grew out of it … [music] is integral to my life.”

This dedication to his craft is paying off in an enthusiastic fan following, intriguing collaborations with other musicians, and being selected for a prestigious NPR Music tour this summer.

Gomez’s journey began when his mother purchased what he described as a “cheap five-dollar guitar.”

“I would just make noise on it. Eventually I saved up enough money to buy my own electric guitar.”

He found a love for making his own music, and formed a metal band during his freshman year at Everett Alvarez High School in Salinas. During this time, he began making his own mixtapes on a four-track recorder he bought.

In 2020, Gomez released his first EP, “Canciones para Curar la Depresión” (Songs to Cure Depression), which was entirely self-produced and a product of isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic. His second EP, “Nada Te Pido” (I’m Not Asking You for Anything), was released shortly after in 2021. The themes of these EP’s stretch from love and heartbreak to culture and self-identity. 

Gomez also makes it clear that the Flaco persona is a separate entity. “Flaco el Jandro is my piece of artistry, it’s really not just me. It’s everyone involved — the people who do my artwork, my band, other musicians who have played on my projects, mixing engineers that I work with. It’s a communal project, but I’m like the primary visionary.”

He is passionate about producing his own music and says his creative process is different every time he sits down to create something.

“I used to sit down with a guitar and just start writing, or an idea would pop into my head and I’d try to flush it out. Now that I’ve started to produce more, my process has changed a little bit. Instead of sitting down with a guitar, I’ll sit down with a computer,” he said.

Gomez’s diverse style is something he prides himself on. He credits a lot of his style to the music his mother would play around the house while he was growing up. The Latin pop group Los Pasteles Verdes and musician Chico Che inspired him to “not take anything too serious,” he said. Green Day, one of Gomez’s favorite bands as a teenager, also heavily inspired his distinctive Rockmantica sound.

Due to this blend of diverse influences, Gomez describes himself as “no stranger to doing different things. I like to keep a variety of feelings and vibes throughout a show.”

“I love playing locally, whether it’s in Salinas, Monterey, or even Santa Cruz. Those are always the best shows because it’s all friends and family that shows up. No one is going to support you like [them].”

Gomez and his band, Los Perros Callejeros, recently performed as an opening act for CSUMB’s annual festival Otterlands. The group’s lively set had the crowd dancing from the first song, even if the concertgoers didn’t all understand the songs in Spanish. 

With the majority of his lyrics in Spanish, it’s logical to assume this language barrier might limit his audience. 

“I think if anything, it opens more doors and possibilities. I sing in Spanish and in English, and there’s a lot of people that can’t do both,” said Gomez.

“Music is a universal language, everybody understands it. You don’t have to speak any specific language … or read music to understand it. It really doesn’t matter what language you’re singing in, as long as people can vibe to it.

“Music in Spanish and Chicanos/Latin people are a huge part of the United States. If the U.S. is the biggest cultural export in the world, then I don’t see why music in Spanish should be limited to one region.”

Fans of Flaco el Jandro have a lot to look forward to, with some notable performances and releases coming up this summer.

Flaco and Los Perros Callejeros were among the artists selected to open for NPR Music’s On the Road Tour, slated for June 22 at the Brick & Mortar Music Hall in San Francisco. Tickets for the show can be bought on NPR Music’s official website. The following day, the group will perform at El Garage in Richmond.

They’re also looking forward to a July residency at El Cid in Los Angeles with Cumbiatón, a collective centered on uplifting and celebrating underrepresented communities of color “both on the dance floor and in the DJ booth,” according to their website.

To round out their July performances, Flaco and Los Perros will travel to Santa Cruz to open for Ramona, an indie-rock band from Tijuana.

In addition, Gomez will release “Apaga la Luz” (Turn off the Light), a collaboration with local Mexican singer/songwriter Gabi Bravo on June 23. Written mostly by Bravo and produced by Gomez, the song features a catchy blend of Flaco’s Rockmantica and Bravo’s dream-pop sound.

For all this success, Gomez says he’s still dealing with the stigma attached to pursuing a music career. “I started going to school because I really wanted to elevate my musical knowledge and study theory and audio production, those are things that really interest me and help me produce my own music.”

“Having a degree helps legitimize my career as a musician above other people … my hope is that by getting a degree and pursuing a music career with it, I can inspire younger generations to do the same. That way we can create a more educated musical community in Salinas,” he said.

Gomez hopes to elevate his career to a level where he can afford to focus solely on recording and performing. While getting his degree is imperative, he acknowledged that “I’m not even sure if I’m balancing everything, I just close my eyes and go.”

Luckily for Gomez, music serves as a form of medicine that helps get him through any stress. “Music is my biggest form of therapy, so I hope it’s the same way for other people,” he said.

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Andrea Valadez

About Andrea Valadez

Andrea Valadez was born and raised on the outskirts of Los Angeles and is now a journalism student at Cal State Monterey Bay. She’s the current editor-in-chief of the school’s student-run newspaper, The Lutrinae.