Metanoia launched into 2021 with the release of their latest single, "We Won't Stay Here" featuring D-Fi Logic.Photo By Ayaan Ahsan
Metanoia is a concept dating back to Greek mythology involving changing someone’s mind or heart through a reflective and spiritual journey. Houston band Metanoia hopes to do just that using their music as a means to inspire listeners to open their minds.
“Even if my music doesn't give you an answer, I want people to start talking,” says front woman Cristina Urquieta. “If we don’t start communicating with each other, we’re always going to be divided.”
Throughout the pandemic, Metanoia focused on revisiting and mastering previously recorded songs to be released as singles with videos. They plan on releasing a steady stream of new music throughout the year with their next single due to drop on February 15.
“It’s been such a process to mix and master and it’s been crazy but I finally figured out the technique I want to use. I'm really excited because finally, there's a plan. We are not just holding onto these songs and collecting dust.”
The entire collaboration, sonically and visually, is a wonderful representation of the often-celebrated diversity in the city of Houston. “We Won’t Stay Here” starts strong with a funky bass line surprisingly intertwined with Urquieta’s heavy violin riff, an instrument rarely associated to reggae and ska music.
Urquieta’s violin sounds as fierce as her voice and lyrics about threatening to ‘pull back the curtain’ and expose the corruption in the world. D-Fi Logic piggybacks off of her verses adding his own hip hop flavor and shared disapproval of how the political powers that be have managed to muddy the waters of communities all over the country.
“I just wanted to have a declaration about what we are about,” says Urquieta about the track. In pre-COVID times, Urquieta describes how Metanoia would frequently invite local rappers to join them onstage, adding another element to their reggae and ska vibe.
She describes her sense of protection over the lyrics of the bands songs and her own apprehension at having others lay down verses on a permanent recording, but with D-Fi Logic she had no doubts.
“I felt he’d be up for the challenge,” she says. “I have such a particular message that I want to convey and not everyone writes like that or wants to write like that. He came in like fire; he knew exactly what I was looking for. He brought the song to life in my opinion.”
Though the song was written years ago, the subject matter holds strong to current day issues.
“It’s the same stuff, just different people. I feel like a lot of our songs, they stay relevant and even though we wrote these several years ago, it’s still really relevant to what's going on now. It might even be more relevant now than it was then.”
Metanoia’s recent approach to releasing new music as singles and videos versus albums is on point with the current trend seen in most genres these days as streaming platforms and people’s attention spans are more supportive of the change in formatting and distribution of new songs.
“I think that the singles are a little bit more effective because you can release videos with each one and then you get everybody to focus on this one thing, rather than this whole album.”
For Metanoia, a large part of their energy and appeal comes from performing live where Urquieta says she and her band shine the brightest, an element to the music which is oftentimes difficult to capture in the studio.
“When you go to a show you want to see people getting crazy, moving around and excited,” she says describing how her horn players often get the mosh pits going while she can sing and play in the audience with wireless set ups.
“We really like to interact with everybody. It’s so easy for us to connect with people and I think in the digital realm releasing music, it's been really different.”
Listening to “We Won’t Stay Here” it’s easy to imagine how the band can ramp up a crowd during a live performance with their funky instrumental blends and socially conscious lyrics.
Urquieta attributes her band’s focus on an overarching message of unity and social justice on the birth of her daughter, who she had just shy of turning 21, and all the thoughts she had about the world before her birth which made her increasingly aware of world issues.
“I feel like we are being attacked on all these different fronts. It’s not just politically, it’s in our food, our air, the water, our education, the television programming. I started thinking about all of this stuff and I was like wow, I need to make this world better.”
Urquieta thought hard about what she could do to combine her passions and make an impact in the world and the answer was clear.
“I feel like music and visual art are the two biggest mediums to change consciousness in people and it’s also the fastest because it’s the speed of sound and the speed of light. I want the world to be better, so lets talk about things. Lets talk about things that people are afraid to talk about.”
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Gladys Fuentes is a first generation Houstonian whose obsession with music began with being glued to KLDE oldies on the radio as a young girl. She is a freelance music writer for the Houston Press, contributing articles since early 2017.