Sierra Blanca is the brainchild of Jethro Gaglione. He got his start as a 10 year-old playing under a tent in Mexico, where his parents were part of a traveling missionary group. A faint trace of those old Mexican gospel songs can still be heard in Sierra Blanca’s music in the form of anthemic, catchy choruses inside indie/soul songs.
In 2015, after establishing himself in El Paso, Texas with two regionally successful releases under the name ‘A Main Street Marvel,’ Jethro quit his job as a high school physics teacher and moved to Nashville, Tennessee. A fresh start in a new city deserved a new musical alias. Sierra Blanca’s new EP, Honorable Mention, incorporates elements of gospel/soul rhythm with indie pop/folk vocals and guitar work. Some songs off of Honorable Mention can be seen performed live on the project’s YouTube channel, along with other unreleased material.
The current focus of this project is in the writing of a debut full-length album with a focus on uninhibited writing and instrumentation with a fresh drive and perspective. Release of the LP is expected in early 2018.
In this interview spotlight, we chat with Sierra Blanca about influences, challenges, the new project and more.
Full Q&A along with links and streams below.
Where are you from and what style of music do you create? (In your own words, not necessarily in marketing terms or by popular genre classifications.)
I was raised in northern Mexico, but I was born in El Paso, TX and spent my teens and early 20s there. The style of my music has definitely changed over time, but I would say the common denominator is that it’s soulful on the rhythm side of things, and I like to keep the guitar and vocal parts decently complex and interesting. The new EP is more singer/songwriter influenced, definitely a lot more heartfelt and calm.
What led you down this path of music and what motivates you to stay the course?
I was involved in music from a pretty young age. I started at around 10 years old playing in a worship group for our family’s missionary team. I grew up with it and even after leaving that lifestyle I just kept playing and writing music. It has always been something I really enjoy and has helped me through some tough times in one way or another, so I can’t really picture myself not doing it.
How is your new release different than previous ones? Did you set out to accomplish anything specific?
I wanted tom make a collection of songs that could be transmitted to an audience whether I played them alone with an acoustic guitar or as a full band. In my previous releases, I put alot more focus on intricacy of instrumentation with a lot of stuff going on, but moving to Nashville and playing a lot of solo shows definitely had an impact on the newer sound.
Do you face any challenges as an indie musician in a digital age? On the flip side, how has technology helped you (if it has)?
Most of it is good, I would say. There’s a ton of different ways to spread your music and it’s pretty simple to get it in the hands of the people that want it, but it also definitely means there are a million other artists in the mix that listeners need to sift through. I think the fact that you can put up content to be directly delivered to an audience has made me more creative in coming up in the sense of putting together things other than just audio tracks. It’s fun being able to just film videos and watch them spread around a bit.
Where can we follow you online and hear more music?
The website is a good spot (www.sierrablancamusic.com), since you can pretty much get to all social media spots from there. Spotify is probably the best place to listen, and, like I mentioned earlier, I try to keep a decent amount of video content on YouTube (www.youtube.com/c/sierrablancamusic)
Anything else before we sign off?
Thanks for having me!