TEXAS – Alina Mallén’s fingers strum a vihuela while reading music.
“I love to play Vihuela, it’s from Mexico,” said Mallén.
Mallén is a professional mariachi and plays most of her adult life. San Antonians can even tell their time at Spurs games. As much as she is a traditionalist, the music is an arrangement from “Gerudo Valley”. The song debuted in 1998 on Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
“It’s so much fun playing different chords and different progressions. You don’t usually see that in traditional music, ”she said.
Mallén is a founding member of Mariachi Entertainment System. She is known as Doomsday Lozano according to her website Bio.
“It’s great fun to see other people’s nostalgia when they hear us,” said Mallén.
Mallén makes singing, plays the flute and vihuela. As founding member David Ortiz will tell you, she can do pretty much anything.
“We’re putting the finishing touches on a ‘Zelda’ album that we’re working on to release later this year,” said Ortiz.
Ortiz is the musical director and writes arrangements for the band. He started playing mariachi in college and is a classically trained musician.
“I noticed that mariachis were often discredited. I didn’t really feel the stereotypes about mariachis were true, it wasn’t always five fat guys getting drunk in a bar and sounding awful, “Ortiz said. “There are a lot of good musicians who play.”
Ortiz felt that video game music also went unrecognized.
“Video game music also fell into the same category in which other classical musicians did not legitimize it. I thought if I did both, others would see that both are worthwhile efforts, ”Ortiz said.
MES has been around since 2015. Her YouTube channel shows some of her live performances before the pandemic, including venues like PAX South in San Antonio. Ortiz thought the YouTube channel was a toast in 2020, but the group stepped up and posted 20 videos last year.
While Ortiz doesn’t brag about every part of the group’s work, he’s proud of the work they’ve done from various studios.
“The little thing about getting a successful mix of such styles is a tricky endeavor,” said Ortiz.
As fascinating as it may be to see mariachis play video game music for some, there are people who believe they are too deviated from tradition.
“People try to say things like, ‘Why are you playing this with mariachi? It shouldn’t be. ‘We changed it from the start,’ said Mallén.
She describes Charro Avitia and Mariachi Vargas as artists who inspired change.
“There is an occasional person who doesn’t want to hear mariachi music being played and singing in English. It’s not your cup of tea, ”Ortiz said. “It’s this criticism of how mariachis or musicians approached other genres.”
Ortiz equates the beauty of fusing two genres of music with food.
“You can put ketchup on your tacos and call for a fusion. Using the same ingredients thoughtfully to create something that is actually representative of different styles and cultures is a lot trickier and requires a lot more thought, “Ortiz said.