“I always had the dream of singing in a band, every since I was a kid in Chihuahua, Mexico,” shares Roka Hueka frontman, Andy Gonzalez. “When I was 32 years old, I had a chance to create a project, not a band, just a project. So I started an ad on Craigslist looking for musicians to start a Latin ska band project. Then it took a while to find the right crew, people were coming in and out, they didn’t believe it, they didn’t feel it. And then I had the right people suddenly that really believed in this project.”
Roka Hueka is a Denver-based Latin ska band which has been creating danceable beats since forming in 2014. From that original Criagslist ad, Gonzalez found bandmates including drummer Blake Pendergrass and bassist Ric Urrutia. They started out playing ska versions of popular songs and then began to write their own material, mixing in reggae, Afrobeat, hip hop, and punk to create a unique sound rooted in Latino culture. The result today is a fun, lively, and fierce sound that keeps you moving. Though its sound is unique in its own right, Roka Hueka is perhaps best-known for their lyrics which tackle hard issues like racism and politics.
“We write music about life, about what is going on around the world,” Gonzalez continued. “Every single time you open your door and get out you see a lot of stuff. We want to write what we feel in that moment. Sometimes we write happy songs, sometimes we write political, powerful songs. One of the things we have is the power of the music, the power of the microphone. And Roka Hueka wants to give the message to the people, to the community, that there is hope to create a better world without violence, without racism. So that’s our part. We’re going to tell the people it’s going to be ok. Let’s get together; come on, let’s dance, let’s sing. Let’s dream together and be just one.”
With the sponsorship of Cerveceria Colorado, Roka Hueka put out their first vinyl record in October, 2019. The limited edition 7-inch vinyl record release was released as part of the Territorio Liberado, a music event and benefit concert created by Roka Hueka in response to rising anti-immigrant sentiment that has swept the country since the elections in 2016. All proceeds from sales of the record benefit Metro Denver Sanctuary Coalition, a nonprofit that provides shelter and support to undocumented immigrants, and Casa de Paz, a nonprofit which provides a home for immigrants in transition.
“Roka Hueka means hollow rock. It means something solid, but its hollow so you can put all the ideas together, you can just put everything inside. And mix them. And create. And still its going to be strong, solid as a rock,” continued Gonzalez. “Our message is injected into our music. Roka Hueka is going to keep creating music for so many years. Trust me. We’re going to keep doing it.”