Catalina Maria Johnson

International radio broadcaster, bilingual cultural journalist, music curator


“My friend needed a drummer. And he wanted one that could sing. So I said, “yes,” explains Ani Cordero, describing how she came to be the drummer on Os Mutantes’ U.S. tour this year.  A pioneering, world-renowned psychedelic rock group from Brazil. Os Mutantes exploded on the Tropicália scene in the late sixties, bringing a unique twist to a mix that took influences from the Beatles and Bossa Nova to John Cage and the the friend she is referring to is Sérgio Dias, one of Os Mutantes’ founding members.

Cordero herself is quite well-known to Latino audiences, due to the fact that with her own group, Cordero, she has explored many facets of being a Puerto Rican Latina indie rocker, after also being one of the founding members of Pistolera.

Recently, she also embarked on a solo project to record versions of Latin American music from the 30’s to the 80’s, hallmark songs of Latin culture which had also been the soundtrack of her family’s life. Dias, in fact, produced that recording, and Cordero will be reciprocating by participating in an upcoming Os Mutantes album.

Being a drummer for the iconic psychedelic Brazilian rock band has had it’s challenges, she notes, as they are playing not just new material but classic Os Mutantes material:  “you have to experience songs have been played before, explore somebody else’s part but then make it your own.” But mostly it’s been fun, she describes: “They laugh a lot!  Vinicius the bass player is great at making puns –  in Portuguese but I do get them about half the time!”

The playful spirit is essential to the band’s persona, says Cordero: “Playing with Os Mutantes, it’s all about ‘how many rules can you break?’ She gives as an example that sometimes the musicians say it’s better that she’s not too familiar with some of the material, so it stays spontaneous. The band is well-known for a whimsical and slightly wild sense of humor, she adds, “There’s a definitive prankster element all around”.

Cordero is also enjoying the spirit of collaboration that Dias fosters in the band, and adds the interaction goes both ways: “I am a more dance-beat, less jazzy … There’s still a part of me that is about where I first played drums, in an African American marching band…I think what am adding is the booty-shake! ” It’s all just another chapter in a continuing musical story, she concludes, “Os Mutantes is still mutating.”

Os Mutantes will perform at Lincoln Hall Dec. 1 at 9PM.

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