Halo Orbit's Juan Alderete Talks Self-Titled Debut, Drops Knowledge on Who to Trust

Post Author: Meredith Schneider

Tomorrow marks a momentous day in history. After all, it is the day that Halo Orbit – the vibe music making trio of bassist Juan Alderete (The Mars Volta, Racer X, Deltron 3030), guitarist suGar (Buffalo Daughter, Metalchicks), and drummer Mark Guiliana (Beat Music, Mehliana) – releases their debut self-titled album. We’ve got pretty high expectations for this full-length, especially with the work we witnessed on their recent track “Trieste”.
In anticipation of the release, we took a moment to speak with Juan about the history of the trio, and what to expect with Halo Orbit. Check it out below!
What was the first song/record you remember hearing, and who introduced it to you?
At the same time it would have been anything from my father’s extensive jazz collection. He loved Bird and any latin jazz. Then my cousins and older brother were bumping Motown all the time. We lived in Pico Rivera so what is considered oldies now, that is what was I first heard.
What made you pursue music?
My pops was pretty instrumental in pushing me to the bass. He didnt play but he loved its sound and function in jazz music. That and my childhood friends who needed a bassist.
We know the years-long origin story of Halo Orbit, and are incredibly impressed that the relationship has garnered such great music after so much time knowing each other. Do you find that the years and advancements in technology have made it easier to create together, or does it provide more of a disconnect?
I feel it makes it easier. Sending tracks via email is the greatest invention for a musician, ever.
Do you have any fun anecdotes from the production of the album?
When we recorded Trieste and Brothers And Sisters, we had a chance to record for free at some friend’s studio near the Garment District DTLA and so we were all in town and we recorded those two jams. In my head, I felt my friend wasn’t prepared to record us and I was nervous that Mark and suGar were thinking “what did Juan get us into” so we just jammed and improvised and that those two tracks came out of it. Turned a potential loss into a win.
Do you have a favorite song off the album, or any fun stories that might have inspired the music for you?
I don’t have a favorite but I think the album was inspired by the search for new sounds and textures. At that time, I had about 200-300 pedals and effects in my rehearsal spot and suGar and I would grab things and just go for making sounds and parts that were un-treaded territory then incorporate it into our compositions.
What are you most excited about regarding the album release?
That we found such amazing homes for it. Beatink in Japan has bands like Squarepusher, Battles and puts out Brainfeeder releases. Alpha Pup has that for Brainfeeder and has dudes like Josef Leimberg who are opening doors for all progressive musicians. Some of our favorite music is on the same label websites as our release. That is inspiring.
How do you imagine people enjoying the album? 
I’m sure they are smoking to it. The more they legalize it, the more music like this will have its place. People who smoke tend to find music that is fresh or different…and this is coming from a dude who doesn’t really smoke.
You got quite the list of people to collaborate with on this collection. How did you get into cahoots with these people, and what was it like recording with them? 
I met Mark on a Mars Volta run when we went through NYC. I put him on the guest list, hung out after and we have been homies ever since. suGar, I met in the mid 90’s when our bands toured together opening for a legendary Touch And Go label band Girls Against Boys. We clicked then but then when I met my wife at Fuji Rock Festival Japan in 1999, we realized we both knew suGar and that brought suGar and me even closer.
What do you think about the future of the music industry, especially with the recent U.S. political climate?
There isn’t enough space on your website for me to comment on this. Let’s just say that no matter how much damage this fool does (and there will be damage), the worst thing he is, is a climate change denier. He can encourage racism, he can stack more money in the billionaire’s pockets, he can be in cahoots with Putin but the idea that he is going to deny what over 90% of scientists have proven is just scary. If you have kids, trust a scientist over a failed businessman/tv show host. Your kids (and their kids) are going to live in environmental challenges never seen our endured in the history of the planet. That is not a guess…that is a fact and not their bullshit “alternative fact.” A REAL SCIENTIFIC FACT.
How is this project different from your other musical associations, past, present, and future?
I have only ever done two previous bands that I considered myself an equal member. Big Sir and Vato Negro were my creations and my democratic bands. To have now a third is an accomplishment in the sense that this one was has members in Tokyo and NYC. We have to be focused and committed to get things done…and it would have been possible without our superhero engineer Robert Carranza that believed in the project so much that he recorded us in Brushfire studios for free and mixed a lot of it for free.
If you could score a movie together with your ambient tunes, which would it be? Or, alternatively, what genre would you choose and what would the name of that movie be?
Well a couple of songs may be considered ambient but the record as a whole is not. I would say let us do the next remake of Warriors but have the gangs from NYC battle the gangs in LA and Tokyo. We can provide the perfect music and textures for that flick.
What’s up next for you beautiful creatures?
We play the Low End Theory on Feb 15 and then Japan for three shows. Hiroshima (Club Quatro) on the 22nd, Tokyo on the 23rd (Unit) and Osaka on the 24th (Billboard Live). Also, a shit ton of rehearsals and hopefully some new jams!

Keep up with Halo Orbit here! Halo Orbit is available for preorder now.