If you’ve been paying attention, then you’ve probably already realized that the salt in the air isn’t stir-crazy Miamians drip-drying from a day at the beach. It’s the hardworking sweat of Miami music scene veteran Rick Guerre, AKA Ricardo Guerrero.
Since the release of his self-titled LP in 2019, Guerre has been toiling in the studio, “obsessively thinking” about his new musical direction. Over the past year, the Miami-based musician would make the grueling trek, sometimes by train, up to West Palm Beach to longtime friend and producer Dan McHugh’s home studio. The two spent hours tirelessly experimenting on Guerre’s demos, eventually landing on a sound that differed from the surf sounds of his previous work.
The evolution of Guerre’s new “pop-oriented genre experimentation” is rooted in an eclectic variety of influences that include 1970s David Bowie, Afrobeat, Miami bass, Faith No More, and Caribbean sounds. The goal of his new sound: to make music everyone can enjoy.
“I really like the idea of stuff that is poppy and really weird but still accessible and fun in some kind of way. I love dancing,” Guerre tells New Times.
The first track from Guerre’s pop turn is “Mariana Cancán,” a haunting ode he describes as a “tribute to the displaced,” penned after a vivid dream he had in January 2019. In the dream, he went on a hike with his brothers in a place similar to the Grand Canyon.
“We stumbled upon sort of an underground cave, a catacomb of some sort, and there I found this girl who was a little mummy,” Guerre recounts. “When I saw her, I was immediately very upset by it. In the dream, when we found her, she came back to life, and she started kinda going crazy and was jumping around really happy. In the dream, she told me her name. [Mariana Cancán] is the name she actually told me.”
Jarred, Guerre immediately woke up and recorded a voice memo to document the details of the dream. He felt strongly about what he had just subconsciously conjured.
“I felt this dream wasn’t just a dream. I felt like it was somebody needed to be found out there in that realm and needed to be freed,” he explains. “The dream felt so real. I couldn’t just dismiss it as some fictional thing. I think I made contact with something or somebody who was stuck somewhere who needed to be found in order to be freed.”
Although Guerre says he has theories on who this person might be, he was unable to find any information on Mariana Cancán.
“I have a feeling it was somebody who was trying to get to the U.S. because of where it was and her name and because she was a little girl. I feel like it was somebody who got lost along the way,” he says.
According to Guerre, the song is about giving a voice to someone who didn’t have one. If you listen carefully at the 50-second mark, Guerre relays a message back to her. “From now on, you are free/You’ll never suffer again, and you’ll never cry again/Look at the sky, now you can fly/Now you’re free, forever and ever,” he says in Spanish.
“Mariana Cancán” is to be the first of a series of bi-monthly singles Guerre will release in 2020. He says he was destined to fight for those who can’t fight for themselves.
“My last name, Guerrero, means ‘warrior,’ and my first name, Ricardo, means great leader,” he says.
Guerre wants to use his talents and abilities to empower people through music.
“It’s a powerful thing to have to be able to affect people and communicate with people and to show people love through music,” he says. “I think it’s really important that we take it seriously and really think about what we can do with this. I have really big visions about what I want to do with my life through music. That’s what motivates me, the end goal. In my death bed, I want to be like, ‘I did everything I could fucking do for this world, and I did my best every single day, and I gave as much as I could to everybody around me.'”
Before the pandemic, Guerre was promoting shows with his company, Death to the Sun, and doing freelance event work. With no gigs on the horizon, he says he’s using the downtime to focus on learning more about the music industry and doing some much-needed introspection.
“I’ve been doing music since 2006 in Miami actively, and this is the first time I put effort into actually trying to get my music out, to actually promote myself and to actually maybe make something of my music,” Guerre says.
He encourages musicians to try and make the best of the situation and take a pause.
“I think for musicians in general, even though it’s tough not being able to go to shows or play shows, I think this is a good time for us to really focus in and re-appreciate what we do,” Guerre says. “People don’t realize how important music is and how important live shows are. I’ve always told my friends that musicians are healers.”
As an active show promoter in South Florida, Guerre says he isn’t worried about the future of the city’s music scene. He’s confident the scene will adapt but knows it will take time.
“I think musicians and just the music community, in general, are really resilient, and they’ll find a way,” he says. “They always find a way to continue to express themselves. I think being a musician, you have to be a really strong person. Choosing to do music, you’re going against the grain of society. You’re choosing the most insecure, dangerous career path there is.”