Mustard had the pleasure of speaking with Leonardo Tellez who is apart of Young Costello, The Skajects and Volcan. Together we discussed when they first began playing saxophone, balancing being in multiple bands, the current ska scene, and so much more!
1. Mustard is grateful to have you join them at Music Shelf. How are you doing today?
Thank you for asking for the interview! I’m alright just resting between gigs and getting charts ready for other ones.
2. Mustard wonders what your relationship with Music was growing up. Who had the biggest influence on you?
Since out the womb! My father is a mariachi and has been singing Vicente for as long as I can remember lol. I credit him with teaching me how to use my ear at a very young age. As for influence its a tie between my dad and my older brother who also played sax, went to school and directs a very successful music program here in San Antonio
3. When did you first start playing the saxophone? What is the difference between alto and tenor? What advice would you give to those wanting to learn the saxophone?
I first honked on my brother’s old alto in 5th grade, they gave us electives in 6th grade and wanted to play sax just like my big brother. Difference between alto and tenor is tenor is bigger and has a longer curvier neck and reads in the key of B flat where an alto is in E flat. As for advice, find all your favorite tunes from animes, movies or video game tunes look up tutorials on how to play them on youtube, chances are you’ll find it, oh and long tones lol
4. Do you have a routine? What is your process?
Long tones, overtones, and intonation stuff then Scales and arpeggios up and down evenly in circle of 4ths motion til back to C. Transposing licks through the circle of fourths. Then reading jazz transcriptions on youtube. I try to practice but most times its song learning or chart writing
5. You are a member of Young Costello, Bexar Brass, The Skajects, and Volcan. Which group did you join first? How do you balance each?
I was playing with cumbia with Aniceto Molina and with a lot of Tejano Legends before but Young Costello was my first Legit Original music band, it was first called starlighter at the beginning and it was me, Phil Chavarria, John Michael Leija, Skaxdad, Nick Valdez, Trevor Shultz, and Hugo Funes our old Trumpet player which Felix Cruz III took the spot of.
After playing with YC for a lil bit Jason Valdez (leader of Kevin goes 2 College) who is the brother of Nick Valdez asked me and phil to play with them in The Skajects
After a while of doing pure Ska stuff Hugo had an idea of wrangling us 3 and a couple of other horn player homies around San Antonio and we made BexarBrass.
A little while after that I missed playing cumbia music and when I caught a Volcan live show and all the raza dancing in the audience I knew I had to be a part of it.
Ufffff, I’m still trying to learn how to balance. The bands with charts that I wrote out are easy to come back to, its the tunes I learned from memory I’ll always need a refresher from time to time lol
6. You were gracious enough to help Mustard practice their saxophone on Twitter awhile back. What are your thoughts on social media? How does social media play a role in the current music landscape?
Oh yeah! I hope you kept up with your playing!! Social media is great! We wouldn’t have met if not! I use social media straight up for work reasons now. Booking gigs, festivals, promo material, networking and even finding subs. Its a must to able able to post and be seen to be able to sell our merch or music to make a living.
7. Last year Young Costello released Music Shelf’s runner-up for album of the year “Stories Told, Some New, Some Old” What was the process like putting that album together? Is Young Costello working on anything new?
Yeah that was so nice of yall! Thank you! and usually John Michael comes in with a structure or some lyrics and the horns sit together and write a lick then find harmonies here and there. Recording everything was the long part lol
YES! We got a couple of new tunes in our pocket and planning on revealing some of them at the next Skapunk International festival in Austin at Flamingo Cantina in March!
8. For those who are unaware of #SkaTwitter how would you describe it?
Its awesome! its where the whole ska-community: bands and fans; is and shares new music and shows and the occasional meme lol
9. What are your thoughts on the current ska scene? Has it changed since you first joined?
Current Ska scene is BUMPIN! So many new music and friends I’ve made along the way. Everyone bringing each other up is a great feeling! Long live Newtone!
10. A human gets the chance to see you perform. How would you describe your live show? Should a human come prepared with anything?
Uffffffff, I’d describe it as electrifying haha
be ready to mosh, skank and hit the guepa on a cumbia and wear comfy shoes lol
11. One of your fighting moves is “Tenor Terror.” How would you pitch this as a film to a Hollywood executive?
Imagine you go to your favorite band’s live concert, only to find out it’s a concert full of beginner tenor saxes with embouchure problems, and you’re about to be bombarded with the most horrible sounding hot cross buns you’ve ever heard, AND YOU CAN’T LEAVE! MUAHAHAHA
12. What is on the horizon?
YOUNG COSTELLO 10 song full album! haha
Writing some of my own original music, collaborate with other ska groups, keep busy with gigs and play with anyone who wants to hire me lol
13. Where can readers listen to your music?
Spotify and everywhere else you stream music!
New Young Costello EP “Stories told” for your ska punk needs, The Skajects EP “Taken from the start” for your trad ska. Bexar brass just released our single of “Bourbon Street Parade” and Volcan just released their single “Julia”