Photos courtesy Berto Muñoz
I love the local Philadelphia music scene, and I’ve had the pleasure of meeting so many colorful characters in it.
Berto Muñoz is one of them.
He’s a great supporter of the scene in Philadelphia, and is also a big contributor to it’s creativity. As lead singer of The Great SOCIO, Berto is spreading he musical message throughout the city–and is even gearing up to produce a new EP. Oh, and did I mention he has an amazing top hat? Cause he has an amazing top hat.
I was able to ask Berto some questions about his life as a musician and the things that inspire him.
Growing up, how was music a part of your life?
Well…I’m a singer. And as with most passionate vocalists…singing became a part of my life the moment I could speak. I must have tortured my parents as a child since my walkman was glued to my head and I belted tunes in the backseat of every car ride. I started playing piano and trumpet around the age of 8. Band was definitely my favorite class through grade school and middle school.
You wanna hear some geeking out? Come 8th grade, I joined HS Marching Band and Jazz Band as well as started performing in the HS musicals. I did all three for 5 straight years and actually boasted perfect attendance over 5 years of Marching Band. Yikes. Music and I were simply inseparable.
At what point did you know that you needed to make music your artistic commitment?
I love this question because the answer comes to me immediately. After my formative years playing and performing, it was time to ship off to college. As much as music flowed through me, I never remotely considered it something that I would do professionally. The thought just never occurred to me. So, I went to Lehigh University and ultimately settled on studying International Relations. I didn’t play my trumpet throughout all of college. After my freshman year, my involvement in plays and choirs just kind of fizzled out as I began to focus on academia. But, in the Fall semester of my Senior year, I studied abroad in Madrid Spain.
For the first time in 21 years, I had really escape the societal bubbles I had grown up in and was taught to accept. I reached Spain, lived there, challenged myself, and was opened to a beautiful new world of perspective. Lets just say, when I came back to Lehigh, I felt very detached from the previous life I led. Thankfully, my best friends and I had already started dabbling in music together just before I left for Spain. Within a couple of months of my return, we started The Great SOCIO, and from the very moment that we did, I knew that being an artist was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
Photos courtesy Berto Muñoz
What are some of your biggest influences?
My biggest influence is the philosophy that we are all incredibly lucky to be given the life that we have. We’re not entitled to a single thing and our primary responsibility as human beings is to spread love, take care of one another, and to leave the world a better place. I mean what else is there to life? You’re born, you learn, you come of age, you work for 50 years, and then you die. Most of life is work, so do what you love and leave your mark on the world.
My other great influences are my parents. They are Ecuadorian immigrants (I’m first generation here) who came with nothing. They worked 2 life times each and started from complete scratch. Now they live in a beautiful suburban home in the Lehigh Valley enjoy the commodities of a middle-class life style. They are living proof that with a strong mind and hard work, you can achieve anything. They are the reason why I even have the opportunity to choose the path that I am on. I am fortunate to have their full support in my artistic endeavors.
Photos courtesy Berto Muñoz
Tell us a little about The Great SOCIO.
The Great SOCIO is an extraordinary band. I say that because from my perspective, I’m just an actor/performer that delivers their undeniable magic. We are a regional touring act that is most commonly compared to bands like The Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Doors, Incubus, Cake, and with the attitude of Faith No More.
We call it Groove Rock which boils down to contemporary alternative rock with modern effects, synthesizers, a spicy trumpet, a classic and familiar sound…yet…no electric guitar. Needless to say, you’re racking your brain to find a comparison. We spent all of 2012 hitting the pavement and traveling to new places as much as we could. We spread our love for music and good times, and we made a ton of friends along the way. Now in 2013, we are in preparations for the release of our new EP “Modern Grip” as well as organizing our touring schedule, and gearing up to announce the CD release party date.
I hear you guys have a Kickstarter. What are you guys looking to do once your money is funded?
Yes! Kickstarter! Help!
We are firm believers that you don’t just go launch a Kickstarter because you need some money. If you’re going to tap into your fan base, your friends, and your family, it better be something special. We launched this Kickstarter with the knowledge that we’re absolutely ready to take the next step as a group. We took painstaking care to determine the financial commitment that goes behind making that step happen. And now that a whole new stage of SOCIO is in our sights, we need EVERYONE to get involved and help us get there.
The money will be going towards the cost of the actual production of the CD. It will go towards, printing, new merchandise to sell on tour, digital and physical distribution (we have offers from Canadian American Records), as well as radio promotion, tour promotion, and then the actual costs of traveling and playing shows all over the region and beyond. Please, if you believe in our work, then we need your support.
So go support Berto and The Great SOCIO on Kickstarter! You have until March 11th to help make it happen! They have an amazing sound, and every time you support local Philadelphia music an angel gets it’s wings. It’s true. I read it on the bathroom wall of Tattooed Moms–so it has to be true.