By John Ostapowicz
In the Mahoning Valley, The Labra Brothers have been a staple with their stand-out live performances at local venues with unique latin sounds.
By combining latin roots, soul and funk, The Labra Brothers have changed their sound in preparation for the bands new EP, “Be Cool” which was released April 7. Accompanied with the release, the brothers performed at Westside Bowl April 8.
To The Labra Brothers, family is what drives the band with four of their members being brothers.
The brothers grew up in Youngstown, with the oldest brother, lead-guitarist and vocalist Adrian Labra, making the biggest impact on the brothers’ music influences.
Adrian Labra graduated from Youngstown State University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in Accounting in 2014.
The second oldest brother and bass player, Cristian Labra, said he remembers the impact his older brother had on his musical upbringing.
“[Adrian] started playing out at restaurants and bars, solo,” Cristian Labra said. “I started to pick up percussion and started to be a percussionist and vocalist with him.”
Shortly after, Cristian Labra switched to bass and has stuck with it since.
“Eventually, [Adrian] came to me with the idea of picking up bass,” Cristian Labra said. “It was fun to really dive into an instrument and learn it.”
While putting the band together, guitarist and saxophonist David Labra was initiated into the group when his older brothers persuaded him to take up the saxophone as a second instrument.
“While [Adrian] was officially starting the group, he said, ‘David, we just need you to learn saxophone,’” David Labra said. “I took a few lessons and self taught from there.”
The youngest member of The Labra Brothers is percussionist Antonio Labra.
Besides the brothers, the band consists of two other members, drummer Matt Hayes and keyboardist Danny Svenson.
Hayes has been with the brothers since the start, while Svenson has worked with The Labra Brothers in his home studio as well as for live performances. He has added his own flair to the band with his ability to mix and bring his own ideas to the table.
With Svenson’s involvement in several musical projects in Youngstown, it led to The Labra Brothers partnering up with bass player and producer Unc D. Svenson’s ability to take on multiple projects at a time, has put him in a position to make the most of his opportunities.
“To be honest, man, I feel like my entire [motto] is essentially being able to say yes to what’s in front of me,” Svenson said.
The inclusion of Svenson has helped the band’s production, and he’s provided creative output on the brothers’ tracks.
“He is just an endless well of positive energy,” David Labra said. “Working with a really good friend and that makes the whole process more natural.”
The Labra Brothers got into the music scene in 2019 with their debut album “Colder Weather.” As of April 10, the album’s self-titled track is the band’s most streamed song.
In 2022, The Labra Brothers had a big year with the release of the band’s second EP “Waiting.” The band also opened up for headliner HUNNY at Federal Frenzy 2022, hosted by Penguin Productions.
For the brothers, that was a career-defining moment.
“It was a special moment for us,” David Labra said. “Opening for a big national act like HUNNY was awesome.”
During the 2022 Cleveland Music Awards, The Labra Brothers were named Best Latin Artist in northeast Ohio.
In July of the same year, the band took a family trip to San Luis Potosí, Mexico, where a four part documentary series was recorded and released on The Labra Brothers’ YouTube page. While in Mexico, the group also recorded the music video for the single “Be Cool.”
For The Labra Brothers, 2023 is shaping up to be another busy year with the release of the band’s third EP, with more music planned for May.
“Be Cool” introduces a new song in Spanish “Los Días”, and for The Labra Brothers, it opens the doors for new possibilities.
“It’s a different style for us a little bit,” Cristian Labra said. “One is mostly in Spanish, which is a first for us and that process was pretty fun to workshop.”
Although the Labra Brothers will not be returning for Federal Frenzy 2023, the band will be back in the music scene at the Music & Art on Oak Glen 2023 in New Cumberland, West Virginia.
The Labra Brothers EP, with three new songs, is now streaming on Spotify and Apple Music.