Mayra Vargas, is a Los Angeles by-way-of Peru multi-instrumentalist who writes and performs under the moniker Inti Wawa, which translates to “Baby of the Sun,” from Quechua, the language spoken by the Inca civilization.
Growing up, Vargas studied classical voice, but the rigors and stress of music school left her cold and creatively unfulfilled. Eventually, she came to Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for Girls Orange County, where she learned guitar and began to write her own music. From there, she spent four years playing guitar and drums in bands before new inspiration hit earlier this year, and she began to learn the charango and combine her rock sensibilities with her Andean roots.
The charango is an Andean guitar with roots going back to the 18th century. Though traditionally the charango was made from the dried shell of an armadillo, today they are primarily made from wood. Various forms of the instrument have evolved over the centuries, and it continues to be popular across the Andean region. In her debut single, “Cantamos Fuerte,” Vargas shows that the classic instrument can pair well with modern, acid-washed pop.
“Cantamos Fuerte” celebrates the positive change than can happen with community and friendship. “The first quarter of this year was kind of rough for me, and with all the feelings and stress, it felt like music was slowly slipping away from me,” says Vargas. “In hard times we often feel alone, like no one is around to hold us, and believe in us, and tell us that we can make it through. I found myself in a place in which I felt I couldn’t make a day without stressing, or dwelling on the what ifs of life.”
Directed by Stumble on Tapes’ Melissa Ramirez and edited by Quin McCarthy, the the video for “Cantamos Fuerte” brings the heart of Inti Wawa to life. Shot over two days at LA DIY space Gal Palace and Chantry Falls in Los Angeles Forest, the video finds Vargas and her band performing alongside dancers from the Raices Peruanas, with glimpses of her friends seemingly posing for the camera in-between.
“The video concept is a gathering of my happiest memories,” Vargas says. “My memories as a child being exposed to beautiful traditional Peruvian folklore dances and music (which is in itself community driven, mostly made for dancing and celebrating the region it comes from) and a collection of the memories of the faces of my dearest friends, the people who empower me and inspire me to be better; the people who are always by my side even if it’s just in the form of a happy memory.”
Watch “Cantamos Fuerte” below. The single is out now.