More than a record label: Happy Daps is building a community

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The High Curbs, Sketches, Israel’s Arcade and Home View. Photo Illustration By: Geovanni Esparza// el Don.

Ten years ago, Ed Moreno was a teenager in the Inland Empire trying to get his band The High Curbs’ foot in the door of the L.A. indie scene by playing backyard and house shows all over the region whenever they could. Now Moreno is throwing his own shows, throwing his own festival, signing and promoting other Latino-fronted indie bands, curating a playlist, and creating a community known as Happy Daps Records

Israel Pinedo, the singer from Coachella-based Israel’s Arcade, said, “The scene is and feels extremely inclusive right now more than ever… there are definitely quite a lot of people in the industry wanting to help up-and-coming Latino artists. There’s even a lot of POC in the industry whose goal is to do just that.”

Coachella-based Israel’s Arcade performed at Happy Daps Fest and are featured on the Latino Fronted Indie playlist. Photo courtesy of Israel Pinedo.

Through Happy Daps, Moreno is using his status and experience to be the big brother to other Latino-fronted indie bands. He understands how much helping out someone who is coming up because they saw other bands do it when they were coming up. Joseph Silva, the singer for San Diego-based Home View, spoke of a time Moreno gave his band some advice. 

 “Ed actually helped us dodge a fat bullet. We were gonna work with these people who wanted to do stuff with Home View that sounded really nice. The High Curbs happened to have worked with them before, and Ed got on a call with me to share his experience, which I am eternally grateful for since he totally did not have to do that.” 

With a decade of experience under their belt, “The High Curbs” understands how hard it is for a band to get shows, which Moreno said they continue to struggle with as a Latino-fronted act trying to make it in the music industry. 

Inland Empire’s The High Curbs are featured on the Latino Fronted Indie playlist curated by their frontman Ed Moreno. Photo courtesy of Ed Moreno.

The Anglo music industry hasn’t always been kind to Latino artists, and Happy Daps is a promotional tool to help others, especially now that the scene and the music industry as a whole are becoming more inclusive. 

“The music industry has told me ‘you’re hard to market,’ like ok, that’s bullshit. There is a following, and they like what we’re doing… now the hip thing to be is to be Latino,” says Moreno. “But also, we don’t just be a fucking trend that dies off, and you just can’t deny the talent; it’s undeniable, and there’s still a lot of work to be done.”

Despite the music industry and local scenes becoming more inclusive, and Latinos are at the top of the game right now with the biggest mainstream Latino Bad Bunny with 11 top 10 hits on Billboard Top 100, there are still people who have doubts and don’t believe in up and coming Latino artists. 

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Moreno threw a 10-year anniversary celebration for The High Curbs on Apr. 8, 2023, at the Observatory Santa Ana. “I’m gonna try to make it all Latino-fronted bands and to show all these promoters and the music industry that we’re here, and there’s no excuses, and what seemed like a gamble to a lot of people also it was like it’s a pretty big venue for all these bands. However, it still sold really well. We made it happen.” he says

The High Curbs frontman Ed Moreno headlining at Happy Daps Fest. Photo courtesy of Ed Moreno.

Currently, Moreno is planning Happy Daps Fest 2, and as bittersweet as it is, the budget won’t allow the lineup from the first fest because they have all grown so much since the first festival this past April. 

Singer Mark Perez from San Antonio band Floats also played at Happy Daps Fest, and he spoke of his experience and how much the fest has helped the bands that played that night.  

“Happy Daps has definitely shined even more awareness by providing and putting together an event showcasing Latino-fronted artists mainly in the SoCal area but even reaching out to friends like us and we’re from Texas, and that’s huge! To me and many others who see that, says and shows that we’re here and seen…” said Perez 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JFHu9-92g-8
Floats performing “Dancing With Our Feet”. Video by Vincent.

Happy Daps has curated a Spotify playlist for Latino-fronted indie bands called Latino Fronted Indie because of the overall lack of representation. Sketches, one of the bands that is on the playlist, talked about how important the playlist is for up-and-coming artists.  

“Happy Daps has been really helpful in getting smaller artists recognized through the playlist they curated. It’s a small yet big step for musicians that have little to no listeners, and providing that platform is great,” says Marcus and Sebastian from Sketches.

Marcus and Sebastian Felix from Sketches are on the Latino-fronted indie playlist. Photo courtesy of Marcus and Sebastian Felix.

Although Ed and Happy Daps are doing so much on their own for the Latino indie community, he says the work also lies on fans to support their local scene and to promote bands they like. 

“I guess there’s nothing that’s stopping them from doing the same thing; you can’t expect to be part of something if you’re not supporting that scene, but I think people need to really support their local scene and support one another and that’s really the only way we can uplift everything and everyone,” said Moreno.

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