Brothers Poncho Jr and Imanol Quezada have been performing for more than 10 years now, playing in buses and markets and at local parties in their native Coahuila, Mexico. But it wasn’t until last year that Los Dos Carnales got their big break.
The norteño group, comprised of the Quezada brothers as lead singers, Kevin Marquez and Armando Hernandez, were signed to regional Mexican label AfinArte last year, after being “discovered” by El Fantasma (also signed to AfinArte) who reached out to them in 2018 to collaborate.
“[El Fantasma] sent as a message on Instagram but we thought it was a fake account or something like that,” Poncho tells Billboard. “We responded and didn’t hear back from him for a while and I thought, ‘Oh well, this isn’t happening anymore.’ Then he wrote back and said he wanted to record our corrido ‘El Fue Arturo’ with us.”
It was then that El Fantasma introduced AfinArte to Los Dos Carnales’ music and subsequently, the label signed the group.
“It was such a special moment in our careers. When we heard AfinArte wanted to sign us, I started looking through their social media and realized we belong there,” says Poncho. “We are similar — because like us, they want to keep traditional regional Mexican sounds alive. We won’t let AfinArte down. We’re working hard.”
The hard work has paid off. Los Dos Carnales scored their first top 10 on the Regional Mexican Airplay chart (dated July 11) with “El Envidioso.” It also became the Mexican group’s first top 10 on any Billboard airplay. “That’s huge! We couldn’t believe it, honestly,” says Poncho. “We never imagined something like that could happen to us. People are accepting our very humble music.”
It’s their core norteño sound — made possible by an accordion, four-string bass guitar, bajo sexto (sixth bass) and drums — is what makes them distinctive in a crowded field of regional Mexican sounds. “We want for people to know that música norteña is still relevant today. There are many different styles now and we respect them but we want to make sure that we stand for what we are known for and will always defend: norteño.”
On July 10, Los Dos Carnales released their new album Al Estilo Rancheron, a 14-track set that includes corridos, romantic tunes and covers. “It was made with a lot of love and we hope people like it,” Imanol says.
Learn more about this week’s Latin Artist on the Rise below.
Name: Poncho Quezada Jr and Imanol Quezada
Age: Poncho (27) and Imanol (21)
Major Accomplishment: “The few accomplishments we have achieved, we’re very proud of them. This has been our dream since we were little. We’re just starting to grow. We’d say there are two important milestones. One, being on the Billboard charts. That’s huge! We couldn’t believe it, honestly. We never imagined something like that could happen to us. People are accepting our very humble music. The second important milestone is collaborating with El Fantasma. It’s pretty much what started it all and has helped us get to where we are.”
Recommended Song: “‘Vida Ventajosa’ is the song that opened many doors for us. It’s a corrido written by Imanol and it’s a nice song about our humble beginnings. We really did start from zero. But after listening to ‘Vida Ventajosa,’ we recommend to then listen to “El Envidioso” because that’s like the sequel.”
What’s Next: “We will continue to work hard and keep writing. We’re really hoping this pandemic passes so that we can go play in the U.S. soon. We haven’t had the opportunity to perform there yet. Our hopes are to become a norteño group that transcends generations — like Los Invasores de Nuevo León and Los Cadetes de Linares.”