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Como Somos

Como Somos: Hijos De Muñoz Learned To Play Songs Their Father Loves, Now They Can’t Stop Getting Booked

Three teenage brothers have gained recognition around Oak Cliff for playing traditional dance music beloved by new and older generations.
By Stephanie Salas-Vega |
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Hijos de Muñoz, a group of current and former Sunset High School students, began playing their father’s music and have found a home in venues as varied as their high school to late-night bars. Courtesy Hijos de Muñoz

In the crowded, fluorescent Sunset High School cafeteria, students crowd around purple cafeteria tables—but not for lunch.

Girls, some wearing the purple school colors and homecoming mums, hold each other and dance across the cafeteria floor, a bouncy two-step dance associated with traditional Mexican rhythms. The other students and administrators watch where the music is coming from, and it’s a view they’ve seen before.

It’s not Sunset’s official Homecoming dance nor a pep rally, it’s a concert by corrido trio Hijos De Muñoz, who are brothers, current and former Sunset students, and microcelebrities among their teenage classmates.

Joemanuel Muñoz, 18, Joel Muñoz, 17, and Jomark Muñoz, 16, perform covers of corrido and dance music that range from modern tracks, oldies, and all-time favorites. While corridos are known mostly as music for drunken nights and sentimental tunes for the older generations, Hijos De Muñoz have managed to move the Gen Z crowd. They’re played gigs at local bars, businesses, and even funerals, but the demand for them to play at Sunset and house parties is always high.

Sitting at the dinner table in their West Dallas home, the brothers look at each other with smiles on their faces as they try to remember how long they’ve been performing. They try to complete each other’s sentences and do the math in their head, based on what grade they were in or when their father first picked up the guitar. They settle with around five or six years.

Recollections of their first gig at a recreation center on Mother’s Day and playing late nights at bars all trace back to their father, Jose Muñoz, who is their No. 1 motivator, inspiration, and reason for being where they are now. Their band name even translates to “Sons of Muñoz” and serves as an ode to Jose, who taught the brothers how to play guitar and expanded their music catalog.

For the brothers, it’s not so much the fame but the reactions. They want to make people dance and they want to entertain, even if it means only having a few hours of sleep before school.

After a weekend full of gigs, we spoke to Hijos De Muñoz about their family band, corrido music and how they plan to show the world who they are. Plus, a playlist of 10 Spanish tracks they love.

Who the heck are you guys?

Joemanuel: We’re a local band here in Dallas. We started going at it a good three years ago. We started practicing more often when we seen us getting booked. We just really want to change something so we’re going to put all we got. 

I grew up in a family of musicians and was a musician myself. I grew up watching my family play instruments and have band practice, which inspired me and my career. What inspired you guys to start a band?

Joemanuel: A lot of people say they’ve been wanting to sing since they were born, but we really just got into it 10 years ago. We seen my dad playing guitar, just doing the basics. We just picked it up. We seen him practicing so we did the same thing. He would try to teach us but once he taught us everything he knew, we just went our own way. We don’t have uncles that play, no musicians in the family. We just picked it up randomly.

My dad said he always wanted to learn how to play guitar since he was little. He said it wasn’t as easy just searching up a video and getting into. He had to open up and look at different talents so people could teach him. He got taught probably a good eight years ago by this homeless guy. He just started playing guitar and, at first, that’s all he’d do. Then, the same guy that told him to play told him, ‘If you want to play? You need to start singing. Now you got to look for a singer hard.’

That’s when my dad started singing a little bit, when I was little. I would sing a little bit but just when I was really little; I don’t even remember singing. I started getting into it when my dad did that. I would sing for him, but there was nothing. I mean, we didn’t think we were going to get here and we’re not even nowhere to say “here”. We’re really just starting but we’re ready to keep on going and see where this takes us.

I felt the same way about my family because we were all in orchestra! I thought it was really interesting that a trio of brothers in their teens are performing corrido music. The genre has themes of romance and heartbreak, but also it dates back to the Mexican Revolution and speaks of oppression and “vaquero” lifestyles. What spoke to you about corridos?

Joemanuel: When we started playing, we would just listen to this one artist named Ariel Camacho. We learned a couple songs up by him, but my dad was like, “Nah, like, there’s money there but there’s money a little bit everywhere.” There are bars [where] you’ll always find old people who like old songs. They don’t like the new ones they just like old songs. Then you’ll find new people that just like the new songs and stuff like that. People that just wanted to dance. Some people just want to sit down and listen to music in the background. He started opening us up to different genres like a little bit of dancing music, some cumbia, more corridos and better corridos that can’t be forgotten, like everybody has to know. So, he put us on good music. He still does to this day. He sent us a song he wants us to learn so we’re going to try. It’s a whole different style, but we’re going to try it.

Many people might associate corridos as music from older folks, but you just played a gig at Sunset High School, and you had a crowd of students dancing and partying. It’s something that even speaks to young people. What do you guys think?

Joemanuel: We did a couple house parties. Everybody goes there for parties, like Halloween parties and all types of parties. We would be like, “Man, we need to put ourselves out there.” We would always be kind of shy because, yeah, there’s going be a lot of people who will like it, but there are a lot of haters too. We went at it and they liked it. From there we did another party and they also liked it. At school, that was all the talk we heard last year. “When are you going to do another party? When are you going to sing?”

We kind of build it up at our school. Us three, we really go at it when we perform there. We’re dancing and moving around, so we try to move the energy. Sometimes, we don’t have the energy in us, and I will always try to snap back into it. It’d be hard, though. Sometimes the little kids get tired of a song real quick, and you have to learn a new one to keep them interested, but we’re happy that our school loves us. A lot of people say their town don’t like them, but I think Dallas has been showing us a lot of love.

We like seeing young kids like us jam out to us. There would be a lot of – not show-offs – but people who put themselves over people. Then there would be show-off that just go with the music. It’s just all types all types of people. We be getting hyped when we see people our age turn-up to us. There’s a lot of haters out there, but there’s also a lot of people who love out there – love all types of music.

Is corrido big in your family?

Joemanuel: To be honest, no. My grandma likes to dance, she could stay dancing. She always listened to cumbia. She’s from Tamaulipas and my mom is from San Luis [Potosí] — Rio Verde. They kind of just went with the genre. Back in 2012, they were listening to duranguense and what music was popping. I don’t think we listened to corridos. I have one tío but he would just get drunk to Vincente Fernandez. That, and the radio when one or two corridos would pop up, but that’s about it. My dad, he listens to a little bit of everything – country, English music, Spanish music. He has a good taste in music.

Joel: Yeah, he never listens to the same thing. He always switches it up on our way to road trips or anything like that. Like, three types of genres from here to the mall. It’s pretty fun, though, because he always knows what to play.

How do you handle being musicians and performing so often while still being in high school?

Joel: School is really easy. You just go to school and when you come home, you play on your instrument and catch up. Well, I take a fat nap because I be working all weekend, so I’m tired.

Joemanuel: When I was in school, the hardest part about being a musician and being in school was the next day. Waking up. We be getting really worked out when we’re out performing. We performed at this bar on Friday from 1 a.m. to 3 a.m., and then our other friends played from 3 a.m. to 5 a.m. at the same bar.

Joel: He stayed for our set, so we stayed for his.

Can you relate to the music you perform? Do you think it speaks to you?

Joel: When people write corridos they’re more personal, so they write them toward themselves, like what they’re going through. They do relate to us a little bit. Little things here and there, makes you fall in love more with the songs and they connect to you.

Where do you go from here?

Joemanuel: I think the first next step is to start recording and uploading to YouTube and things like that. We’ve got a lot of stuff coming. We want to get into merchandise. We even want to do YouTube vlogs. We’ll be seeing a lot of YouTube vlogs and its usually more like people staying home and trying to make a vlog but it doesn’t come on right. We have a lot of content, we just out with our day. We’re usually busy every day.

Joel: And actually get connected to our people and the people who watching us. Try to build a connection between us so they can feel safe with us, listen to our music and enjoy us. People just know us because we play but they don’t really know who we are or what we do. But what we do is we can fit

Author

Stephanie Salas-Vega

Stephanie Salas-Vega

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