Credit: La Máquina

The Festival Salvadoreñisimo, Sept. 10 at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds, should spark a sense of nostalgia for El Salvador natives. For others, the festival is a broad introduction to Salvadoran culture. Among the scheduled performers is the 16-member group La Máquina, or The Machine. The El Salvador-based group has been pumping out dance hits since it formed in 1994; the next year, it was named best new group in that nation. Nearly 30 years later, fans have made La Máquina one of the top tropical music groups in their home country. 

We chatted with lead singer Wilfredo España, known for his extravagant costumes and megawatt smile.

Q: Tell us how you started out in music.

A: I come from a humble family. But everything turned around when my brother gave me a “stick guitar” as a gift when I was very young. Since then, I knew I wanted to represent my country differently by breaking [away] from a traditional style. 

Q: How do you represent the Salvadoran community in the U.S.?

A: Our goal has always been to transmit the sense of joy and happiness that characterizes Salvadorans. Our [music] allows us to motivate and encourage those Salvadorans who have had to immigrate … by offering them a little bit of our country’s flavor.

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Q: How has La Máquina’s style changed over the years?

A: We have adapted the style to a more modern one, always leaving a Salvadoran touch in what we do. For example, our latest albums have original songs dedicated to El Salvador’s traditional food, beverages and culture. The festival … will make the Salvadoran community from the DMV area want to dance and sing. 

Check out La Máquina’s website at lamaquinasv.com. For more details on the festival, go to festivalsalvadoreno.com

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Click to read this story in Spanish.

This story appears in the September/October issue of Bethesda Magazine.