Helado Negro

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Helado Negro
Portrait of Helado Negro by Anna Groth-Shive 2018.jpg
Background information
Birth nameRoberto Carlos Lange
Florida, United States
GenresLatin, Folk, experimental, electronic
InstrumentsVocals, Guitar, Synthesizer, DAW, Sampler
Years active2009–present
LabelsRVNG Intl.

Roberto Carlos Lange, better known by his stage name Helado Negro, is an American musician. In 2019 he was awarded a United States Artists Fellow in Music [1] and also the recipient of a 2019 Grants to Artists award in Music from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts [2]. In 2015 he received a Joyce Foundation award.[3]

A South Florida native, born to Ecuadorian immigrants and based in Brooklyn, Roberto Carlos Lange's upbringing provides essential elements to his songwriting, including his consistently bilingual lyrics in English and Spanish. Lange's music under the moniker Helado Negro can be characterized as lyrically personal and political avant pop music. Through his work, Lange has cultivated an untraditional approach to song-craft that places his voice on an adventurous musical impulse without shying from familiar pop appreciation.

Helado Negro is now signed to and released his latest album "This Is How You Smile" through RVNG Intl., a Brooklyn-based music institution. This Is How You Smile received an 8.5 rating and Best New Music from Pitchfork.

Early life[edit]

The son of Ecuadorean immigrants, Helado Negro (Roberto Carlos Lange) was born in South Florida in 1980.[4] He grew up in Lauderhill and Davie.[5]

As a high school student during the early 1990s, Roberto Carlos Lange would stay up late watching "Liquid Television" on MTV. Intrigued by the experimental videos and animation he saw there, he "was fascinated by the mystery of how they were made, and was curious as to how to make them."[6]

In 1999 he attended the Savannah College of Art and Design to study Computer Art and Sound Design. His sound studies focused on installation, performance and experimental art. During his time in Savannah, he participated in experimental sound and art shows, and he began to develop his musical work by purchasing an MPC sampler to create music. Visually[7] He graduated college in 2003 with a B.F.A. in Computer Art from the Savannah College of Art and Design [8]

He began releasing music in 2002 under several alias' and collaborative configurations. [9] He initially made instrumental, sample-based soundscapes under a variety of names: La Muerte Blanca, Boom & Birds, Epstein. These collages were full of childlike surrealism, collisions of sixties psychedelia and cumbia rhythms. [10]


Helado released his first full-length album in 2009 titled Awe Owe.[11]

In 2010, Helado released an EP titled Pasajero.[12]

Helado released his second full-length album in 2011 titled Canta Lechuza.[13]

In 2012, Helado released the first of a three part EP, titled Island Universe Story - One.[14]

Helado released his third full-length album in 2013 titled Invisible Life.[15] Helado released the second Island Universe Story EP in 2013.[14] In 2014, Helado released his fourth full-length album titled Double Youth.[16] The third EP in Helado's three-part Island Universe Story series was released in 2014.[14]

In 2015, Helado released the single "Young, Latin and Proud" along with an animated-visual and lyric video. Lange describes the song as “It was as if I was singing my 6-year-old self a lullaby... It’s about feeling a sense of pride and self-confidence, understanding that you’re born into something and it’s alright to feel good about it. Stereotypes and contradictions are built into identity and I think those are a strong current in both Latino and black identity in the U.S. today."[17]

In 2016, Helado released his fifth full-length album titled Private Energy.[18][19] In this record, Helado exposes his vulnerabilities, stating "There’s so much that is special [and] fragile about us... We’re vulnerable and scared to share with people. I’m just sharing my own vulnerable shit. The hardest part is talking to somebody else about it. I’m the worst person to sum things up with words but the best [way] to sum it up is with music, you know?” [17]

Visual and Sound Art[edit]

In 2007 Lange collaborated with visual artist David Ellis to create Trash Talk for a Christian Marclay curated show at the ICA Philly. Sonic trash bags by David Ellis rattle and bump like a percussion team. Trash Talk, 2007. Garbage bags, cans, bottles, cardboard, plastic, paper, aluminum, tin, foam, wire, hardware, and electronics. Sequence composed in collaboration with Roberto Lange. [20] Together they collaborated on works that featured at Zoo Art Fair, NADA Art Fair, and Roebling Hall. Some pieces include: "All Purpose Primer" 2007 "Trash Talk" 2007 "Hell's Angel" 2008 and "Liberty"

The two's collaboration's extended into video as well with Lange contributing the sonic score to several of Ellis' visual motion paintings; these pieces were created on site including a commission by the clothing retailer Theory to create new works of art. Lange would sample and manipulate sound as it was being generated acoustically from Ellis' movement and incidental sound while painting.[21]

In 2009 Lange scored the collaborative work by Blu and Ellis called "Combo"

In 2011 Lange contributed a site-specific sound sculpture called "HVAC Music Box" for the "Sequence of Waves" group show at Saint Cecilia's Convent in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. [22] The HVAC Music Box is a piece that uses the idea of an HVAC unit as a resonator to circulate the sound of music boxes that are activated by viewers. The composition in the music box is an original piece that is on a continuous loop that is only advanced by turning the knobs. This is a manual kinetic sculpture. The sculpture was made for a site-specific group show called Sequence of Waves that was installed at the St. Cecilia Convent in Greenpoint, NY for one day only.

He was commissioned by Flux Projects to create a week-long site-specific installation that involved sound in a public space. The piece he created was called "Sounding Up There". [23]

Notable events[edit]

In July 2017, Helado performed an NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert. It is posted on the NPR Music YouTube channel which has over 1.2 million subscribers. He performed four songs: "Transmission Listen", "Young, Latin and Proud", "Run Around" and "It's My Brown Skin" accompanied by a 5-piece band consisting of drums, two saxophones, violin, synthesizer and Helado singing and playing guitar.[24]


Studio albums

  • Awe Owe (2009, Asthmatic Kitty)
  • Canta Lechuza (2011, Asthmatic Kitty)
  • Invisible Life (2013, Asthmatic Kitty)
  • Double Youth (2014, Asthmatic Kitty)
  • Private Energy (2016, Asthmatic Kitty)
  • This Is How You Smile (2019, RVNGIntl.)


  • Island Universe Story - One (2012, Asthmatic Kitty)
  • Island Universe Story - Two (2013, Asthmatic Kitty)
  • Island Universe Story - Three (2014, Asthmatic Kitty)
  • Island Universe Story - Four (2018, RVNGIntl.)


  1. ^ https://www.unitedstatesartists.org/fellow/helado-negro/
  2. ^ https://www.foundationforcontemporaryarts.org/recipients/roberto-carlos-lange
  3. ^ http://www.joycefdn.org/news/2015-joyce-awards-announced
  4. ^ http://www.joycefdn.org/staff/helado-negro-and-the-st-paul-chamber-orchestras-liquid-music-series
  5. ^ https://www.sun-sentinel.com/entertainment/music/sf-helado-negro-pamm-20150506-story.html
  6. ^ https://www.scad.edu/about/news-press-and-recognition/scad-alumnus-roberto-carlos-lange-makes-distinctive-visual-music
  7. ^ https://www.connectsavannah.com/savannah/shiny-happy-people/Content?oid=3164782
  8. ^ https://www.scad.edu/about/news-press-and-recognition/scad-alumnus-roberto-carlos-lange-makes-distinctive-visual-music
  9. ^ https://www.discogs.com/artist/215813-Roberto-Carlos-Lange?filter_anv=0&type=Credits&page=2
  10. ^ https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/03/18/helado-negros-new-songs-bask-in-a-sense-of-discovery
  11. ^ Reber, Rebecca. "Helado Negro: Awe Owe". Pitchfork. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
  12. ^ Rojas, Yumber. "Helado Negro renueva el discurso de la música latina en Estados Unidos". El País. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
  13. ^ Contreras, Felix. "First Listen: Helado Negro, 'Canta Lechuza'". NPR Music. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
  14. ^ a b c Sherburne, Philip. "Helado Negro Island Universe Story: Selected Works". Pitchfork. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
  15. ^ Kivel, Adam. "Helado Negro – Invisible Life". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
  16. ^ Geffen, Sasha. "Helado Negro: Double Youth". Pitchfork. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
  17. ^ a b Fintoni, Laurent. "How Helado Negro Reinvented Himself By Embracing His Latino American Identity". Fader. Retrieved 9 April 2018.
  18. ^ Exposito, Suzy. "Review: Helado Negro's 'Private Energy' Is a South Beach 'Pet Sounds'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
  19. ^ Contreras, Felix. "Review: Helado Negro, 'Private Energy'". NPR Music. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
  20. ^ https://www.theartblog.org/2007/09/weekly-update-icas-shows-noisy-and-still/
  21. ^ https://archive.nytimes.com/query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage-9B0DE2DE153EF930A15750C0A96E9C8B63.html
  22. ^ http://rhizome.org/editorial/2011/feb/01/sequence-waves/
  23. ^ https://www.artsatl.org/a-visit-to-roberto-carlos-langes-serene-audio-sculpture-sounding-up-there-the-latest-from-flux-projects/
  24. ^ "Helado Negro: Tiny Desk Concert". NPR.org. Retrieved 2018-04-09.