Latino USA

Posts Tagged ‘Music’

Kumbia Queers: Cumbia Is More Punk Than Punk

Six girl punk rockers got together one day and decided to start a side project, just for fun.

But Ali Gua Gua, the lead vocalist, refused to start another rock band. She believed rock had gotten too fancy, too conservative, and too macho.

So they decided to go form a cumbia cover band and call themselves las Kumbia Queers. Latino USA interviewed vocalists Ali Gua Gua and Juana Chang.

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Kumbia Queers vocalists Ali Gua Gua (left) and Juana Chang (right). Ali and Juana also play the charango and the guiro, typical cumbia instruments. Photo by Flikr user Montecruz.

They released their first album, Kumbia Nena! in 2007, queering up classics like The Smith’s ‘Lovesong’ (‘Kumbia Dark’), Black Sabbath’s Iron Man (‘Chica de Metal’ or ‘Iron Girl’) and even Madonna’s ‘La Isla Bonita’ (“La Isla con Chicas”, or ‘The Island With Chicks’).

The side project became a hit in Latin America, and their interest in cumbia just kept growing. For their second album, La gran estafa del tropi-punk (‘The Great Swindle of Tropi-Punk’), the Kumbia Queers teamed up with Pablo Lescano, the “godfather” of Argentine cumbia villera, an urban style of cumbia born in the shantytowns of Buenos Aires. Lescano produced the album and mentored the Kumbia Queers in the ways of urban cumbia.

For their latest album, Pecados Tropicales (‘Tropical Sins’), they decided to go back to their DIY roots.

Like other queers before them, the Kumbia Queers have been out to disrupt the disruptors. They’ve gotten backlash from the very male-dominated Latin American rock community.

 

Kumbia Queers in concert. Photo by Flikr user Montecruz.

Kumbia Queers in concert. Photo by Flikr user Montecruz.

 

MAKING THEM ANGRY

“All the rockers started getting angry because we touched their precious The Cure or their precious Black Sabbath,” says Ali Gua Gua.  “In that way it’s good to find that playing cumbia is more punk than playing punk.”

They’ve also been booed off the stage with lesbophobic insults when opening for traditional cumbieros. But the Kumbia Queers thrive in the backlash. They’re used to being picked on for being different, queer, and the criticism fuels their punky spirit.

The Kumbia Queers took up the word queer as a rebellion against labels. But it’s not queer theory or queer issues that interest them. Politically, las chicas are very committed to changing the situation of women in Latin America. “I hope we encourage queer Latino women to do whatever they want to do,” says Ali Gua Gua.

In the US, different forms of cumbia play at parties and concert venues organized by queer Latinos. The Kumbia Queers’ message resonates with the queer Latino communities in California, Texas, Chicago and New York, where they visited on their 2014 US tour.

“We know it’s really hard for Latino people, they have to resist a lot,” says Juana Chang, vocalist and charango player. “People were really grateful for us being here because they had a little space of Latin Americanity.

Las Kumbia Queers are Ali Gua Gua and Juana Chang on vocals, Pat Combat-Rocker on the bass, Flor Linyera on the keyboard, Ines Pektor on the drums and Pilar Zombie on the guitar. Ali and Juana also play the charango and the guiro.

Photo courtesy of Kumbia Queers website

 

 

 

Snow In Africa: A Puerto Rican’s Musical Dream

By the time he was twenty-one, J.T. Lopez had the kind of success many musicians can only dream of. He was a highly sought after session player in his native Puerto Rico, playing gigs and touring with some of the island’s top musicians. But he gave it all up to follow his own beat.

Photo by Maria Loewenstein

Get a peek of J.T.’s new band, Snow In Africa.

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photo_dbockDiane Bock produces stories for public radio. She’s inspired by this quote from Pete Seeger: “The key to the future of the world is finding the optimistic stories and letting them be known.”

 

 

DJ Orion: Using Tech To Bring Culture To Life

DJ Orion is half-Colombian, half-Puerto Rican and was born in Panama to military parents. You can hear him spinning live throughout the Latino USA SXSW show. In this segment, he talks to host Maria Hinojosa about his multicultural musical influences, how technology empowers his art, and even teaches her how to spin!

 

 

Photo by Wikimedia commons user Moehre1992

 

Immigration Status Can’t Stop La Santa Cecilia

La Santa Cecilia have been making waves in the Latin alternative music scene since the release of their debut album last year, Treinta Dias (“30 Days”). From their collaboration with Elvis Costello to the powerful voice of lead singer Marisol Hernandez, their eventual Grammy win was all but inevitable. But one song in particular had special meaning to the band. “Ice/El Hielo” is about the struggles immigrants must go through, and the fears they face once they make it to the U.S.–immigrants like the band’s own undocumented accordion player, Pepe Carlos. Reporter Valerie Hamilton spoke to the band members to find out how they use their platform to speak openly about what being undocumented means in this country.

 

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Valerie. photoValerie Hamilton is an independent producer. She reports on issues on and around the U.S-Mexico border for U.S. and European public media. She’s based in Los Angeles.

 

 

 

Photo courtesy of the artist

 

 

A TASTE OF HELADO NEGRO

Ecuador-via-Florida musician Roberto Carlos Lange, aka Helado Negro, just released his latest record Invisible Life. Hear about his family life, musical philosophy, and meanings behind the new tunes in his own words.


Click here to download this week’s show. 

HeladoNegroHeadshot From the room he grew up in, in South Florida, to his apartment in Savannah, where that restless tropical silent partner, humidity, continued to creep in, and now in his current home in Brooklyn – Roberto Lange of Helado Negro has never not made music. Tones whittled out of these places, memories, time and all its impressions, Invisible Life is Helado Negro’s third full-length album. Like captured light, it is a reflection of Helado Negro’s refined love affair with synthesis, sampling, and his own strengthening voice.

HAITIAN IMMIGRANT SONG

A young immigrant deported to Haiti finds new life as a musician back in his old home. Reporter Reese Erlich brings us this story.


Click here to download this week’s show. Image courtesy of Facebook

Reese Erlich is a best-selling book author and freelance journalist who writes regularly for the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. Radio, Marketplace Radio and National Public Radio.

ALT. LATINO: ADIOS AL 2012

NPR’s Alt. Latino cohost Felix Contreras wants you to rock out to Latino music as 2012 wraps up. He shares some of his favorite tracks of the year with host Maria Hinojosa.


Click here to download this week’s show.

Felix Contreras is a reporter and producer for NPR’s Arts Desk specializing in coverage of jazz, world music, and Latino arts and culture. He is also the co-host of Alt.Latino, NPR’s new web based program about Latin Alternative music A part- time jazz musician, Contreras plays Afro Cuban percussion with various jazz and Latin bands. He is a recovering television journalist who has worked for both NBC and Univision.

Rhode Island Bolivians? Presente

When the first Bolivian immigrants arrived to Providence, Rhode Island, they also brought the Festival de la Virgen de Urcupiña. The celebration that began with a few families in the basement of a church 23 years ago is now joined by thousands of others who engage in the indigenous dances and Andean rhythms in the heart of the city. Andres Caballero reports.

Click here to download this week’s show. Image courtesy of the Urcupiña Festival Providence 2012 facebook page.

Andrés Caballero has been an active contributor to Latino USA for more than a year. He holds a M.S. in Journalism from the Columbia University School of Journalism, and a B.S. in Political Science from Notre Dame De Namur University. He covers issues that affect Latinos across the U.S., and he has also contributed to New America Media, the Hispanic Link News Service in Washington D.C., and El Tecolote in San Francisco.

The Miseducation of Ana Tijoux

French-Chilean rapper Ana Tijoux talks to Latino USA producer Nadia Reiman about how politics and books have influenced her music, and about what she wants to contribute to the South American hip hop music scene.


Click here to download this week’s show. See below for Ana Tijoux’s video, “Shock,” for Puente Arizona.

Nadia Reiman has been a radio producer since 2005. Before joining the Latino USA team, Nadia produced for StoryCorps for almost five years, and her work there on 9/11 stories earned her a Peabody. She has also mixed audio for animations, assisted on podcasts for magazines, and program managed translations for Canon Latin America. Nadia has also produced for on None on Record editing and mixing stories of queer Africans, and worked on a Spanish language radio show called Epicentro based out of Washington DC. She graduated from Kenyon College with a double major in International Studies and Spanish Literature.

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