Q&A: “Selenabrating” Cultura

Arts
“Selenabration”, the 4th annual Sonido Clash tribute night, expands to Oakland on Saturday April 14th. San Jose’s event takes place on Friday April 13th. Photo Credit: Gabe Nuanez

A First-Hand Look at the 4th Annual Tribute Party Celebrating the Sounds and Soul of Selena

Arturo Hilario
El Observador

Soon a Latinx icon will mesh with local icons, and Cumbia music will fuse with new world sounds. For two nights only.

The 4th Annual Selena Tribute Party, put on by San Jose’s cultural arts collective Sonido Clash, is expanding for this year, with two events planned on April 13th and 14th, 2018. One will take place where previous iterations have been held, The Back Bar, while a new location, Oakland’s Starline Social Club, will be extending the festivities to the East Bay. According to the group, the Oakland event expands into their “second home”.

As in past Selena tribute nights, the group has curated unique representations of not only the Latinx community, but that of the rest of the world as well. With this year’s entry into the celebration of Selena Quintanilla’s life, her influences, and those influenced by her, there is DJ’s, cover bands, all bound by the love of music and the emotions surrounding her legacy.

Some of the musical acts this year include Selenamos, a tribute band which includes members of both La Santa Cecilia and Chicano Batman, and exclusive DJ’s and MC’s at each venue.

We had a chance to speak to some of these guest performers and talent for the Selenabration, including DJ Sizzle (Official Selena Set), Chrisol (Selenamos), Claudia Candelas (host), Que Madre (Official Selena Set), DJ Sizzle, Chrisol Lomeli (Selenamos) and Fela Kutchi (host).

What would you say is the reason you became interested in music? What influenced you to pursue it? Is there a moment, a specific memory or time in your life where you realized you wanted to start making music?

DJ Sizzle Fantastic: I truly feel music just runs through my veins. I come from a family where music was always present. Whether we were celebrating or mourning, music was always there to help us process. Since as long as I can remember, both my parents have always instilled the love for music in me. Naturally, becoming a DJ wasn’t a too far-fetched idea since I already had the love for music at a young age, however; the full focus on the craft didn’t come until later when I decided to really focus on the things that made me happy, in this case, being music.

Chrisol: My interest in music stems from an innate passion that I’ve had since I was a kid to perform. I’ve always loved to sing and worked really hard to hone it in and started writing in middle school. Selenamos is a project that gives me a chance to pay tribute to an idol of mine that showed me it was possible to be a musician for a living. I was about 5 years old when I started understanding who she was, what she did, and from there my dream of being a professional singer was born

Claudia: I’ve always loved music from all kinds of genres. From 2pac to Intocable, and of course Selena!

Que Madre: I’ve always been into music. A lot of my music influence comes from my mom. She used to play typical Latin music on Sunday morning while cleaning such as Jose Jose and Juan Gabriel but would also listen to romanticas and Cumbia. When my mom moved here from Mexico my family moved to East Los Angeles, so oldies and Motown was a big influence in her life as well.

Fela Kutchi: My mom was a Prince junkie and my dad Prince’s bodyguard, so I was conceived by the love of Prince. So musica [is] in a way imbedded into my DNA. As I grew up my Uncle Quincy, a great saxophone player, shared his love of Jazz with me and my grandmother at the age of 5 bought me my 1st record, “SAY IT LOUD” by James Brown. I didn’t know I wanted to participate in musica when growing up, but I felt very connected since birth to the rhythms of Funk, Soul, Jazz, and the free spirit of those genres. Like I always knew I wanted to be an entertainer, but it was until I saw M.I.A. for the first time in the 8th grade that I decided I wanted to make musica.

How would you describe your music? How do other people tend to describe it?

DJ Sizzle Fantastic: The music/music playlists I create are nostalgic, feel good music. The type of music that bring back memories. I make my mixes with my parents, my family, and friends in mind. Many of my mixes are curated with songs that many of us grew up listening to whether at family gatherings, at parties, or out in the streets of our beautiful barrios. You can hear a song in mixes I create that automatically take you back into a childhood memory whether that’d be one of a cousin’s quince or one of your parents bumping it on a weekend morning letting you know it was time to get up and clean.

Chrisol: Selenamos is that the band is a collection of musicians with our own projects who come together to perform music that people love. Each of us have a different sound apart from this group but Cumbia is a common denominator. What Selenamos does as a unit is perform the music to the best of our abilities; never to impersonate. What we do as a tribute is unique. We take her medleys and throw in nuances of what we feel Selena would appropriate into her music if she were around today.

Que Madre: I would describe my music as being representative and showcasing where I grew up (Boyle Heights/East Los Angeles). I feel like the music I choose to play is fighting against the erasure of our culture, history and music.

Fela Kutchi: I’d say it’s very Afro Futuristic Funk, heavy on the percussions. If it got a strong conga and inspires you to move your hips, I’m playing it.

You’re part of the Sonido Clash Selenabration, what opinion do you have on Selena, were you a fan growing up?

DJ Sizzle Fantastic: I grew up in Mexico, where Selena was pretty big, so yes, I was a fan as a four-year-old little brown grrrl. Selena was definitely a pioneer for representation of young Latinx womxn. She was groundbreaking in many ways and just such a powerful mujer at such a young age. She was definitely someone I looked up to as a young grrrl, and still someone I admire as an adult.

Chrisol: Selena is the epitome of authenticity. Her legacy resonates so much not only because of the music but because of the person she was. She was genuine, and it was evident in every outfit, photo, performance, and interview. I was as obsessed with her when I was five as I am now.

Claudia: Growing up I always loved listening to Selena’s music. She was a woman who was a role model to so many young girls and she continues to be one. Selena paved the way for Mexican American artists and for women in music. And of course, I absolutely loved her style and her confidence. She could rock any outfit!

Que Madre: Yes! I was 7 years old when the movie came out and I distinctly recall going to the movie theater with my family and watching the film. When I got a bit older my mom bought me her cd and I would listen to it all the time in elementary and middle school.

Fela Kutchi: I love Selena! And growing up she was such an important pop star to me and my older sister. We used to listen to Wild 107.7 and she was in heavy rotation. I remember seeing “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom” music video for the first time and she was so cool to me, and she had this long curly hair like mine in that video, it was awesome!

Do you have a favorite Selena song? Anything that’s a favorite karaoke tune?

DJ Sizzle Fantastic: My top 3 include: “No Me Queda Mas”, “Si Una Vez”, and “Cobarde”. All three of these were played almost daily by my Mom and Tias when I was growing up, who were clearly coping with some sort of heartbreak, all good though, we all heal and process different ways. I’m also a really big fan of Selena’s disco medleys which include: “I Will Survive”, “Funky Town”, “Last Dance”, “Do the Hustle”, and “On the Radio” (a personal favorite of mine). Although not original tracks by her, her renditions of the songs are just fantastic, and get me dancing every single time I play them.

Chrisol:  I have more than one favorite, but each is for a different reason. My favorite to perform is “La Carcacha” because the band kills it when we’re on stage and I really get caught up in the moment. My favorite to listen to is “No Quiero Saber” because it’s so deliciously 90s. My go to Karaoke track would be “Tus Desprecios”.

Claudia: I love the Cumbia medley she performs live. It’s a mixture of some awesome classics with her own twist. Love it!

Que Madre: To be honest, all of Selena’s songs are bangers and karaoke hits. My favorite is “Techno-Cumbia”.

Fela Kutchi:  I have so many but Dreaming really holds a special place in my heart. I remember listening to that song and would look out my bedroom window into the night sky be crying singing along with her pretending to be singing this to my imaginary boyfriend. I had a cassette tape with all my favorite songs from the radio recorded and Dreaming was one of them and so I would play out that song and fantasy.

Any other artist(s) on the lineup you’re looking forward to hearing?

DJ Sizzle Fantastic: I’m excited to meet and finally hear DJ Lady Ryan live! I think she’s such a badass and a pioneer for womxn DJ’s everywhere. I’m also excited to share the stage with Selenamos, Que Madre, and of course, the homies of Sonido Clash.

Chrisol:  Everyone! It’s going to be a weekend packed with amazing music. We love sharing a bill with Que Madre and have played with her before in LA, but can’t wait to see what Lady Ryan, Sake One, Fela Kutchi and everyone will bring. It really is an honor to be in this lineup.

Claudia: I’m super excited for the event and all the artists participating!

Que Madre: All of them! I think Sonido Clash did an amazing job with the line-up with performers and DJs. But I am really excited to see Selenamos. I’ve seen them play before and the singers and musicians definitely do Selena justice and pay respects to Selena, in my opinion.

Fela Kutchi: Well the Sonido Clash crew is very legendary so def excited to see them as well as DJ Lady Ryan and Sake One who are some of Oakland’s best.

Why should folks come check out your set at Selenabration?

DJ Sizzle Fantastic: Because it’s gonna be F A N T A S T I C ! I sincerely love the bay area so much and every time I play up there, I try to give my absolute best. So, come dance and catch a vibe with me and I promise you I will do my best to keep you on the dance floor!

Chrisol:  The name Selenamos is a conjugation of Selena’s name into a verb that means “Let’s Selena,” and that’s what we invite her fans to do. Our shows are a chance for you to sing as loud as you want, and hear your favorite tracks played by a band made up of some of the best Cumbieros Los Angeles has to offer. We guarantee a set full of Selena’s hits and more surprises to keep you dancing all night!

Claudia: I’ll be hosting the event and I feel so excited and honored to be part of it! It’s going to be a fun event and I’ll bringing lots of energy!

Que Madre: Folks should come out if they like to dance and move their feet!

Fela Kutchi: I’m so flattered to be asked to participate and I’m really excited to celebrate the life and the musica of icon Selena.

HOW CAN THEY FIND YOU OR LISTEN/SEE MORE OF YOUR WORK?

DJ Sizzle Fantastic: I’m an Undocu-DJ and community organizer, born en la Costa de Guerrero and raised in the beautiful barrio of Boyle Heights, California. Currently, I am a resident DJ at Chingona Fire, one of the largest Latina open mics in the country and curator of Cumbiatón, an emerging Cumbia and Afro-Latinx party paying homage to the cultura and musica de barrios. I hold DJ residencies in Los Angeles, CA and Seattle, WA. You can find me on Instagram @sizzle007 and soundcloud.com/djsizzle_007 to say up-to-date with my shows. For bookings or contact info please e-mail: bookdjsizzle@gmail.com.

Chrisol:  Give us a Follow/Like on Instagram and Facebook to keep up with news and where we’re playing next! www.facebook.com/selenamosmusic, IG @selenamosmusic,  #LetsSelena.

Claudia: I’m a lifestyle blogger and you can check out my Instagram page @ClaudiaCandelas and blog www.claudiacandelas.com.

Que Madre: They can find me in instagram at @que.madre or @chulitavinylclub. They can also listen to some music on my soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/que_madre.

Fela Kutchi: Follow me on instagram to see what’s going on in my creative life @ambr33zyba and www.soundcloud.com/ambreezyba for all ear candy.

Selenabration will include 2 rooms of live music, DJs, live art, Selena look-alike contests, (and much more) in both San Jose and Oakland. More info and tickets can be found at selenabrationsj.eventbrite.com and selenabrationoak.eventbrite.com.

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