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Latin Music Goes Boom

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Today we're tracing the story of how Latin music became as popular as American pop music, all through the eyes of Isabela Raygoza. Isabela is a music journalist from Tijuana and San Diego whose career very closely paralleled the boom in Latin music that's happened over the past decade.

Back in the day, when Latin stars wanted to cross over into pop music, they would have to start singing in English. Nowadays, you have music icons crossing over the other way: singing in Spanish.

About the Show:
“Only Here” is about the unexplored subcultures, creativity and struggles at the U.S.-Mexico border. The KPBS podcast tells personal stories from people whose lives are shaped by the tension reverberating around the wall. This is a show for border babies, urban explorers or those who wonder what happens when two cultures are both separated and intertwined.

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All right, so I'm going to play you some songs and I just want to hear your reaction to them.

This was like in 1992, my parents were working at a flea market And it was just one of the songs that was always on repeat and I was just really fascinated by it.

And I was just a kid and seeing like. And I thought it was just like the coolest music ever. aesthetically like awesome, but also hardcore and also like melodically, it really did change my perspective on just what, like a regular pop song could sound like. It was mind blowing at the time.

For those of you who aren't familiar, that was November rain by guns and roses. I'm gonna play another one.

Well, whether you were into it or not, that was just the song that pretty much said West coast rap on the map. And, um, after that, I consequently became pretty obsessed with like Snoop Dogg and just listening to a doggy style and the chronic.

Everyone from like death row records and Tupac. So that was a song that basically was the gateway for me to get into West coast rap.

That was nothing but a G thing by dr Dre. I'm gonna play you one more, okay?

I was a child impersonator and Gloria Trevi was the artist that I would impersonate. My mom made me like a little costume with the glittery, like the holes in your pantyhose everywhere, the ripped shoes. And I also had like the long hair and the curly long hair, so when you would frizz it out again. Kind of did look like her.

So it's a little, it's a little embarrassing, but I mean, it's so like now, but it's, I mean, it is part of the, the formative years of me getting obsessed and in music

So that song was, it was my favorite and her most popular hit that kind of embodied that like right girl energy.

And that was Pelo Suelto by Gloria Trevi.

“Mi Gente” Starts

I'm Alan Lilienthal, and you're listening to Only Here, a KPBS podcast about unexplored subcultures, creativity, and conflict at the US Mexico border.

Today we're going to trace the story of how Latin music became as popular as American pop music. All through the eyes of Isabela Raygoza. Isabella is a music journalist from Tijuana and San Diego whose career very closely paralleled the boom in Latin music that's happened over the past decade.

Back in the day when Latin stars wanted to cross over, they would have to start singing in English.

Nowadays... you have music icons crossing over the other way- singing in Spanish. Like the Beyonce J Balvin collab you’re hearing now.

“Mi Gente” up (Beyonce Part)

Latin audiences keep growing, and musicians want to connect.

Drake “Mia”

Frank Ocean “Cayendo”

Cardi B “Ozuna”

Huge names… All singing in Spanish.

Super Bowl Halftime Show Open

Musicians like Bad bunny and J Balvin, who only sing in Spanish, performed at the 2019 Super Bowl alongside Shakira and JLo.

Shakira and Bad Bunny at Super Bowl

That would’ve been unheard of just a few years ago.

It's now completely normal to hear Spanish songs on American pop radio. Isabella witnessed and contributed to this transformation from the frontlines. She was the first person to write about J Balvin for rolling stone.

J Balvin “Rosa”

She writes for big music platforms like billboard, the Latin Grammys, and Remezcla to name just a few.

She’s now the Latin music editor at SoundCloud. Her path to being a real life music journalist though was long and windy. It all started with a deep love for music.

During our interview, Isabella was quarantined at her apartment in New York, and I was in a closet in San Diego. She’s obviously a huge fan of music, so I started the conversation by asking her if she ever played music.

I started playing at 16 1516 so I was a little later, I was already in high school and I went to a trip to Guadalajara with my grandmother for a month, and my parents were like, just go to Mexico to Guadalajara for like the whole summer because you're being a bad kid.

You're getting into trouble. So maybe getting away with do you some good. And I remember the, actually, the song that. Inspired me to want to play guitar was Maria , and it has this really beautiful melodic intro with nylon strings.

It was sort of the, the first song that also allowed me to appreciate Latin music that was new, uh, at that era. And wanted me to explore it a lot more like the rock and a spaniel, or like the alternative rock wave. So, um, I began to, I told my mom, Hey, when I get back to back home, uh, I know that my dad mentioned he, that he had a guy that taught guitar right.

Is there a way that maybe he can come by our booth, like we still worked at the flea market cause he will be a customer and maybe he can give me classes in exchange for some of the stuff that he buys from you guys anyways. And he's like, yeah, let me talk to your dad about that. And then he just started teaching me.

A lot of the vintage stuff more than anything because he can't, he, he's a lot older than my dad, so he started teaching me things like, like boleros and like even just like Jose Jose or like . So even just the music that I didn't want to learn, but I then became pretty knowledgeable of it because the guy taught me how to play it in high school.

Then I started learning with my friends and I started playing like Radiohead and Nirvana and smashing pumpkins and that kind of stuff.

Seems like from guns and roses to Gloria Trevi. It seems like you're someone with very diverse music tastes where you didn't really. Draw a clear line between Latin music and American popular music, you could say, which is becoming more and more normal today, but back then when you were younger, it wasn't that common

growing up at the flea market, it kind of.

A different precedent for me that, um, we would get music from everywhere at press. Not only just being at the flea market where I was exposed to just culture through, you know, like, uh, like sound systems playing there and like, people like doing little competitions with like musics and it was all from different artists, like American artists and also like Latin artists, but also just being close to the border where like.

Northern, yes, and tranches were very prominent at the time, but also just being so close to the border too, that, uh, you would get American music very accessible there. All the performers that were even ignore vine at that time was playing in Tijuana like a bunch of the times. I never went because I was a kid, but I remember a lot of the people that I knew at the time, I saw Nirvana at iguanas.

So it was just so common for us to kind of get the whole, like different hybridity with. Just, you know, the biculturalism and other other songs from like Latin America. I feel that it made me a lot more perceptive to appreciate that kind of diversity because I. Connected to it in a way that, um, it made me still feel close to even being like from California, like Southern California.

Cause that's where I also grew up in a lot, but also like just Mexico with having parents that are from into ranchera music. Um, so it was just all part of like this upbringing that I had.

And at some point you, you were never really planning on being a music journalist. Right. I know at some point when you were on your way to adulthood, you went to outside lands in the music festival in the Bay area. It seems like the way you got in there was a little bit unusual.

I was living in Berkeley. I was a student and undergrad at Berkeley. I, I felt like, what is the way that I can actually go into this festival and not like sneak in? Like so obviously, but I was going to try to go in for free. And I said, okay, well I'm gonna try to interview an artist and say that I'm a journalist and that I work for the school newspaper.

And like maybe even just write the story and see if I can actually get it. And then the, in the school newspaper, so my intentions were real. Okay. So I'm going to be this journalist. I had like, I had like all my equipment, like my notepad and my recorder and everything. So I, I saw the person that seemed a bit more like.

Naive, I suppose to say like, Hey, well, I'm actually in a hurry. Can you please, uh, let me in immediately because I'm late for my interview with the vendor, Ben Hart. And then like, the guy was like, Oh yeah, sure. Go right ahead. And I was like, what? Like, that really worked like so smoothly. And, um, I definitely, um, I of course, didn't even know what the vendor Banhart or anything.

So. I ended up being in the front row to watch Manu chow, and then by the 10 that Radiohead was about to come up, who was the headliner? It started getting like super crowded, so I told the security guards, Hey, can you transfer me over? So I won't have to be like in the front row middle, which is a great spot to be in, but.

Uh, I ended up sort of benefiting from that because, um, once I ended up getting jumped over, I saw a way, like, wait a minute, the VAP is over here. So when no one was looking, I kind of made myself go into the VAP. And then I ran into the vendor Ben band, and I said, Oh my God, Hey, well, I'm gonna. So how, how can they interview the vendor?

Barnhart, I write for the newspaper and basically all these things that I wasn't even doing at the time. And then the guy was like, Oh, so would you like to have, um, um, the, our manager's number? So they gave me the, the manager's number and I called the manager and I asked to interview the vendor, Barnhart, and it was like, yeah, I actually, we have like an open spot because somebody canceled or whatever.

So I ended up actually interviewing the vendor Benhart. By, uh, by just, uh, trying to be in the festival in the first place.

The stars aligned

they really did at that time. Yeah.

Did he, so how did the interview go without having no experience being a journalist? How did he, how did that go?

I think it actually went really well because I already knew.
So much about his music. I was like, I was also kind of obsessed with him too. I didn't, and I also know how to like contain myself. I'm not going to like present myself. Like I am such a big fan. Like I was actually asking him questions like about, Hey, you started off as a freak folk artist, but like this album has a lot more ingredients and you even got a collaboration with who's an actor.

Like how did all that happen? Like how, and you're also an art student in San Francisco. And so even just like basic conversation or questions and he was just very much. Like, replying to me. Like if I was a person that had done his research on him, which I had as a fan. So if I were to be interviewing somebody else, I am sure that the experience wouldn't have gotten the same.

Um, I just had the fortunate, um, situation that one, I was a huge fan of him, that I wanted to speak with him in the first place and meet him and I already knew kind of a lot about his work.

So at that time, in 2006, uh, Latin music obviously didn't have anywhere near the reach it does today. I think there was starting to be more crossover with like Gasolina and stuff like that, but it was nowhere near the boom of the last few years.

How did your own tastes fit in with a larger culture in terms of Latin music and American pop music at that time?

What is interesting is that I actually didn't really know a lot about like the reggaeton boom that was happening. I mean, I did kind of like. On the larger scale, like Gasolina. I didn't obviously understand the entire scene of reggaeton with like the noise and Evie queen, and we seen a Yandle and that a Yankee and all of them.

I, for me, it was a little bit, um, I remember just hearing a lot like Elvis Crespo, like everything that we would hear at a quincenera or like . So like that kind of like party. So I actually, even if I heard Gasolina associated it in like the quinceanera wedding kind of circuits. So that's how I interpreted those huge relevant hits at that time.

Did you have any sense of how big Latin music would become?

Definitely not. Especially because my entire life I've always struggled to separate. My, not my, I'm not going to say my identity, but like my knowledge in perfecting a language like Spanish and English. And because I grew up speaking severely Spanglish.

Um, I went to school in elementary in both the, uh, the U S and in Mexico. So my syntax got extremely warped and. Even when I, um, became, uh, in high school I had already lost a lot of like the correct Spanish way of speaking because it got really mixed into English. So, um, for me it was always like, when I grew up, I did Def, even though for me, they were always one world, one reality, one existence.

I knew that in the larger. Scale. These were like two completely different worlds, and I really did try to make an effort to study abroad in Mexico city when I was an undergrad to actually get more acquainted with like the Mexican and Latin roots. That that I have, and also just taking the classes to speak it properly.

But then of course, being a student in Berkeley, um, and so that definitely still having, um, an outlet to continuing evolving my English. So I never really thought that, uh, to answer your question, what that, uh, Latin music would. Crossover into not only the American sphere, but like the global sphere

After Isabela’s serendipitous experience at Outside Lands, she still wasn't set on being a journalist. Initially, she was just stoked on the idea of going to shows for free, meeting her heroes and being able to talk to them about the music she loved so much. Her early years being surrounded by music at the flea markets in Tijuana really birthed in her an obsession with knowing everything you can know about an artist and what went into making a moment in music. Ironically though, having grown up on both sides of the border and constantly switching between English and Spanish is what almost kept her from following her passion.

I ended up. Uh, going into Berkeley as a math major, first of all, and the reason was because I was, like I mentioned, Spanglish was my first language and my biggest challenge was perfecting English and Spanish at the same time.

I felt like I was pretty weak in both when I speak conversationally a hundred percent. So I was always intimidated to speak my mind because I felt that the way I would convey it would be. Not the right way that I wanted to express it. So I started working with numbers and I got really good with numbers that I got accepted as as a math major until you see UC Berkeley.

But when I began taking the classes and then this whole outside lands festival event happened, and I was always just into music. I realized that even just living into Berkeley, it expand my horizon so much because I would always accustomed to like seeing the, the, the traditional thing that will happen if I stay in San Diego.

Like all my friends is like, have a baby, get married, like, you know, have a little bit of an education and just continue the cycle of being a family, a household wife. Right. And that was, that was my destiny. I actually believed that a hundred percent that that was going to be my destiny. I had a relationship for like three or four years when I was still a teenager.

And I remember that person telling me, Oh, I'm going to have so many babies with you. We're going to have an ignite. And I remember like crying at home to my mom and mom, I don't want to have it. I don't want to have kids, mom, like I don't want to have, like, especially in the ham kids, you know? And like when I went to Berkeley.

And then that was a, wait a minute, I'm not going to study math. I'm going to study whatever I want to do. So then I became like very, very, very, like, like mentally liberated. Just living in Berkeley from so many ways and, and even beyond, like music journalism. It was like something like, you know what? I'm like, Hey, we, we only live life once, right?

I'm not, not to have like a whole Yolo spirit or anything, but I figured that, why. Not do something that I'm like truly passionate about.

So music was the obvious path at this point, but there's a million possible jobs in music, and Isabella wasn't super clear yet on which one she wanted to follow. So she applied to a master's program in media studies at NYU and moved to New York.

While she was there, she interned at places like vice and MTV world. And again, like at outside lands, a mixture of serendipity and her encyclopedic knowledge of music opened new opportunities while still an intern. She ended up writing her first article for MTV on border musicians.

Everybody was fascinated.

This was in 2010 and I was an intern at that time. Everybody was fascinated with Tijuana and the whole music that was coming out of the , which was Ruidoson, Nortec collective, Maria Jose, Los Macuanos, and I felt like, Hey, well that's where I'm from and I want to. Be the one to sort of give you the information, like in a more genuine way, because this is something that I'm very close to and how can I be a person that brings valuable information to a.

To a department. And I guess a very coincidentally had been writing about border culture for, for my, from my thesis, for both my undergraduate thesis and then my master's thesis, it was, uh, my subject was a music pertaining to the border. Uh, so I had naturally already done this research and been fascinated by like, like members today.

Kind of embodying this like that, like, um, uplifting the border diaspora, but at the same time, um, like resisting the border, right? Like from Teresa's who like make music to shatter the, like the concept of the, of what a border is.

So after the internships, when you started applying for jobs as a journalist, did having this kind of bilingual pocho brain where you didn't feel super masterful in either language, did that pose any challenges or any pushback from editors?

It did for a really long time. And, um, I've had two types of editors. One where they sort of thought that they were not conned, but saying like, wow, you presented yourself as somebody who is so knowledgeable, so passionate that you were able to verbally tell me all these exciting stories. But when you put them on paper, like you have so many grammatical errors at your house.

Your homonyms are all over the place, like your syntax is just warped and sometimes they would not want to work with me anymore because it caused them more difficulty to edit my work then then. But the content that I was bringing them was content that was like very curable.

It took Isabella a couple of years to really find confidence in her writing, but she persisted and eventually became the editor at Remezcla, an online media and culture hub for all things LatinX.

Remezcla has always had its ear on the pulse of emerging Latin trends. So Isabela was really able to find her footing and learn to trust her journalistic instincts while working there. At that time, fueled by the internet, the crosspollination of traditional Latin genres with modern sounds was becoming more and more prevalent.

The border scene was producing norteño inspired electronic music, like this Nortec Collective song youre hearing right now. At the same time, Chile had a thriving underground pop scene with artists like Alex Anwandter

Gepe.

And one of my favorites...Ana Tijoux

All over Latin America, there was more collaging of cultures happening. Remezcla understood that language very well.

It was kind of encouraged to, you know, promote the Spanglish.

A lot of the musicians that we were like reviewing and featuring and re muscular were musicians that were incorporating, uh, American leaning, electronic music, uh, but also very inspired by roots and tradition.

This gradual acceptance of a new language has a lot to do with demographics. Latin people make up a consistently larger percentage of the American population, so it makes sense that popular culture reflects that. For me growing up and moving to the US, speaking English well felt like the only way to really belong. I would honestly get embarrassed when I would visit my family in Mexico and Spanglish would come out, like I was somehow inadequate or failing at my roots. Which seems crazy now - I love being able to dance between the two languages, and I love that the music of our times reflect that shift. But that shift was slow, and for it to even get to music, it started happening in all kinds of spaces. Isabela’s professors at university were also encouraging their students to fully own their identities.

They started writing academic books using a lot of Spanish words that cannot be properly translated into English. And they would make a point to say, Hey, we should embody these in our like, everyday language.

Uh, so they, they, they had already instilled in my head that, Hey, there are a lot of words that you can convey better. In Spanish then that are not accessible in English. So that was another point that was very, very true to me. Whereas other like editors that were not from the Latin. Descent or you know, they didn't have the heritage, wouldn't see it the same way.

Right. Until I began to work with other people that were of color as well.

And do you think like now it's established as culturally acceptable, this Spanglish and going between the two languages?

Very much so, yes. And in a decade, a lot has evolved since with language. Obviously. You, I mean, even with the top forties today, we see Drake's and get in Spanish, usher doing it.

Nicki Minaj, um, Romeo Santos, like instilling bachata in like, you know, American mainstream outlets and even selling out like the MetLife as most, uh, sold out seats. Beading a YouTube in 2010 and he just beat the record last year. Um, also even just like the roots of reggaeton, how it started, it was just a miss mishmash of like Dominican hip, I'm sorry, the Bronx hip hop with a Jamaican dembow with a Panamanian reggae and Espanol, and then all concocted in Puerto Rico to create this mishmash of genres that they dubbed with.

RIGHT HERE? Yeah Ithink so

You know, I didn't adding these, these new drum beats and et cetera, and like the way that you perform it. So now that when you even see on song. Like at, you know, number one, what was like this Pasito clearly broke so many records in 2016 and I think that that's when this bicycle happened, even though it was already happening and it wasn't the first time that something like this happens.

I think that it became more globally accepted to fuse, uh, languages just to be, we're doing the remix, you know? So with that, and Latin music has consistently beenable to prove to continue its long lasting power by continuing to produce number one hits in like the top forties so, and more and more artists wanting to now cross over into singing in Spanish and using Latin rhythms.

Definitely does say a lot about the acceptance of. Both languages and cultures.

Yeah. I've always really felt like San Diego and Tijuana have this, maybe I'm biased because I'm from here, but I've, we have this very unique possibility. I've always felt to be kind of a music Capitol, especially now more than ever, where Latin America and American popular music are more intertwined than ever here.

Cross pollination is not only musical, you know, it's economic, it's cultural. The workforce, everything is so intertwined here that I feel like this creates. This almost impossible to label dynamic, you know, like, cause it's more so in Tijuana, but obviously they're impossible to separate. But people from all over the world, all over Mexico, all over Latin America come here seeking a better life.

And it's like, it's kind of Mexican, but not really. It's kind of American, but not really. So it defies classification and this kind of dynamic is, it's fascinating. I mean it's kind of what gave birth to my own band. This like. Discomfort with being put into one genre or one language and just wanting to create music that's inspired by, by what created us.

I'm curious what, what are your views on how the border music scene has evolved over the past since he wrote that article and how you see its future unfolding.

Uh, I'm always excited when a band reaches out to me saying like, Oh, we're, you know, we're from decline now. We're doing like hip hop and this and that.

And the way that I've seen it, uh, I guess, uh, differently is that a lot of the bands now might be more influenced by, uh, say, uh, Caribbean music, like reggaeton back then, when a decade ago, reggaeton wasn't. As commonly heard as it was always in the East coast. Right. Um, the Quanah and, or just the West coast in general or so, Cal, uh, ended up, uh, appreciating it a lot later.

Like even with , I remember that my mom didn't know who Romeo Santos probably in 2010, but now everybody, he's a household name. Another thing that I do want to point out that is right to your question is the emergence of like the, the.

To provide a little context, this corrido urbano, or urban corrido wave Isabela is talking about is a new hybrid genre that teenagers who grew up on an equal dose of regional Mexican music and Soundcloud rap are creating in real time. Corridos are a popular folk music tradition in Mexico that involves storytelling. They became a pillar of Mexican music during the Mexican Revolution, where musicians would document the times and sing about socially relevant topics like oppression and history. They’re somewhat ballady and continue to be very prevalent. In the 1970s, a new wave of corridos emerged called narco corridos. Songs about the Narco universe. Most of the songs document drug traffickers, arrest, betrayals, and they also touch on related topics like political corruption and immigration to the US. They continue to be extremely popular, especially in the North of Mexico.

That is something that is very fascinating, specifically on the border. Like these kids that are like 17 18 19 years old are playing like corridos, narco corridos. Kids today, like Natanael Cano, and even like, Christian Nodal, who is more of a traditionalist, like they're not only are they still continuing to seeing the like music that is like of roots to them that is very much pertained to the border.

But even with this whole, like, uh, uh, trap corridos or corridos urbanos, they're like mixing elements of like trap with a trap vibrato and like the lyricism and the way the attitude and the, the image. And even like the bat hoodies that they wear is very much associated with a trap culture or like T3R Elemento, right? Uh, also a kid who didn't even grow up speaking Spanish, who only speaks mainly English, but since purely in Spanish, like Selena did back in the day in the nineties.

So you see all these like border kids not only having to even just say, Hey, like, uh, this is the parent, the music that my parents listened to, but. I don't even speak Spanish myself, but I am. This is where I'm from. These are already like second and third generation border kids that are already embracing kind of like the new era of where we're at today, but still.

Uh, doing music that is very much linked to, you know, the Latin roots and Latin music.

Yeah. I remember when I first went down that rabbit hole on YouTube, I was fascinated just hearing these readers and the visuals. The videos are like pure hip hop.

It was hip hop. It was amazing. They're like sipping on lean.

I couldn't believe my eyes. Me and my band mates were sitting there watching this, like, wow, this is what a crazy time we live in.

You wouldn't even think by hearing the music that that was.

When Isabela got her first big job as a music journalist in 2011 as the editor of Remezcla , she started an ongoing column called Borderline Latin, where she would take different songs by non -latin artists and trace how latin music and rhythms influenced the creation of that song. There was one in particular that I really liked where she took a song called “So Broken” by Bjork and compared it to a telenovela.

Telenovelas are, uh, a big, uh, influential, just subject to a lot of, of a lot of people even like Morrissey, right? Like, how, how, like Mexicans are fascinated by Morrissey. I thought that was just also very interesting because he's so melodramatic and, and that's, you know, and, uh, Latin people are all about everything.

Mellow drama. I just got,

wow. I've always wondered why. In Mexico, people are obsessed with Morrissey or the cure, or like these super melodramatic bands. That makes sense. That link with telanovela, that's a clear correlation.

And even to take it a little bit more deeper, cause I wrote something brief about more the Mexicans, the fascination with unlikely fascination with Morrissey.

Uh, also that he was an immigrant, right? Like, like from the Irish background and grew up sort of like a loner, um, in, in Manchester. And, uh, also when he sang, it was like. Very self deprecating, kind of like the 10th. The songs are like, they're like self-pitying rent pitches over . Right? Like, how does these like self-pitying rampages like, ah, you know, very like passionate.

Um, I felt that like Morrissey's the same way too. Like in terms of lyrical content, like how you could make music that is like. It's okay to whether in self pity, but it's for a purpose because of like love or like loss or something like that.

It's for art.

It's for art.

It feels to me like the past few years, everyone is always saying how Latin music is just getting bigger and bigger and bigger.

And now like bad bunny and J Balvin played at the super bowl, which is arguably the biggest stage in America.

Yeah. I actually wrote up an article on the future of Latin music for billboard and re in regards to the Superbowl, meaning, and this was before we even knew that bad bunny or J Belbin we're going to be a guest starring, but like, even though a J lo and Shakira had been around for like two decades, um.

It the, the main question was, will this open up new doors for Latin music that hadn't been seen before in terms of like, even just like making more appearances on television, being, uh, more, uh, sponsored by bigger brands having, you know, just, uh, yeah, like more, more sponsorship in general and more appearances.

And, um, I do believe even, uh. It did take a while. I mean, it might seem like it's suddenly happening now. Like, Oh my God, like Latin music is everywhere and everyone recognizes bad bunny. And even back then, like, uh, um, Ricky Martin, like the, arguably the first Latin crossover star of like this new era. Uh, he, he, you know, everybody would have to just sing in English.

I have an all English album as well, you know, and now that's not necessary. And, um. It was just something that was brewing already and that was bound to happen because it's something that's going to continue gaining momentum and uh, yeah, it's not more visible today.

So during our conversation, Isabella and I were both at our respective homes on opposite sides of the country, quarantined like most of you. Everyone is deeply affected, and the music industry, which really depends on crowds, is in a particular state of uncertainty. No one knows when music venues are going to reopen, big music festivals are off the table until at least 2021, and there’s just no way to know how this will unfold. Naturally, people are adapting. Festivals like EDC and conferences like the Latin Alternative Music Conference are going to be online this summer, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg in terms of how creative people are getting.

I just recently saw that, uh, one of my favorite artists, well, one of my artists that I follow a lot, um, she partnered with Grindr and she's like, yeah, we're going to be doing this live stream through Grindr.

The artist Isabela is talking about is Javiera Mena, an electro pop musician from Chile, and she performed on Instagram Live under Grindr’s handle in early April.

You never want to stay at home. Yeah. And it was like every, you know, cause it's like, like everything's going up.

Right. Even even like the, like, porn views and like, uh, music and like, you know, a lot of things are like, gaining more. Uh, like traction, you know, like online. So it's funny how even she thought of like combining those two together and then just like performing on her and they started to, they just performing on her stands like doing like a little karaoke of her own music on her own living room.

And to see musicians being that intimate in like their own house with their own equipment. And it's just something a little more relaxed and not like highly produced. It's a, uh, another lens that is appreciated from, uh, people I'm adjusting to the new times.

Thank you so much, Isabella, for your time. That was super fun.

Can you give us one song from, from a border band that we can go out on?

One song from a border band? I want to hear you. You, you, what are you

like one song that I like?

No, I like what you play. I want to hear a little bit more about your band.

Well, I wasn't expecting Isabella to turn the tables on me, but since she asked, I won't tell y'all the whole story of tulengua.

That's for a future episode, but we already bilingual, mostly hip hop supergroup with members from both sides of the border, and chances are, if you can name a genre, we've either experimented with it or we'll be experimenting with it shortly. We really apply our borderless ideals to our music. Here's a song called Fruta de tu flor.

This episode of Only Here was written and produced by me and Emily Jankowski. Emily is also the director of sound design. It was edited by Curtis Fox.

Lisa Morrissette is operations manager and John Decker is the director of programming.
KPBS podcasts are made possible by listeners like you. Go to kpbs DOT org to make a donation or become a member today. Thank you.

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Only Here

“Only Here” is about the unexplored subcultures, creativity and struggles at the U.S.-Mexico border. The KPBS podcast tells personal stories from people whose lives are shaped by the tension reverberating around the wall. This is a show for border babies, urban explorers or those who wonder what happens when two cultures are both separated and intertwined.