Category Archives: Interview

Yuca Brava (interview)

Recovery has been slow and tough for Puerto Rico. One month since hurricane Irma and there is still no electricity for the majority of the island’s residents. But things have not really been ok in Puerto Rico for more than a hundred years or ever since a very dubious citizenship was ‘granted’ to the island’s residents. Some of these islanders are bringing their frustration and fight to the microphone and sharing important messages with the world. One of these bands is Yuca Brava and in the midst of devastation its vocalist, Félix Castro, was kind enough to answer a few questions. They use their voices and talents not only to fight recent storms but also a hundred years worth of political turbulence.

Félix also shared with us some local groups that are bringing food, supplies and medicine to their communities in Puerto Rico so if you want to donate or help in any way then please check out the list at the bottom of the page.

 

For those not familiar with Yuca Brava can you tell us a bit about the group?

Yuca Brava (spanish for “angry yucca”) is a political rapcore band from Puerto Rico. We started on November 2016 as a duo formed by drummer/producer Carlos Anglada and myself (Félix Castro) as vocalist. Later on, Edwin Rosa (guitars) and Marcos Serrano (bass) joined the line-up.

 

How important is it for you to send a specific message out into the universe and what are some of those messages?

For us the message is primordial, without neglecting the rigor of the composition. Anglada and I started prematurely as a duet with beats because we understood the relevance of the message in its political context. Puerto Rico has been a US colony for 119 years, suffering from the violence of capitalism, racism, classism; among others. Our message is clear, Puerto Rico has to be a free sovereign country; and from this political condition, another reality is possible and necessary.

 

How is the scene in Puerto Rico for political bands? Is there a lot of like minded bands around you?

Puerto Rico has a wide variety of independent music with political content. Some in the Latin American tradition of nueva trova as: Roy Brown, Mikie Rivera, Mijo de la Palma, Fernandito Ferrer; rap and hip-hop artists like: Welmo Romero, South Flow, MalaCara, Honor y Honra, TMS, SieteNueve, Intifada, Postrap, Negro Gonzalez; bands like: Fiel a la Vega, Tráfico Pesado, Puya, Gomba Jahbari, etc. In addition, there is a movement of arts and very strong poetic expression that has been developing.

 

What do you hope to achieve with your music?

Yuca Brava’s main goal is focus on the urgency of a trench through the arts for these times of collective crisis. Our hope is to make music that does not serve to stun or alienate, but to accentuate shared rage against oppression.

 

Can you share some of your favorite political bands?

Rage Against The Machine, System of a Down, Puya, Mercedes Sosa, Kendrick Lamar, Portavoz, A.N.I.M.A.L., Anita Tijoux, Lucecita Benitez, Luis El Terror Dias, Victor Jara, Silvio Rodríguez, etc.

 

What’s next for Yuca Brava?

We’re rehearsing to perform at some local shows, and working in the pre-production phase of our next EP titled “Cristales Rotos”. For more information on music and gigs you can visit www.facebook.com/somosyucabrava & yucabrava.bandcamp.com

 

Thank you very much for participating in our project and for the music you make.

Thank you for the opportunity to share our proposal and for the solidarity.

 

Local groups and iniciatives in Puerto Rico:

Proyecto Matria
Proyecto de Apoyo Mutuo Mariana
Colectiva Feminista en Construcción
Fundación El Plato Caliente
Brigada del Mellao
El Hormiguero Centro Social Autogestionado
Olla Común
CAUCE
La Junta Comunitaria de RP
El Local en Santurce
#TeamCorazonPR
Campamento Contra la Junta
Brigada Solidaria del Oeste
Bori Puerto Rico Hurricane Relief
Local Guest
Urbe a Pie
Comedores Sociales
El Llamado
Maria Fund (by Taller Salud, the G8 of Caño Martín Peña, and other local, grassroots organizations)
Institute for Socio Ecological Research (ISER) Caribe
ViequesLove
Güakiá Colectivo Agroecológico
Casa Pueblo Adjuntas

Félix also shared a second list of reputable organizations compiled by Vanessa Díaz of Dartmouth College:
Reputable Puerto Rican Orgs & Volunteer Opportunities

War On Women (interview)

 

They play fast, conscious hardcore punk music. They sing and shout about equality, street harassment, the gender wage gap to mention only a few issues and they have a new album coming out in 2018. Shouts contacted the band and Shawna from War On Women was kind enough to participate and answer a few questions.

 

For those who are not familiar with War On Women can you tell us a bit about the group?

War On Women is a feminist punk band from Baltimore, Maryland, USA.

 

What do you hope to achieve through your music?

First and foremost we play music that we want to play! I don’t see a point in sharing our message of equality with others if it’s unlistenable. So, we want to make good music, with intersectional-feminist themes, that validate what people are feeling, as well as educate folks on something they maybe didn’t know about.

 

Are you a part of a strong scene of like minded bands or do you feel isolated at times?

I do think there is something special to being grouped in with other political bands, but we don’t all have a secret Facebook group where we chat, though maybe we should!

 

What are some of your favorite political bands, current or not?

Well the question might be what constitutes a “political band”? Are you political if you talk about social issues? Does feminism count as political because “the personal is political” and men in charge of governing seem to politicize women’s bodies? Does being a non-white man mean that anything you do is automatically politicized? The most obvious bands that come to mind are Bikini Kill, Fugazi, Strike Anywhere, Propagandhi, GLOSS…But that’s a really incomplete list! I’d rather people comment on this interview with their fave political bands!

 

Let’s hope people do exactly that. Do you partake in any extra curricular, political activities besides the music?

Yes I do, for years I’ve run the local Hollaback! chapter in Baltimore (which is an anti-street harassment organization) and I teach DIY clubs and venues how to become safer spaces.

 

What’s next up for War On Women?

We just finished recording a new record, which will be on Bridge Nine Records in 2018, and we’re planning to do some touring when it’s released. If there are any big bands from your country that want to take us on tour, let us know!

 

Thank you very much for participating in our project and for the music you make.

That’s very kind, thank you!

The Cornel West Theory (interview)

Out of the wake of Trumpapocalypse comes a group that specifically intends to fill the void left by commercial musical groups who don’t take their voices seriously. According to their Bandcamp page The Cornel West Theory released the album The T.A.B.L.E. TOO in January of 2017 as direct response to the state of things in their home environment. They recognize that someone needs to express awareness out into the atmosphere and they play their part. Shouts sent a few questions their way and two members of the collective, Tim and Rashad, told us a bit more about the group as well as their upcoming projects.

 

What do you hope to achieve with your music?

Tim:
In the words of John Coltrane…to become saints. We create to reach as many people in the world as God will allow us to reach. We pray to be able to support our families thru the art and assist others. We hope to offer a balance.

Rashad:
International critical dialogue about what changes need to be made in the world. We aim to inspire people to push for their higher spiritual calling, and to make Hip Hop an ageless, timeless, non-racially divided, powerful form of art.

 

You write on your Bandcamp page that the group formed out of a void needing to be filled (a void left by other artists). Can you elaborate on that? And do you feel alone making the music you make or is there a scene of like minded groups?

Tim & Rashad:

We feel that there’s an empty space within hip hop. A space that used to be filled by the likes of Public Enemy, KRS One, Poor Righteos Teachers, and a few more up to Black Star, but for almost a decade, there aren’t any more groups or solo artist who have a grimey, soulful, violent, socially conscious sound. We do feel like we’re in the minority in that sense, and it has been a 13 year up hill climb for us to push thru the industry’s barriers. We have plenty of other artist like us in pockets all over the US and the world, so we are not alone in that regard. We shall continue to push until the walls fall.

 

Do you have other projects or work relating to bettering the world besides the music?

Tim:
We’re a collective with several other things in the works such as graphic novels and other artistic ventures. We’re supporters of political prisoners within the US such as Mumia Abu Jamal and The MOVE 9 whom we’ve collaborated with musically on our previous album, Coming From The Bottom. We consider ourselves sonic activists.

 

What’s on the horizon for The Cornel West Theory?

Tim:

We’re always working on several things at once, but what I can tell you about the immediate future is we’re about to release our 6th album, WATERGUNZ soon, and will also be releasing at least two other projects before this year ends. In 2018 we’ll release our 7th album, N.W.O.K. We’re also seeking distribution and hope to begin touring.