Tag Archives: equality

Josh Gray (interview)

Out of one of the meccas of music, Nashville, comes one Josh Gray. While working hard on his second album he was kind enough to answer a few questions about his music and lyrics.

 

Firstly, who is Josh Gray?

I’m an Americana Singer-Songwriter in Nashville. I grew up in Maryland and moved down a little over two years ago. My songs are very lyric focused, that’s my main interest.

 

When did you first discover that music could be a tool to get a message across?

I started listening to a lot of punk and hardcore in high school. There are tons of bands with messages in those scenes, straight-edge, anti-racist etc. When something interests me I have a habit of researching it’s roots. So I traced people speaking out in music back to folk music and then blues. I got really into both of those genres and they’ve influenced me a lot.

 

How important is it for you to write socially conscious or political lyrics?

I seem to be on a path of having socially conscious songs on each of my albums. Granted I’m only on album two right now but it’s not a bad path to be on. First and foremost, I’m concerned with staying true to myself. Anyone who knows me knows I speak my mind so it only makes sense that I’d do the same in my songs. If I have a strong opinion about something then it’ll likely make its way into one of my songs at some point. At the same time, I’d never force myself to write social or political lyrics if I didn’t feel them.

 

“This city is a great home-base and a great place to network with other musicians and create music. But if you want to find success you won’t find that sitting in any city, you have to hit the road.”

 

What are some of the things you explore in your writing?

When I sit down to write I let my mind wander and see where it takes me. I almost never sit down and say today I’m going to write about this, it doesn’t work that way. I’ve written songs about love, loss, mortality, police brutality, homelessness, high-speed car chases, westerns and many more topics. I try to keep it interesting for myself and challenge myself to create something I haven’t done before.

 

How is the music scene around you? I imagine Nashville has a vibrant music community?

Nashville has a great scene and the average talent level I would say is higher here than most places. I think a lot of people have misconceptions about this city. They dream of coming here and getting discovered in some little bar. For the most part everyone who has success has earned it through years of work. This city is a great home-base and a great place to network with other musicians and create music. But if you want to find success you won’t find that sitting in any city, you have to hit the road.

 

Have you noticed an increase in protest music in the last years in Nashville, or elsewhere?

Nashville is known for country music and there are a few artists speaking their mind. But it’s few and far between and when someone does say something it’s usually pretty vague. Managers and labels will tell you it’s not good for your brand. The mainstream thing to do is write lyrics that anyone with a pulse can relate to. Country music in America is by far the most nationalistic genre. It’s funny but often the people who see themselves as the most patriotic are the first to chastise you for using your right to free speech.

 

Do you partake in activism outside the music?

I make it out to as many protests and marches as I can. I think it’s very important to have your numbers be seen. When people are online they’re in their own little bubble and it’s easy to think there’s no opposition. I believe in equality and justice and I’ll fight for that in any way I can.

 

Can you share with us some of your favorite political musicians, current or not?

Some of my favorites are Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Phil Ochs and Neil Young.

 

What is on the horizon for you?

Towards the end of the year I have a new full length album coming out that I’m excited about. Ten new songs and one of them being “Darkest Before the Dawn”. It’s a very blunt protest song, I don’t mince words. It’s probably been the hardest to write of all the songs I’ve written. It focuses on a number of injustices, I actually had to cut a couple verses for length. It’s tough when you can’t possibly say everything you want to in one song. I can’t expect an audience to sit with me for three days while I rant at them with my guitar though haha. Unlike my first album this one will have more of a full band sound. I’m envisioning one song at least to feature piano instead of guitar. Part of the fun of music is not doing the same thing all the time and challenging yourself.

 

Thank you very much for participating and for the music. Anything else you would like to shout from the rooftops?

Thank you to everyone who has supported me along the way. I’m looking forward to releasing this new album and seeing you on the road wherever you may be!

 

 

 

 

Official Website: www.JoshGrayMusic.com

SoundCloud: www.soundcloud.com/joshgraymusic

Facebook: www.facebook.com/joshgraymusic

Youtube: www.youtube.com/joshgraymusic

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