This exclusive web extra features a performance by Chicano/Son, a local Los Angeles group based out of Boyle Heights. In this exclusive interview with KCET, Marco Amador, creator of Chicano/Son, talks about his music, his non-profit work, and how Ricardo Flores Magón continues to be a source of inspiration.
What is your name and what do you do?
Marco Amador: My name is Marco Amador and I’m part of a group called Chicano/Son that’s performing tonight at La Balada de Ricardo Flores Magón. As an individual, i don’t just play in a band, I’m also an anarchist. I’m a Chicano from Los Angeles and I run an independent media center in Boyle Heights where we work on producing documentaries that talk about very important issues within our community. For instance, our last film, talks about military recruitment in the Latino community in the Unites States. So my vision of this work has always been that it has to be very independent. It has to be able to be critical. And I think that is where anarchism comes in. I think a lot of people, especially within Chicano culture and Chicano politics have always had an issue with relating how anarchism and Chicanismo works together. But it works mainly because modern day anarchist theories were inspired by Ricardo Flores Magón and by Zapata.These were the guys that were pre-Spanish Civil War were, in a sense, putting down a linea for those movements. That’s what I do in my community. We’re also opening up a new space in Boyle Heights called Espacio 1839. It’s a collective. We’re bringing together a bookstore, a record store, art in the community, and a project that I run called Radio Sombra, which is an independent radio station in Boyle Heights. And so, that’s what I do.
Chicano/Son’s sound is not straight-forward son jarocho. Tell us about the mix of things that you’re doing and why?
Yeah, well you know, most of us that have played in Chicano Son understand the traditional aspects of son jarocho. I mean, we’re not experts at it but we do understand it. Like I said, I’m from Veracruz. So, I think it’s in my blood as well. But one of the things that I feel that unfortunately it happens in the United States is that, within the Chicano community is that, we are a marginalized community. And we’re not just marginalized economically and politically but also culturally, right. And there’s a lot of stereotyping as well. So, we felt it was very important to be able to manifest our own sound within music, right. And so Chicano Son is that, el sonido Chicano, the sound of what a Chicano is. So, when you talk about son Cubano, son Jarocho, son Montuno, you should also in the same breath say son Chicano, right. And that’s really the element of Chicano Son.
Describe “El Golpe,” the song you are playing tonight.
“El Golpe” is a very interesting song musically but also lyrically. Musically because it’s where we blend these very kind of strange chords playing on the jarana but with a drum and bass background. But the generates its power from the lyrics. And was really inspired from seeing the images from Tahrir Square. Seeing these thousands of people standing up to the police, getting beat, police hitting them with sticks and these people still standing up and not moving. They defied an entire system. But more importantly, through that process, that popular resistance, they actually stopped the government and the government went away. They convinced the army to not fire upon them and they got Mubarak out. So, the first time, in our time, we saw people stand up and, like the song says, “derotar un tirano,” without the use of guns, without the use of bombs but just with consciousness.
What is the relationship between “El Golpe” and the life of Ricardo Flores Magón?
The relationship between Flores Magón and “El Golpe” is a very simple one because “El Golpe” is inspired by the movements of Tahrir, Tunisia and the whole Arab Spring that we saw, the whole uprising of consciousness. And Flores Magón, that’s what he dedicated his whole life to. That’s why he spent so many years of his life in jail. He was more than just an intellectual, working with his brother organizing a newspaper. He was a revolutionary. He was bringing revolutionary concepts to a revolutionary time, in revolutionary Mexico. So he was pushing. He was pushing even the theories that some of these people already had there and he helped inspire people like Zapata in defining what his movement was on a political level. So, I think that’s why, for us, there’s this connection between the music that we do, this vision of wanting land and liberty, of wanting freedom, and being inspired by the words of Flores Magón.
How is Ricardo Flores Magón relevant today?
The relevance of Flores Magón right now? Actually, I would change that. I think Flores Magón has never lost relevance. But the reason why I think there’s more attention on Flores Magón and his theories is because we saw basically this movement, this global movement happen in 2011. It started in Tunisia and then from there it grew to Egypt, and from there it went to Puerto Rico, and then it came to the most important place, really, which is the United States of America. So we’ve seen movements happen all over the world but this was one of the first times in our time, maybe in the last 15, 20 years that we saw a movement surge in the United States of America which was the Occupy Movement. For the first time we have this kind of global network. This global network of communication. We have a flood of information and people can now access that — that’s the difference now and that’s why now these ideas that Magón was talking about become more relevant. Or maybe not more relevant but more exchanged. They’re shared easily and they’re shared quicker and they’re shared on a mass level. So, that’s what’s happening, I believe, right now with these concepts.
Chicano/Son is a musical group formed by Marco Amador and consists of Marco Amador (vocals, jarana), Fredo Ortiz (drums), David Gomez (keyboards), and Juan Perez (bass).