Well, well, well, you made it yet to the awesome Artnois page featuring something about Quetzal, the Grammy winning Chicano rock band from East L.A. and all you can consider is what am I going to learn about Quetzal today? Your real question should be, what am I going to get out of this Quetzal feature. What I mean by this is that Quetzal is an ever-evolving band with nothing but great influences of activism; feminism; humanism; and most specifically the reason for their feature on here, cultural music. Therefore, for all you loyal Quetzal enthusiasts, their answers to questions and customs might not be the same as they were 10 years ago; 1 year ago; a few months ago; or even yesterday. Heck, this featured interview might not even be relevant today! Ha! Jay kay.
Anyway, so by now you are probably dying to know what we asked them and how they responded right? Well, if your answer is yes go on and click here; however, if your answer was no or you simply want to continue reading this awesome introduction to the interview, click up there anyway because there is nothing I could say that could possibly explain Quetzal’s answers without the chance of making it subjective. You be the jurdge! Here is a short teaser of it below.
I understand that the Quetzal is one of the most beautiful birds from Central America. How did you decide on this name for your band?
It is a fact that the Quetzal bird can not live in captivity. From early conquest times historical documents show that this beautiful creature would will itself to sleep when it found itself caged. Hence, to some degree our musical expression as a band. We utilize (like many East LA bands before us) sounds that are reflective of the relationships we have built with other communities in struggle. So our goal is not to adhere to market definitions of music (genre). We like to compose music that is organic in the sense that we aren’t trying to write “hits”. We bring what we are feeling, hearing, discussing, to the table which, for all humans, is reflective of their social spaces.
You have been associated with many ties to political movements in both feminism and the Zapatista movement. How true is this and to what level is your involvement?
This is especially true for us. We have been greatly affected by the Zapatista teachings and Chicana and Black feminism scholarship and culture production. Both have shown us the possibilities around how our music can be approached in order to have a social justice impact. These ongoing post-colonial movements made us further understand the important roles we held as community musicians. In the process of studying these writings we came to realize that our roles were nothing frivolous and what we decided to say (how, why, and where) were extremely important and necessary!
I am sure that at this point your involvement with these movements is more of a lifestyle. Was this always so?
That all depends on how you view “lifestyle”. To me style is something you grow out of, you pick and choose till the next trend comes in. This may have been the case for some, but not for us. This movement was transformative in all respects. And like a caterpiller turns into a butterfly it can not go back to what it once was. When you study and understand something as pressing as we have understood oppression in all its manifestations (social, political, economic, gender etc) through the eyes of these teachings, or any for that matter, the cognitive change is irreversible.
Read the full interview with Quetzal on our 2 Year Anniversary Issue.
Below: NCLR Alma Awards performance of “Wake Me Up” with Aloe Blacc.