So many of us try to remember the year that a favorite album of ours came out, or the exact date of an anniversary with a loved one. But I feel more of us find it painfully easier to remember the exact day we lost a loved one, or the haunting reasons we held tight to that one album. This year is no different, with so much to have happened to celebrate, and so much more to want to chuck out our memory museum. On a social note, 2015 is going down as another year a we were reminded that the Civil Rights "era" never ended. But with these wilting realities, there were also efforts that helped to offer solace, heal, and in some cases, combat the miasma of racism in which we're submerged, whether with resolve or anger.
One of these strokes came from NO RUIDO NO NOISE, a compilation featuring songs by Perfect Pussy, Malportado Kids, Sneaks, Frankie Rose, and more that aimed to create awareness of and raise funds for various charities supporting Black Lives Matter movement. The idea for the comp flowered from the mind of Edgar Gonzalez. Based out of South Texas, Gonzalez is the founder of Edgar's Friends, a label with a much needed ethos in this age of the music industry: he works with, for, and by the beat of his friends on releases. He's charming, totally guapisimo, and I say these things with no bias, as I feel like every person he befriends could echo this sentiment. I had the opportunity to chat with Gonzalez about his beautiful comp, a true work in itself.
Can you describe the moment in which you knew you wanted to contribute to combat these ideas, and how it manifested into the ideas of the No Ruido No Noise compilation?
There wasn't a specific moment. Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, and (sadly) many more all came like daggers towards my heart. I feel like music has the capacity to heal but also to affirm and confirm that there is good in the world. In the darkest times in my life music brought a smile to my face, that's what I set out to do with No Ruido / No Noise, to make the world smile.
Do you feel your upbringing had any influence on the idea?
Of course, while my mother was never the most political person around, she did plant this idea in my head when I was very young that everyone is different and those differences are important, but deep down we are all just trying our best to survive.
How did your cultural context influence the comp?
I am a Mexican immigrant who is still infatuated with the idea of what America is. My love and appreciation for what this country meant for my parents when they left everything behind and crossed the border is the reason I try to call out bullshit as much as I can. This compilation is just that, me saying "Hey there is a whole lot of bullshit, so much! but there is also good, and that must not be forgotten. We can't afford to forget".
Why did you select the artists you did?
I chose the people I admire most.
Were there any artists who you really wanted on this, but who couldn't make it work?
YES! G.L.O.S.S, Mistki, and Killer Mike.
How long did all of this take, the process, from start to when the box of cassettes slid up on your doorstep?
Thanks to ridiculous production delays about a year! 6 months of planning and 6 months of waiting.
There are so many ways to show protest. To show solidarity. To combat a system of oppression. How do you feel this compilation is going to do this?
The hope is that we raise awareness as well as remind people to stay angry and to turn that anger into action. This is me saying, "Tamir, Trayvon, Sandra I won't forget you." And I hope people don't forget them either.
This past fall, you shared a deeply moving piece on the Media about a moment you shared with Downtown Boys on stage. I read it and was floored. It exemplifies how these shows, these shared spaces, between the artist and the 'attendee,' how they deconstruct themselves. That nite, you took art in, and you responded with art. I know your comp will do the same, if it hasn't already done so. How does this make you feel?
Glad to be alive.
Audrey Lorde stated, 'It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences'. I find myself listening to the comp and I'm asking myself how these ideas can come out of a project like this, from a Chicano, to a movement like Black Lives Matter. Can you elaborate on this idea within your comp?
I think that while we eat different foods and may have different accents and like different sports, we, as people of color in America, are in a journey together. We can not allow those in power to divide us and turns us against one another, because like my 8th grade spanish teacher would say "con una buena rola, todos bailamos juntos." (With a good song, we all dance together)
What would you tell someone who spouts the 'all lives matter' tag, but who wants to buy the cassette?
Black Lives Matter because all lives matter.
Do you feel 'done,' or are there more projects in the works for No Ruido No Noise?
More projects are in the works and as long as my heart will allow, I can not be done.
I was on the bandcamp page the other day and read all the tags - #World, #BlackLivesMatter, #McAllen. There's a poetic shimmer to this. Can you do something for me - can you give me three hashtags for the following words?
-The United States of America
-The Key to Success
-All Lives Matter
-The Year that was 2015