Aztlan Underground Interview
What were some of Aztlan Underground's influences?
YAOLT - By '90, '92 we wanted to put something out about 500 years of
resistance, about resisting the celebration of Christopher Columbus.
So we put out this tape called October 12th 1492 Fuck That,
and to sell tapes and get that stuff out there. By '95,
we really realized we had different influences because I come from
listening to Zapp or Parliament but also a punk background and also
alternative and he (Bulldog) has influences like Ska and Hip-Hop.
Describe the unique sound of Aztlan Underground.
YAOLT - By '95, we came with a CD (DECOLONIZED) that had totally indigenous
elements to it like instrumentation but also had obscure samples from
different things and areas that we knew weren't popular at the time.
They weren't what particular Chicano Hip-Hop sound is or African Hip-Hop
sound is but was still Hip-Hop base. Like Mos Def said, Hip-Hop is where
you're going. So for us it was still Hip-Hop and is Hip-Hop.
So we released that and it represents what we are about, where we come from
musically and who we are, but also lyrically, in terms like when we talk
about Mother Earth, how our culture has been stolen from us, what our values
mean as opposed to the dominant culture, western world values.
That same year we started playing live in '95, when we release
"Decolonized", with this other brother Rudy and his real brother... and we came alive.
Now we have new members, which is a beautiful thing, and in '98 we released "Subverses".
We are now working on another album with two other new elements,
so it's beautiful because every release sounds different.
This new album is definitely going to sound different.
Where was your first performance at?
YAOLT - East L.A. college. Man there was nobody there.
BULLDOG - There was this big circle of chairs in the student center and all
these disco lights going on and all this with about 4 or 5 people there.
YAOLT - That's why its real special for us to go back there and always
play. Now when we go back its dope. There's a big scene growing in East L.A.
All kinds of genres and different styles of music but all conscience.
It's growing and it's beautiful.
What's Aztlan Underground's prime message for their listeners?
JOE - I think it's about self-determination; to look within themselves;
to search their inner spirits; to know who they are; to find their own
spirituality or their own identity within the natural identity of our past-
of our Mother Earth, or our Grandfather Sun that shines upon us; to look
into themselves at all the elements around them is them;
to really deeply search and really feel and express what they feel.
I think it comes back to love. It comes back to loving ourselves.
BULLDOG - I think now we've shifted gears a little bit and are focusing more
on the struggle of the haves and the have-nots. It has become more of a global
message, from a Chicano perspective.
YAOLT - We want, if anything, to pose a question to people.
Does the dominant culture values provide a future for ourselves as
indigenous people as Raza, does it provide a future for humanity,
does it provide a future for Mother Earth?
What went down at the Mexico City show that you played with Rage against the Machine?
YAOLT - We knew the job was dangerous when we took it.
Brother Zack (de la Rocha) called Rudy and told him,
"hey man, our security went down". They (Mexican Police) told us "go up
(on stage) you will be deported". We realized we were putting it down with
our lives. The trip from the taxi to there (arena), we felt totally followed.
They (Mexican Police) said if you say anything, fuck you, we'll dog you.
When we got to the place, the Zapitistas said that is their (Mexican Police)
tactics, but there is no way with international media, with cameras
especially, that nothing will happen, because it will make Mexico,
in general, look wacker. But they (Mexican Police) do it to fuck with you.
Who would you like to work with?
BULLDOG - Mos Def
YAOLT - Dope revolutionary MC's.
How do you view the Internet, in regards to the music industry and to yourselves?
BULLDOG - I think it's positive. We reach people we may not have
before. I believe it's a real big part of the future of XRF
(Xicano Records and Film) because it's taking the power out of the hands
of the major labels. And distribution on there is going to be massive and
instant. If you look at what Major Labels are doing right now is to buy
out band's web sites. When they (bands) sign, they have to sell the
web-sites rights to the label. The reason they (major labels) are doing
that is that they view it as a pipeline for everything, all their (bands)
merchandise, all their music, all their videos, all that stuff is going
to be sold through the Internet. They're demanding if you don't sign over
your web site, you're not getting signed.
What's in store from Xicano Records and Film, and Aztlan Underground?
BULLDOG - We're going to release a compilation CD to benefit the
Peace and Dignity run. The compilation has Hip-Hop, to hardcore punk, to reggae,
to poetry or spoken word.
YAOLT - With 18 tracks.
BULLDOG - We've also re-released our first CD, "Decolonized".
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