Me: Tell us about “Memories of Melancholy Cholas.” I understand this is your fourth album. What is the music about?
“Memories of Melancholy Cholas”, my fourth album is inspired by the Latina gangsters I grew up seeing around during (the) 80’s in Segundo Barrio. (It) later dated in the northeast throughout the 90’s. It entails personal stories and experiences my friends shared with me about heartbreak, death, love, gangs and drugs. The album took me 2 ½ years of writing, remembering situations, taking multiple drives around my former neighborhoods and reminiscing with friends about the good old days.
Me: In your words, what’s the definition of a Chola?
The definition of a Chola to me is a woman who didn’t choose to be a gangster, (and) is a product of her environment. Living in the barrio is the only life she knows. A Chola in its true essence is a protector of the barrio, their family and puts in work like her male counterparts in their clique or even more. Nowadays, it seems popular for women to dress like Cholas but not be about it, which is spruced up a lot of Cholas sin (without the) barrio.
Me: When and how did you get started with music? Tell us about your Fuya Radio days. Do you still have a pretty good relationship with the band members?
Actually Fuya Radio is alive and well. When my partner in rhyme Metafisix and I perform, we go perform under Fuya Radio. As far as the collective, everybody is handling family life and other responsibilities but we are still a crew. We’re like brothers.
Me: In the past, I know you were collaborating with other local artists. Are you still doing that or are you mostly solo now?
As far as collaborations, I’m actually (willing) to make music with anybody, regardless of genre. These albums, like the last three, are actually a collaborative effort with different beat makers, friends and rappers.
In middle school, I used to write poetry so it was easy for me to start writing songs. Later after graduating from high school around 1999, I met my friend Metronix who happened to be a DJ and beat maker. He was producing a lot of house music beats. After some convincing, he started to make hip-hop beats and I started to rap.
Me: Tell us about Sopita Creative Lab.
Sopita Creative Lab is actually the small room in my parents’ house in the Northeast where I make art and have a designated closet I use to record in. The name came to me while eating a bowl of alphabet soup during a recording session. In other news, I’m in the middle of relocating my studio to the lower valley. I’m pretty excited since it’ll give me a lot more space to create.
Me: Do you plan on performing the music from your latest album at local and/or perhaps national venues? If so, where? When?
For the past years I’ve been writing this album, I’ve already started to perform songs from the album. As far as the venues, all I can say is to add me on Facebook and you can find out where I’ll be performing. I pretty much perform anywhere and hopefully I’ll be doing a few shows out of town in the near future. Just stay tuned.
Me: Is music and drawing something you do on the side, or are they your main focus at this time? Besides music, what type of art do you create?
Music and drawing are a big part of my life. Like many artists, I have a job that takes up a considerable part of my time. At the moment, I hold a nine to five to be able to support my dream.
Me: What plans do you have for your music and artistic career in time?
At one peak moment like any other young artist, I wanted to be famous. Music became a burden when it wasn’t happening. At 37, I’m at the point of my life where I’m not strung out on becoming famous. I enjoy the places music has taken me and the people I met along the way. I feel like I’m writing the best material of my life because I’m making music at my own pace, without nothing to prove and (I) enjoy writing songs.
Me: Your music was previously featured on local radio, what was the experience like? Can we expect to hear more of your music anytime soon? If so, when and where?
My experience on the radio was very cool not only because I heard myself on the radio, but (it) was a group effort by my friends on Facebook and Instagram. They cast their votes everyday to get my song played on the radio. It was heartwarming to see how many people came together for me. It brought a smile and tear to my eye.
Me: What is the local music scene in El Paso like, especially for independent artists?
The local music scene is great and is only getting better. On any single night, you can check out an open mic, a local band ranging from Punk Rock to Hip-Hop. I recently attended this great show at the Monarch and the atmosphere was insane! As I saw Trost House perform and looked at the crowd, there was a pivotal moment. I thought to myself, “El Paso is the shit.” There’s no doubt in my mind that El Paso is a wonderful place for independent artists and music.
Me: Do you plan on staying in El Paso, why or why not? Did you grow up in El Paso?
I was born in El Paso and I plan on staying here. I made my life here, wrote songs inspired by the Sun City and the small fan base I have is here. I love El Paso.
Me: A lot of independent artists I’ve talked with say they want to remain independent. If you get the opportunity to become mainstream, would you take it? Why or why not?
This question has been brought up from time to time and I’ll try to answer it the best way I can because you’re dealing with an artist that has been independent making records for 15 years. Being independent is the only thing I know. I never dealt with a record label. Seeing how many artists who have been signed to major labels have been screwed is a bit scary. I really doubt my music would be mainstream because of its subject matter but if I was offered a record deal, I would want full control of my music.
Me: Who are some musical and artistic inspirations for you and why?
One of my musical inspirations is Jose Alfredo Jimenez. My mom would play me his records when I was a child. Jose Alfredo Jimenez is the staple of Mariachi music and his compositions are timeless.
Me: In general, what would you say your music is mostly about?
My music is about life experiences sprinkled with a dose of the things I’ve seen around me. Everyday life is inspiration.
Me: Where can people buy the album once it’s ready to go? Besides Sound Cloud, where else can people find your music?
Once it’s out, people can purchase my album at zyme.bandcamp.com or contact me through my personal email at firstname.lastname@example.org. (I can be) added as a friend on Facebook at facebook.com/zymemusic and I will personally deliver it to you. If you’re out of town, we can work something out through Paypal.
Me: Anything else you want to add?
I want to thank everybody who has supported me through the years as well as our Fuya Radio collective. I’d like to say thank you to my friends, beat makers who have trusted me with their craft so I can in return make a song. Anybody who has approached me and said kind words after a show, as long as you keep on hearing I’ll be making music. My heart to my love Arlene for putting up with me for so long and all the craziness that comes with an artist. Last, but not least to my mamma, Cuquita and my brothers.
Photos courtesy of Zyme One, Papa Joe Photography.