electroacoustic, cumbia, Mexico, racism

Rosalia Soria Luz - electroacoustic composer from Mexico

Name

Rosalia Soria Luz

Ethnicity

Latino

Area

Rusholme

Comments

Rosalia Soria Luz is a musician and composer of electro-acoustic music, who left her native Mexico to study in the UK. She grew up hearing popular music of her father’s band playing a kind of cumbia (a style involving trombone, tuba, trumpet and drums known as banda or duranguense), and aged 13 joined the band as a bass player. In the UK she immersed herself in electroacoustical music at the universities of Huddersfield and Manchester, where she won her PhD, and where she developed a completely new aesthetic identity. But she still draws on her love of acoustic instruments and traditional popular music from Mexico. RSL: Because I studied in Manchester, all my music, electroacoustic now, is greatly influenced by the aesthetics of Manchester, from people coming to study at the NOVARS Research Center. I was doing nothing else but composing for three years, electroacoustic music, and that was my first experience ever composing electroacoustic. So I got all the influence from my classmates, and lots of them, some are from Chorlton or Manchester or around. And one goes to concerts and talks to them, and then they, they give influences into to how one composes, just by listening to them and how they talk, or how they shape their ideas. And when one gets their own style, or I got my own style, just based on all those influences from my classmates, and all those concerts. So I think, right now professionally, I'm really connected to Manchester. In my aesthetics, I feel like I belong to Manchester in that sense that I absorbed the aesthetics from people coming here. But in Mexico I studied traditional music in the conservatory. I think I’ve got aesthetics from Mexico as well because here, people are not so used to using acoustic instruments in electroacoustic music, or at least not in the way I use it. So normally I record an instrument, and I try to put it as it is, because I really enjoy the timbre of the instruments as they are, without any contemporary techniques or so but just normal timbres. And I try combining that we learn other sounds, or objects or so. I think this is my style from Mexico, how I record these instruments, using acoustic instruments in that way… here, usually they would take an instrument and apply lots of effects or stuff with a computer to make it some entirely different, or making unrecognizable words, I really like to present the instruments as they are in my music in a very traditional way, and this comes from my influences from Mexico. As Rosalia has changed environment it has given her a shifted perspective on Mexico, as well as a fresh creative approach in which the voices of Mexican people find a placed in the electro-acoustic aesthetics of Manchester, and that way to draw attention to multiple personal experiences of racism. RSL: After I came to Manchester and I did my PhD, at some point I didn't know if I could continue in Manchester or not, so I went to Mexico, after living in Manchester for three years. I realised that people in Mexico were behaving in quite a racist manner towards me, because I'm not white. I [had] thought it was worse than in England, where I was being treated with respect [just] because I was in the university and I'm a researcher, and I've got a doctorate, and everyone was very respectful and nice. And I went back to my country, and I couldn't believe that people treat me worse there. How could this be? I was extremely offended. And at that point, I saw like a call for proposals from the government to propose like, some project involving music. So I decided to propose a portfolio of electroacoustic music, to raise awareness about racism in Mexico… the racism that is amongst Mexicans – how between Mexicans we don't like each other when we have darker skin. In that proposal, I said I was going to write electroacoustic music, but ask people their opinion, because I didn't want to put my own opinion, because it would be like, very subjective or, I don't know. So I went and started interviewing people, “do you think we have this kind of racism in Mexico? And what's your experience? Would you like to share an experience?” So that opened a new kind of way of thinking for myself and musically, also, how to include those voices and those opinions and those experiences from people that have been targeted in that sense, being discriminated because of their darker skin? How can I include that in a musical piece that still sounds musical, but in a way gives voice to, to those concerns that I have, how can this be that I'm treating worse, treated worse in my country than abroad and, and I realized that this is like a standard reality, and we don't realize that in Mexico. And my point is just trying to create a bit of, raise awareness about it, but in a musical way. So because electroacoustic already, because of the language … some people don't even consider that music… I wanted to put a bit of melody, or a bit of a rhythm, but still without losing my compositional identity. I have three pieces that have interviews included, but I like Nuestras Voces a lot, what they say in there, because it's about making justice. That we shouldn't be feeling inferior with regard to other countries, because we think that Spaniards are superior compared to Mexicans, things like that, which come from colonisation. So that's why, I would like to share a fragment of that [here], because people are very honest sharing in their “Look, this happened to me and I think this is wrong” or just sharing the experience like, “ I was discriminated- like I couldn't be the queen of the carnival because I was a dark skin and I needed to be white if I wanted to participate” - even in that thing. So like, like very typical, simple things that happened but when you put all that together, one sees the culture we have of discrimination in the country. The process of making the piece was challenging, and immediately triggered anxieties about discrimination – and also some reluctance to talk about it. Through Rosalia’s persuasion, it came nevertheless to generate a sense of solidarity among the participants. This then triggered a current of denial as the result was increasingly made available. RS: When I was asking them, for instance, if they have had an experience with discrimination because of their skin tone or so, they were saying, “so you think that I am dark? I am white!” And it was like “No, you are not, we are both kind of dark skinned” [laughs] but already they were offended ... Because they considered themselves white whereas they weren’t … so I was like, “Oh my God” [laughs] And I said, “well, but then something that you have witnessed, if it's not you.” And then as they are describing, some of them started saying, “Well, a friend of mine told me that this happened”, and then I realised the ‘friend of mine’ was that the person themselves, so they just didn't want to say openly because they are embarrassed of accepting that they have darker skin, because it is this “bad” thing. And other people just didn't want to. So I was like, they were very keen going to interview, and on seeing, the microphone in there, like the recorder, then they just panicked and didn't want to say anything. And they were starting to be ashamed, so I had to come up with some phrases like, “well, if you were giving advice to a person, and think of this microphone, as everyone can hear you through these microphones, what would you tell them?” And then they would start saying, “Well, I would tell them that this is bad, that skin color is not important, that we all have capabilities.” And then they started being happy and they started sharing their experience. But first I needed to come up with some kind of enticing way of, of open up on breaking the ice. So I was always inviting them a coffee, so we're relaxing, it is not good for recording, but it is good for setting up an atmosphere, Obviously I told him that I will let them know, or … send them the final version of the piece to see if they still want to be included in there. And if they don't like it, I also can remove their participation, but they were very happy. And I think they realized that what they thought is only happening to them, lots of people were coming up with the same problem, so in a way they feel identified and felt like together, like sharing that experience with each other, and that made me really happy, like they didn’t feel it was only them suffering- there were lots of us are going through the same. And then they started sharing the music, and some other people started being really angry at me and also sending me … saying that I was fabricating of course. So it has been also quite bitter [laughs] in a way, but also really, really rewarding. Mostly in Mexico, people that were white and heard all this, they say that there is no such racism, and if some people are being discriminated against is because they deserve that. And who am I to put those things in there? How is it that the government is funding such kind of thing? And I was saying, “well, the government pays me, because my music kind of portrays the identity of the country and our identity right now is that we are discriminating each other for years” [laughs]. But they will say, “Ah, you are crazy, and you should study more” and that the music is horrible – “it’s not even music”. And yeah, whereas other people started hugging me, because they felt like suddenly someone, gave them, gave them a voice, or kind of talked about something they have been struggling with. So it's been really strong in both ways, like good experiences, and also really horrible attacks. In Manchester the response was also strong. RSL: I presented it in a concert at the University of Manchester and also in Staffordshire. I put subtitles … and they were extremely shocked. They wouldn't even imagine that this happens in Mexico, because one usually discriminates against people of other countries, or …. I don't know … but not [against] our own, as we do in Mexico. And then in the concert here in Manchester, for instance, everyone started sharing their own experiences of racism that they have witnessed, or experienced themselves after the concert just because of it. “Oh, yeah, this was really touching really strong, really, really powerful”.

Materials contained on this site are free to use for educational purposes only. To reproduce this material for any other reason or for full transcript request, please contact us

electroacoustic, cumbia, Mexico, racism

Rosalia Soria Luz - electroacoustic composer from Mexico

Name

Rosalia Soria Luz

Ethnicity

Latino

Area

Rusholme