MACUILXOCHITL: “Five Flower,” the Aztec god of music and dance
By Francisco Ciriza
Once again delving into the community-based music and art scene of the near-north, Los Angeles, La Prensa San Diego spoke to Greg Hernandez of the progressive alt-rock duo known as Mezklah.
Similar to other Los Angeles-based Latino groups Slowrider, Quinto Sol, and Very Be Careful, to mention but a few, Mezklah seeks to raise awareness of the realities facing its extended community with its music and performance art approach to live appearances which have taken the group on tours throughout the U.S., Mexico, and most recently, Europe.
While the group got it’s start making itself known strictly within the confines of community centers and neighborhood events, the duo has recently started hitting the Los Angeles club scene, “We’re originally a grass roots arts music/expression group with a definite theatrical aspect to us,” said Hernandez. “We started out in east L.A. performing mostly at community gatherings, but lately we’ve been getting more touch with the smaller club scene within LA,” added Hernandez, who serves as the duo’s guitarist.
True to its name, the group’s music fuses of a variety of both modern and traditional sounds as well as the Spanish and English languages. Latin beats and electronic drum loops are blended with fuzz guitar and vocals delivered either seductively or belted out with the maximum intensity to deliver the band’s messages heavy on diversity, acceptance and unity.
The group’s debut CD, an independent release, was recorded and produced by Eric Alatan and co-produced by Angel Garcia, Hernandez’s partner in art. Alatan’s background in London’s underground rave scene provided an expertise in the techno, jungle, and drum n’ bass genres dominant in that dance-oriented sub-culture.
With Hernandez’s early influences rooted in the early days of punk rock, especially in the scene’s east coast brand of do-it-yourself anti-establishment expressionism, Alatan blended his own musical tastes and tendencies with Garcia’s inclination toward guitar-driven rock and Hernandez’s punk attitude to near-perfection. “He’d had a lot of experience back in London and he really just did an amazing job recording us,” said Hernandez.
It is not difficult to imagine the performance art aspect of the band while listening to the group’s recorded music. Songs, with colorful lyrics and an inspired delivery create a reaction within the listener. “We want to get the audience involved when we perform, said Hernandez.
In addition to the music and theatrical aspect of the group is added Garcia’s painting and drawing. “His designs create a sense of theatrical performance. Expressing art work on stage together with movement with music is our way of expressing the community’s overall movement,” said Hernandez.
Mezklah has been directly involved with supportive efforts of the indigenous-based Zapatista rebellion in Mexico and even efforts to aid some of Tijuana’s most needy colonias. The band appears Friday night in Tijuana and on Saturday at U.C.S.D.’s Che Café along with San Francisco’s Fuga. For more information, please call 858-534-2311.
The Women’s Studies Program at California State University, San Marcos Women’s and Triota (Women’ Studies Honor Society) are sponsoring an event next week entitled Women and Hip Hop. Those artists announced as being participants includeh many talented women MCs; Neila and DJ Handprints, JrozOne and DJ Ethos, Tenashus, and MizLiberty.
The Women and Hip Hop event will be held in the Field House at Cal State San Marcos on Thursday March 3, 2005 at 7pm. The event is free and is open to the general public. In addition to the MC’s there will also be a graffiti art exhibit, an open mic session, and DJ’s spinning hip-hop all night.