Flor Veinte Collective: An Interview

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Regina Larre Campuzno (Maladama) and Valerie Peczek (Valey) have teamed up in their Oberlin afterlives to start a music production group that works with “female, trans*, and gender non-conforming performers” [1] to share their music and empower communities through education. Flor Veinte Collective makes music performance more inclusive and accessible to all people through promoting gender and cultural equality.

This summer Flor Veinte launches it’s first tour across the East Coast and the Midwest playing shows in 14 cities. The duo will be offering workshops (conducted in both Spanish and English) that will teach trans* youth and young girls songwriting, improvisation, performance techniques, and basic soldering skills to make contact microphones.

Fresh like a flower, Flor Veinte Collective is a much needed and awaited departure from a generally male-dominated music scene. Help them support their summer tour and workshops by donating to their Kickstarter and check them out in a city near you!

With the premiere of female and trans* music collective, Flor Veinte, we’ve had the chance to talk with Regina Larre Campuzano about sobre feminism, creativity, and the new Kickstarter campaign for the Flor Veinte Collective.

 

Tristan: Hi Regina!!! Can you introduce yourself to our readers?

Regina: Hi, my name is Regina Larre Campuzano and I am an electronic musician and improviser from Mexico City. On stage I go by “Maladama” which translates to “Bad lady” and I’m one of the founders of Flor Veinte, a music collective dedicated to spreading the music of female and trans musicians.

 

T: What is a music collective? How did you form Flor Veinte Collective?

R: A music collective is a community of artists that support each other’s art. We share each others music, we collaborate, we ask each other for advice, we share gigs and we all take care of each other. Flor Veinte Collective was formed by Valerie Perczek (Valey), Sally Decker (Seirenes) and myself in a very organic way, because in the. hyper-male-dominated music scene of the place that we lived in, it was really important for us to know that we had other really inspiring womyn backing us up and ready to collaborate. Most of us also had some kind of role in giving workshops to all-girl schools or teaching young teens about media, and we realized how important it is to see yourself as having a place and a right to make art. Flor Veinte is us making that creative energy we share with each other more “concrete” and trying to share it with other people that might want to be a part of it.

 

T: Can you describe some of the music that comes out of the collective?

R: As of today, Flor Veinte sounds a lot like electropop mixed with weird experimental noise-pop and dreamy loopbased healing music. However, we are not trying to make this a genre based collective. We each bring really different things to the table and that’s what is so cool about it. Overall, I think our music shares a special kind of honesty, because we are the writers, the performers, the producers and our music is the unadulterated product of our own experiences.

 

T: Was feminism always part of your consciousness or did something catalyze your perspective?

R: To be honest, I don’t think I always understood feminism the way that I do now. It wasn’t until I started playing drums and having my own grunge bands that male privilege became clear to me. I was never going to stop “playing like a girl” or getting criticized for playing in a dress unless I was a hundred times better than anyone in the room, and even then people would notice the dress more than anything. I was brought up in a household that was “gender blind” and was always told that you had to work for what you earned. What I didn’t understand until later was how much harder you had to work if you were a womyn, and how much of the sexism that had to be overcomed was internalized from years of seeing womyn and trans musicians as a rarity.

 

T: I’m sure there had to be a moment before you decided to start Flor Veinte when you realized that this kind of project is super important. Can you think of a time when you realized having a community of women and trans* musicians would’ve been really nice?

R: When we were in college we all played improvised experimental music in an incredible feminist ensemble called WAM (Women in Art Music) and the energy that came from it was unreal. It is surprisingly difficult to play music in an all female and/or trans lineup, and when it happens, there is a really special kind of freedom that comes with it. However it is really easy to end up being the only womyn or trans artist in a show with 5 or 6 bands, and no matter how nice everyone else is, it is still alienating. We really want that to change. It’s not that we want less dudes making music, we simply want to encourage more womyn and trans folks to put their stuff out there, to play more gigs and know that they don’t have to do it alone.

 

T: When I was younger, I never really knew how to be a champion for myself and girl guitarists because I didn’t have nearly as many choices as the boys when it came to picking out a role model. I think a lot of girls are taught to not ask questions about this male-dominated structure where women who play music are often pitted against each other (Example A: Q Magazine interview with Bjork, PJ Harvey, Tori Amos). How do you think your project will help change this?

R: One of the most common things that we run into when we talk to people booking shows is them saying some variation of: “I would love to book more women but there aren’t many good ones around, and I don’t want to book them just because they are women. That would be sexist.” And the thing is most of the people that say this are genuinely wonderful people that are concerned, but this is a structural problem that is much larger than them. There are plenty of rad womyn and trans folks out there making awesome music, they are just not getting the right kind of buzz. The big problem is that when they don’t get heard, young female and trans aspiring musicians are missing out on role models, and perpetuating the stereotype that art creation is mostly for dudes. Our dream is to have the exact antidote for that. We hope to get so many people on board making such different kinds of music, that we have genre tabs in our website, precisely so that “women musician” is not a genre anymore.

 

A really important part of our project is that the artists in the collective are also educators. Wouldn’t it have been awesome to have St. Vincent come to your school and teach you how to play some crazy overtone guitar techniques? We want to claim ownership of our skills and talents and start breaking the stereotype of the mystical and extraordinary female and trans musician: they are people that have worked hard, played a lot, practiced a lot, and believed in themselves enough to take really big chances. We should all have that kind of confidence in our own vision.

 

T: What kind of workshops will you be hosting this summer?

R: We are hosting workshops on instrument building, improvisation and performance at summer camps and community centers. In these workshops students will learn how to solder their own contact microphones (which can turn any object into an instrument), basic audio reinforcement, deep listening techniques, improvising and even some movement. The idea is to build confidence in their abilities as performers, but also to have students listen to themselves, their peers and their immediate surroundings, in order to make music that is deeply personal and unique to their experiences.

 

T: You seem to be placing a strong emphasis on incorporating Spanish into Flor Veinte. How and why did you decide to host workshops in Spanish?

R: I am from Mexico City and Val is the daughter of Colombian parents, Spanish is second -or in my case first- nature to us. It’s in our roots. Something that is really important to all of us is that this collective allows a space for people to embrace the entirety of their identities, and that includes their culture. According to the U.S. Census Bureau there are 38.3 million people in the US that speak Spanish as their primary language at home. Although there are other wonderful organizations teaching kids how to make their own electronics or how to be better performers, most of them do not reach this huge part of the population who also deserves to be heard.

 

T: What was it like growing up in Mexico City?

R: In Mexico “like a girl” is definitely still an insult for most people, and the music scene was really hard to navigate as a female musician, particularly if you were not a singer. However, that has been changing a lot, and in the last few years, the experimental and improvised music scene that has developed there seems to be a lot more supportive of women. I was lucky enough to grow up in a really nurturing household, and to have an amazing mother that never tried to dissuade me from being an artist, even if she didn’t quite “get” the kind of music I was making. People like Juana Molina, Ely Guerra, Bjork, Natalia Lafourcade and Lila Downs have been huge influences for me, because they are constantly evolving and reinventing their art in ways that push the boundaries of their genres and keep challenging their listeners with new material, new takes on traditional repertoire, and with sounds that they have never heard before.

 

T: What would you like to achieve, as an artist and with the collective, in the years to come?

R: To rule the world! My first hope for the years to come is for us to be able to continue doing music and outreach to this level. It isn’t a secret that earning a living as an emerging musician can be a nightmare, but my dream is that we can make that a reality for all of the members of the collective, which we hope will continue to grow and evolve so that we can reach more communities at any given time. My goal is to be able to have sustained partnerships with community centers and that someday, some of the kids we are working with will join Flor Veinte as artists themselves. Wouldn’t that be a amazing?

 

T: Definitely! Final question: What do you think is cool about being a womyn?

R: I think there have been thousands of funk, punk, rock and all sorts of dude bands that have explored most corners of each genre they belonged to. But, there is still so much uncharted territory for the female and trans perspective in music. That is really exciting to me! We have the chance of bringing in new voices and narratives to the table. If we want to, we can get away with anything because nobody is expecting it. We can sound like things that have never been heard before and that is a really empowering sort of freedom. Besides, we are beautiful and badass, and no one can deny that!

 

By Tristan Cimini, Summer Staff Writer

 

[1] “About Us.” Flor Veinte Collective. http://www.florveintecollective.com/#!about-us/cjtk (accessed 28 June 2014).

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