May 8, 2013 Leave a comment
Let’s say on one sultry day in San Juan, Puerto Rico Ani DiFranco, Regina Spektor and La Lupe all met up. They were introduced to the Pixies and Aphex Twin. All are trapped in the same space under the hot sun, were made to join forces and form a choir fusing their musical styles at the insistence of a director by the name of Eddie Palmieri. What would one get? What would be the outcome? The answer may have very well been found this past Friday night at the Cameo in Brooklyn, New York.
Xenia Rubinos, who hails from Hartford, Connecticut and is of Puerto Rican and Cuban ancestry, has lived in the borough for the past six years in order to pursue her dreams of musical success. The singer/songwriter looks to be well on her way and doing it on her own terms with the release of her debut album “Magic Trix” on the independent Bada Bing Records label. Rubinos performance at the Cameo was part of a party to celebrate the release of the record and it was met with a packed house full of die-hard supporters.
“It’s a really homemade record. Some of these songs are ten years old but some were written as recently as a year ago”, Xenia says of the album which was co-produced in her basement with drummer Marco Buccelli and engineered by Grammy Award-winner Jeremy Loucas. “Marco is a sound wizard and I would bring these ideas to him and we’d craft them. The record was all tracked live to give that sound as if we were playing live. Marco ran his drums through distortion pedals to get his sounds. In the case of this record its best experienced live.”
As for the music it does display a wide range of musical influences which have enriched Rubinos life and career thus far. Xenia states that her father was a classical music fan who often took her to shows. And while she grew up on salsa and Afro Cuban jazz she developed a healthy appetite for other forms of music. Although she started out as jazz singer and composer being influenced by the likes of Mingus, Abbey Lincoln and the Bad Plus; she would eventually move on to create instrumental and electronic music.
Somewhere on artistic plain between bopping out to Bjork and head nodding to A Tribe Called Quest, Rubinos came to a musical epiphany that would cause the late Kurt Cobain sport a grin that would be the envy of the Kool Aid Man. “I fell in love with ‘Surfer Rosa’”, Xenia opined. “I felt I could relate to the Pixies and Minor Threat when I listened to them. It basically opened the doors for me. Thinking about music in terms of genre became useless. I saw how limiting that was since there’s so much great music. It’s silly and it doesn’t serve any purpose since there’s so much great music out there. I think of it as colors and different tastes.”
It with its authoritative vocals, 1970s Moog sound from the keyboard and Buccelli’s powerful percussive force “Magic Trix” has an appeal that goes across boundaries both ethnic and social. Anyone who attended the show at the Cameo can attest to this. Even hipsters in the crowd were shouting about the need to learn Spanish while in complete awe of the songs “Pan y Café”, “Prendas”, “Ultima” and “Los Mangopaunos” which served as an encore.
“I don’t want to be pigeonholed as a latin artist. I don’t feel I’m a latin artist. I consider myself to be a person making music”, declares Rubinos with regard to her craft and concerns of the growing investment in the “Trillon Dollar” Latino Media Market. “My ethnicity is important to me. It makes me who I am. I do happen to be a Latina woman making music. But I’m not a Latin artist. I feel Latin media doesn’t speak for me or represent me because a lot of the cultural figures that are propagated and promoted don’t reflect me. I don’t hate it nor am I bitter about it. But there is more to us than that. These stereotypes such as Carmen Miranda with a banana on her head are stunting our growth as a people. I let my work speak for itself.”
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