Today, as the entire world is being told to self-isolate and self reflect, many are turning to music in order to feed a need for creativity and connectedness. For Angelica Garcia, however, she channeled that very desire for the past few years to create an experimental and impactful album that has become the soundtrack of self expression for many since its release in late February. For four years, Angelica Garcia reflected on her personal journey from the San Gabriel Valley to Richmond, VA in order to write her album. ‘Cha Cha Palace’ takes listeners along with her to the forward journey of cultural change and need for community.
In 2019, Angelica released a single off of the album called ‘Jicama,’ and the way in which the song connected – not only to Angelica’s Mexican and Salvadoran roots but also to the reality of the millions of Latinx families in America – resulted in a co-sign from President Barack Obama in his list of “Top Songs of 2019.” ‘Jicama,’ like the rest of the songs on Cha Cha Palace, is proof that the product of unapologetic pride within music is unparalleled in the way it is received and revered by listeners.
We got the chance to chat with Angelica Garcia about what it was like to write such a revolutionary album and how her journey toward personal self acceptance resulted in becoming an inspiration for every person who clicks play on Cha Cha Palace. Read our interview with Angelica below and soak in all of the hauntingly beautiful moments of the album that makes us all feel a sense of identity, even in a time of isolation.
You grew up in Southern California. Do you feel you were able to connect with other lantix artists who sprung from SoCal?
I am fortunate to have grown up in Southern California, but in many ways I feel like I’m re-learning the scene since I spent a long time away. I will say though that coming back and meeting the next generation of Latinx musicians for the first time has been extremely inspiring and special to me. I am drawn to the power and the urgency of this community.
What kind of music did you grow up listening to?
As a child, I heard everything from American pop, alternative rock, cumbia & Mexican folk music. Ranchera music played in the household when I was small and that is ultimately what taught me how to sing. That being said, I had many “teachers” in music that stemmed from my curiosity and exploration into many genres.
Your song, Jicama, spoke about proudly wearing your roots. How important is it to make music highlighting this topic in our current cultural climate?
It’s important to show exactly who you are because showing that individuality is what raises community that raised you. Though the US is blessed with the advantage of many cultures and perspectives, it often feels as though certain groups are more honestly represented in media than others. The microphone still needs to be passed in a big way. When you wear your roots, you represent another perspective holding the microphone.
What can you tell us about your new album, Cha Cha Palace?
It is my whole heart for the past 4 years.
Was writing such an immense album emotional for you?
Very much so. The distance from my family and culture hit me particularly hard on these new songs. I felt like I was documenting a part of my life I knew wouldn’t be the same by the time I got back to California.
What is your favorite song on the album and why?
I don’t really have a favorite because they’re all a version of how I think. However, I do think I Don’t Believe in Death & The Big Machine are the clearest insight to who I am as a human
How have you seen the music industry make changes in latinx acceptance? How can we highlight latinx artist even further?
I have noticed more representation in media lately which has made me super happy. Everything from T.V. shows to album reviews. The best thing to do is to keep supporting the artists. Watch the shows, buy the albums. Latinx is not a genre. It’s an amazingly diverse community that has all kinds of important stories to tell. Listening and supporting is the truest form of respect.
Where were you when you first saw that Obama listed you out on his music favorites of 2019? How insane of a moment was that for you?
I just couldn’t believe that someone with that high of a profile even knew who I was. My hands were shaking as I was holding my phone. I really appreciated his highlighting the work of so many young people of color. That meant a lot to tiny ol me haha
Who would you list on your list of music favorites of 2019/ 2020 so far?
I love love the newest releases of Y La Bamba , Combo Chimbita, Xenia Rubinos. I love music that empowers me and makes me dance!
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story / Paulette Ely