HAPPY PRIDE 2020 baby. In this colorful, shape shifting, globalized world, more and more voices are coming to the forefront. Today, Ladygunn talks to Brooklyn-based Colombian singer Manchado about the Latin influences in his addicting, ever-popular music, coming out to his family, racism in Colombia, and what the revolution looks like!
Enjoy Manchado x Ladygunn below.
How are you?
Right now I’m just working on finishing my album, while being quarantined! Sometimes I might go out and visit friends but I’m kind of just staying and working on music and new videos. I was able to record something recently…I performed at Miami pride, measures are being brought down. Everybody was happy to be a part of it, so I was able to make it happen. It was hard to get a studio that was open…but hey! There was one and they let me do it!
I watched the performance, and it looked great!
Oh wow! We only had like four hours to rehearse it and do it. My house isn’t big enough to have people over to practice…the camera, everything. But it went well.
What else have you been working on?
That’s pretty much it. Mainly just finishing my album. My manager was trying to get a publishing deal, anyone who can help with funds to promote it. I’m trying to have everything ready so I can pitch it.
When is that slated to come out?
Probably later this year…right now I’m just trying to finish it haha.
What’s the sound like?
The music that I released a long time ago was more indie pop…now everything is very based on Latin sounds and how I can reinterpret those. The first singles from it were the first songs that I did – very reggaeton. From that, I started developing it more. For example, when I do my shows I have live percussionists and play with salsa sounds so it started evolving.
I’m looking forward to it. It feels like you just started tapping into that Latin background. Was Como La Flor your gateway drug?
*laughs* In a way I think it actually was. I remember performing, and everytime I do a cover song I want to do a song that everybody knows. And when I performed everybody sang along! I wrote Courageous, mostly English but has bits of Spanish, but it’s very Reaggaton, then I did Asesina, and it kept going from there.
That’s really good to hear. So how are you doing with the pandemic and black lives matter?
Right now I’m in Bogota, Colombia, the capitol. It’s like a smaller New York, metropolitan city, 6million people. Kinda like Mexico City in a way. There’s public transportation…and that’s a big way for people to get the virus. So they shut everything down the second week in March. You couldn’t use public transportation, I actually got a fine! Children couldn’t go out…only for groceries. Colombians won’t follow the rules *laughs* I think that’s why it’s so strict. But it’s kind of getting better.
In terms of Black Lives Matter…people think there’s no racism. Even though this is a very racist country. Especially the city that I live in. There are a lot of black people in Colombia but they’re mostly in the Pacific Coast and Caribbean Coast. The city that I’m in is very classist and racist. People see protests I’ve seen on my end, of the people that I know, people are talking about it a little. People are just observing whatever happens and America but they don’t think it applies here. Something that shook me recently…in the news, they were saying how all the slave owner statues were being demolished…and I always go in the comments because I love to see what people are thinking, and people were upset!! They were saying this is unnecessary, why are we erasing history. In Colombia! And I was like…colonizers really did something to the minds of the people. And that’s the vibe. It’s a very small portion of the population that really sees the racism that goes on.
Have you taken any measures?
I try to donate and educate people as much as I can. My Colombian audience isn’t really that big. I’ve been here for very little, and know a limited amount of people. But I try to repost as much as I can. I try to filter through the information and post the most helpful resources.
That’s the best thing we can do, cause at the same time we’re educating ourselves.
Yeah. Especially as people of color in the entertainment industry. You become very aware of white supremacy and affected by it. My friends and I have been talking about this for quite a while and when everything went down it was a reinforcement.
Do you see any changes in your immediate creative process or music?
Well it was definitely really hard to work on anything when George Floyd died. I couldn’t focus on anything. A lot of my album…you know, Latin music comes from black music. Taking respect where it’s due. Reggaeton and salsa comes from black people. A lot of rhythms that I use come from black people, so just being mindful that that’s what I’m doing.
As a Latino, here we’re so mixed. Part of us are white and indigenous and have black blood. So in a way, its like where do I stand in all this? Of course in solidarity with black people.
Right! We see that it’s a little harder for us. If you were to do your first show, where would you envision your first show to be after all this?
I would love it to be in New York where all my friends are. For example when I went on tour last year, when you’re with your people everybody knows the songs and have seen the journey. Like when I had blue hair! They’ve seen the progression and appreciate it.
What’s the worst show or venue you’ve had?
Oh my god so many. To get this point *laughs* I’ve had so many bad experiences.
Spill the T!
I was trying to book as many places as I could and I was like ok lets go to Texas! I want to see my family. Let’s do it. The venue ended up being this comedy club and there weren’t that many people. The other acts were not into it…and I was like I came all the way here to play this show and it’s just…not it *laughs*
So what’s been your best show so far? Best venue?
As of recent, I did one in New York at a gay bar in Brooklyn! A lot of my friends showed up, it was packed. People were singing along, it was great. Another one was at the Berlin in New York. It was the first show I did with my Latin songs. I had a Latinx line up…
Oh we love a theme.
We were going for it. I had artists come with artwork, everybody was really in it.
Nice. With Pride, a lot of people were saying it was cancelled! At the same time, that narrative changed a bit because people want to celebrate it. What’s the energy for you as a queer person of color in pride?
Right. This pride was going to be extra special for me because I recently came out to my parents. For the first time I’m able to be completely queer and talk about it. I think it was implicit that I was queer but because I knew my parent swatched my social media i didnt wan to talk too mucha bout it. Now that it’s all good, I really just want to be out there! It’s something I’m really starting to understand – that this is who I am and I don’t care. It took me a long time, especially as a musician, to feel like I don’t care. You might not be accessible for other audiences, right. It’s just a moment for me personally to say…I am going to be successful and like, the gays do it better!
Haha, period! How was that conversation though?
Well, coming out to my parents was almost accidental. Ever since I came back to Colombia…while I was working on building more of a portfolio to get my artist visa…it was really hard with my mom. She’s Christian and ever time I’ve heard her talk about gay people, she had been dismissive. It started to make me really resentful and I started avoiding her. But we lived in the same house.
Then she asked me why I was acting like this and I said, Look mom. I’m acting like this because I think you won’t accept me because I’m gay. Like, I’m tired. We just had the conversation and little by little, she’s getting accustomed to it. It’s definitely hard for her. I’m like mom, gay people exist – black people exist – non binary people exist – I’m exposing this!
Recently, trans people have been dying in Colombia. There was an instance where a trans woman was denied into an ambulance because she had HIV and because she was trans. I try to have these conversations with my mom but she takes this approach of exiting. Like, don’t be ruled by your sexuality.
At least you’re starting to have the conversation.
The world is changing, we’re not going to be silenced, I’m going to make all y’all uncomfortable!
Like you said the world is changing fast! What do you think the revolution for POC, queer, trans, black lives in Colombia looks like?
For example, in America people really speak and lash out. They believe in their rights. They believe in the right of change. In Colombia, we were at war for literally hundreds of years…with our guerrilla groups, armed groups, military groups. There was a long time where people in power, if anyone spoke out, would just kill you. There’s a big fear of speaking out in Colombia because it was recent.
In December, there was a huge protest because the corruption is so bad. The resources of the people…it’s just stupid shit. But in America specifically, I think the revolution is POC, queer, black, trans people having the opportuniteis that are given to whtie people. That’s really all people are fighting for, it’s not that crazy. People aren’t fighting for extra credit! We’re just fighting for RIGHTS!
I saw someone speak recently and the thing that got me the most…gave me chills…she went on this amazing rant and said “You guys are lucky that we only want equality and not revenge!”
Exactly!! And not to be dismissed because you’re “whatever.” As POC/queer, especially when I was younger, people would compeltely ignore me even though I wrote all my own music and videos. There was a girl who was white who didn’t write anything and they picked eer! I’ve seen this shit, it’s happened to me so many times. Then they had me work for her!
We’re always behind the white girl. Why can’t we be the “it”? That’s just as an entertainer. And it expands into the whole thing!!
So what does the revolution look like for you?
It looks like the world with no police. Fair opportunity for everybody. No deporting. Just a fair society for everybody, not just a few. The majority of America is still white, but we’re preparing ourselves. This is the transition because white people will be a minority in America in 2050. That’s not that far.
I love how people are not buying performative acts right now. From companies. People in power think like – Oh, put a black girl in here, and it’ll be okay. But people are not buying it and that is just such a huge step.
LADYGUNN PRIDE 2020