Written by: Jennifer Sanchez
Making Movies create music that transcends genres and breaks down the walls of injustice targeting the Latinx community today. The group is comprised of two sets of brothers, Panamanian-Americans Enrique and Diego Chi and Mexican-Americans Juan-Carlos and Andres Chaurand. Together, they blend Afro-Latino rhythms with psychedelic rock’n’roll to create a striking landscape of collaboration that spans across generations, languages, and borders.
The release of their album Ameri’kana back in May served as a call to action to speak out against corruption directed towards Latinxs today. Teaming up with icons Los Lobos, Rubén Blades, and the late Lou Reed, Making Movies was able to create a seamless combination of socially-conscious songwriting and multifaceted sound. Their hope, they mentioned in an interview with Americana Highways, is that “…one day those ills will be a memory.” By creating an important conversation through their music, the group of Latinx rock’n’rollers and activists continue to fight for their community by making their voices heard.
Read the interview with Making Movies below:
Can you talk a little about the album? I know that it has been a collaborative project featuring artists such as Las Cafeteras, Flor de Toloache, Ruben Blades and others.
Well, the album was born out of our collaboration with Ruben Blades. We did a song called “No Te Calles” with him and the song formed the framework for the album because the song is inspiring people to raise their voice against corruption and justice. So then we knew that we needed to make a song that speaks to those social issues that we are all affected by, and while we are making those songs, we also need to inspire other artists to raise their voices with us. In so, that’s what made the album collaborative. It feels like a mixtape, it feels like a radio station, of like-minded people. I’m very proud of it in that way because it has so many of our friends and these are people who believe the same things we believe in.
Was the process an idea that stemmed from Ruben in the beginning or was it triggered by the political climate?
I think both. We had made a record called “I am of the You” and Ruben heard it and he wanted to collaborate with us. He asked what the album was about and the album was about our immigrant families and how I felt interconnected with other people from many different cultures and how we as a band learned from that interconnectivity. Ruben asked me “What are your lyrics about?” and I sent him some of my lyrics and he wrote “No Te Calles”. And after that, we knew that we couldn’t make a record that was about getting drunk in the club or something. Like not saying that it is inherently wrong with that, escapism is fun, it’s part of the entertainment, but it was our moment to make it an escapist record, it was our moment to make a record that speaks to the things that are on our mind. And the political climate changed around us. We’ve been saying “We Are All Immigrants” with the spirit of reminding everyone their ancestors that everyone has migrant ancestors, every human being on the planet. So we’re all migrants, we are all immigrants, we are all human, and that is what we’ve been saying for years, but the word “immigrant” changed tones the second
Donald Trump began running for office, and so we leaned in harder because being an immigrant is a natural part of being of human and to vilify it is evil.
Since you brought up No Te Calles, can you talk about the website “Notecalles.world”?
The song itself was inspired by the lyrics that Ruben wrote and he wanted it to be a vehicle for anyone to be able to raise their voice and not be silenced. So then when we had this opportunity to create a platform we wanted to do the same thing and kind of turn it into an open-sourced song. We’re working on developing another version of the website now that lets people even download and perhaps even create their remix or things like that. That’ll be coming up in the year to come, but the idea was to make a version of the song that a person could insert their own “pregón” and in Spanish, that means like “what they are inspired to say”.
I think the website/idea is very interesting. The way social media is nowadays, it’s a useful tool to not just reach people here in the US but other countries as well. You guys have a few dates ahead of you – San Francisco, Mexico City, and so on. How important is it to share your songs with new audiences?
I think the music contains the message of in itself. The music tells the same immigrant story that we tell with our phrase “We are all immigrants”. If you try to find the origin of any genre or even of any instrument, you’re going to find that it is impossible to create a specific origin because we are all so mixed. And so our music, by not really blending into any genre, it kind of forces you to reexamine your borders and your mind, and I think that by playing that music in front of audiences who perhaps have never been exposed to that and seeing their reaction or letting the music inspire reaction in them, changes the way that they see the world.
What’s one thing you guys are looking into ending the end of the year, musically?
Well, we always do a New Year’s Eve concert in our hometown in Kansas City, which is where the band was formed, and for the concert, we take on a record, so we pick a record that we think says a similar message to us and we tackle it, we wear it as our costume, we’ll play a Making Movies set, and then we play a set of just that record. So this year we are doing Combat Rock by The Clash. It’s a big theatre in Kansas City, it’s super fun, and that came from the fact when we released No Te Calles Rolling Stones said “that this new band, Ruben Blades with Making Movies, they are a band of combat rockers, and I thought “Combat Rockers? Oh, that’s The Clash record – Combat Rock”. We’re closing out the year, we are putting out new music, we haven’t stopped creating and we’re gonna be hitting the road. And you asked why it’s important to play in front of new audiences, it’s important for us to reach out to other audiences. Sometimes we pull tricks, we’re little tricksters, and we make different versions of ourselves so that other performance art spaces and public spaces maybe wouldn’t have a Latino band. If we can disguise ourselves, like go into camouflage, and say “We’re Making Movies, we’re a cultural act”, they don’t realize that we’re punk – you know what I mean, but like in our attitude. We can enter spaces where people haven’t heard this message and then we can deliver this message to them. It’s beautiful to deliver to people like you who already onboard but its more important to speak to folks who just haven’t been exposed to it. And their ignorance creates fear and then the fear creates a whole kind of idea about the world. And so that’s what I’m looking forward to the new year, to continue to do this.
What something you can share with the youth, whether it be advice, inspiration, or thoughts to keep this movement going?
Just that we all grow from them raising their voice and sharing their perspective. We run a music education program in Kansas City. We have a music camp, a young songwriter program, and anytime that we, as musicians, interact with young people, we’re always blown away by their perspective. So for young people, raise your voice, write your music, write your poems, create and share your perspective with the world. With that being done, we are all going to grow by these young people.
Thanks so much for spending the time with me. Good luck on the rest of the tour and thanks for having me out tonight.
Thanks so much, appreciate it.