For this installment of Immigrant Songs, I was blessed to have Los Angeles group Chicano Batman live in the KEXP studios. They’ve been getting a lot of attention around the country lately, both by doing some killer opening slots during tours with Jack White and Alabama Shakes and by being on the bill at this year’s Coachella. They also were a part of the two biggest Latin alternative festivals in the U.S.: Chicago’s Ruido Fest and L.A.’s Supersonico. Chicano Batman doesn’t necessarily like being labeled as strictly “Latin,” or labeled as anything really, aside from great music. There’s definitely a Latin influence in what they do, and they sing in both Spanish and English, but really they’re something all their own. It’s soul, it’s psychedelic, it’s all sorts of things in between. And, above everything else, it’s so much fun to watch and listen to.
After their KEXP live session I gave them a call to learn a bit more about them: their roots, their influences, their ideas on what it means to be artists as immigrants and sons of immigrants, and how that affects the music they make. Right out of the gate they challenge classifications, by calling the word “immigrant” a misnomer, instead opting for the word “migrant.” And perhaps rightly so, as no matter your heritage, if you live in the United States or anywhere in the Americas your ancestors migrated here at some point. Listen in as we talk about their musical inspirations, growing up in the diverse landscape that is Los Angeles, how the fusion of cultures is good for the creation of art and how we’re all in the same struggle.
Put on your tuxedo and put aside your preconceived notions and labels of who people are and enjoy the soul of the human experience.
About Immigrant Songs:
Immigrant Songs is a series presented and produced by KEXP, with support from The Vilcek Foundation. Through in-studio performances, interviews with local and national artists, and other written content, co-curators and DJs Darek Mazzone and Chilly will explore the immigrant experience. Read more stories here.
About The Vilcek Foundation:
The Vilcek Foundation was established in 2000 by Jan and Marica Vilcek, immigrants from the former Czechoslovakia. The mission of the foundation, to honor the contributions of foreign-born scholars and artists living in the United States, was inspired by the couple’s careers in biomedical science and art history, respectively, as well as their personal experiences and appreciation for the opportunities they received as newcomers to this country. The foundation awards annual prizes to immigrant biomedical scientists and artists and sponsors cultural programs such as the Hawaii International Film Festival. To learn more, visit Vilcek.org.