From Mexico City to Manchester: Alexandra Grant's Personal SASSAS Playlist | KCET
From Mexico City to Manchester: Alexandra Grant's Personal SASSAS Playlist
Alexandra Grant's world is words. The Los Angeles based artist explores words not only as text but as symbols and signifiers, imbued with meanings overt, and often obscured. As part of Society for the Activation of Social Space through Art and Sound's upcoming listening party, Grant will join Andrea Bowers and Brian Kennon in a special performance where they will present music for an audience gathered at house of artists Pae White and Tom Marble.
Artbound recently spoke with Grant who shared some insights behind her set, which is dedicated to her childhood friend, who disappeared from her life.
Alexandra Grant: As someone who doesn't work with sound, but with language, I've admired what SASSAS does. What I do, as an artist in the studio, is private. So it's interesting to bring my works into the public. I like that this event is intimate. It's not like doing a concert at concert hall. This can't be replicated.
My set of music will be dedicated to my friend Carlos. I grew up in Mexico City, in the Coyoacan neighborhood. We all have that friend who has better taste of music than us, and Carlos was the guy with the good taste. Even at seven years old. At that time, you could find music in magazines and the radio, and my friend had cable, and MTV. So when the Sony Walkman came out, Carlos was the one to introduce me to new music. He got me out of U2, the Police and AC/DC, and into Depeche Mode, the Cure and all that. I was a heavy metal kid, and he was like 'what about punk rock?' We grew up together.
Later, he became a man from a Roberto Bolaño novel; he was a revolutionary who believed in the power of poetry. Part of him seemed real, and the rest fiction. He was in L.A. for many years, one day he dropped up this box of tapes, and left L.A. I never played it. That was eight years ago. There have been sightings of him, but no connection since.
So investigating the tape box is like investigating mysterious man. I hope that this set shows how music serves as a memory of relationships. My hope is to weave in a story that I think that anyone who could relate with it. I will DJ in Spanish, and a translator will tell the story. My relationship with Carlos wasn't in English, so I wanted it to be true the story of the box. He's a mysterious man, and I have no idea where he is. But music is our shared memory.
This was the introduction into 1980s emotional British rock. It was completely mind boggling to me at the time. It is still as vital as ever. When I first moved to L.A., I learned about how Depeche Mode was first played in L.A. because of the Mexican American population. Mexican music laments, it's over-the-top, and Mexican music celebrates that sense of darkness and puts rhythms to it. It's a social public space for lament. There's a lot of misery, but articulating it, makes you human. It's ok to be publicly sad in Mexico, and there's an obsession with death too. Death is vital. In Mexico, death is a part of life.
They're a Mexican pop band. They were Latin pop rock, then they became more British sounding. They were the first Mexico City band to make it big. They were like an MTV band. Carlos struggled with being Mexican, and especially struggled with being a Mexican in L.A. He used to say, "pretend I'm Pakistani." It was so different to be Mexican in America, than a Mexican in Mexico.
Laurie was a complete independent maverick. She totally appealed to the self-made artists. Like Brian Eno, she was fearless with technology. She was doubling over her tracks, and she delighted in technology. Carlos was an early adopter of technology, and he liked her vision.
Cri Cri was a man who sang children's songs. Carlos and I grew up with his songs. When Carlos was in Los Angeles, he was would sing his songs to me, like the ones we heard when we were young.
Get tickets to SASSAS' listening party with Alexandra, Andrea Bower, and Brian Kennon.