This exclusive web extra features a performance by Ceci Bastida, formerly of Tijuana No!, singing the The Clash favorite "Spanish Bombs." In this exclusive interview with KCET, Ceci talks about her music and how Ricardo Flores Magón continues to be a source of inspiration.
How did you start playing music?
Ceci Bastida: I began playing music in Tijuana with a band called Tijuana No! I began at age 15 and was with the band until about '96. I lived by the beach in Tijuana, in a community that has grown, but at the time it was quite small. Everyone knew each other. The bassist of Tijuana No! lived a block away from me. He knew I played piano and said, 'Some friends are getting together, why don't you come over and play keyboards.' I went with my Casio keyboard and we began to practice. At the beginning there was a large crowd and everyone played but as time passed, some people left to do other things and we stayed. Little by little, we began composing music and started having shows. Everything happened almost by accident. But that's how it began. After that I toured with Julieta Venegas from 2000 to 2008, singing choruses and playing keyboard. In 2008, I started focusing on my career as a solo musician.
What message did Tijuana No! want to communicate?
What did Tijuana No! want to communicate with its music? More than anything, it was to speak about issues happening around the world, especially the injustices. As a group, we wanted to communicate different things. In general, we were speaking about things that occurred around the world. Everything related to social themes and politics in Mexico. We spoke about a lot of things. We could touch the topic of Mexican leaders and the corruption that exists in our country, but at the same time we could talk about the United States and Mexico's relationship with the United States.
Our second album came out in '94, that was when the Zapatista Army of National Liberation became well known. It was a very important time and it forced everyone to look at Mexico and realize what was happening to the indigenous communities, not just the ones living in the south of Mexico, but in all of the country. This situation shook the country. On the other hand, this was also the time that the North American Free Trade Agreement was signed. More than anything, this affected the indigenous communities, their economies, agriculture, and how impossible it was to compete with the United States. Around this time also, a presidential candidate from the PRI party was killed in Tijuana. A lot of things happened that year. Tijuano No! got together in '89 but '94 was an important time, not just for us but for several musicians who all of a sudden began to speak more openly about the injustices that were occurring in the country.
Your cover of The Clash's "Spanish Bombs" is a classic in the Rock en Espanol genre. Why did you decide to interpret it and what did you discover by doing so?
We were practicing one day and we started playing songs that we liked, one of them being a song by The Clash, called "Spanish Bombs." We did it, more than anything, because we enjoyed it. We would practice and all of the sudden say, 'Let's play that song.' We were going to record our second album in the Basque Country with a musician named Fermin Muguruza. He came to Tijuana to see how our demos were advancing. One day, we were playing the song and he said, 'You have to record it.' At first, I didn't like the idea of recording a cover but it made sense because of the theme of the song. Because we were going to be recording in the Basque Country, everything aligned itself perfectly. We decided to record it. He sang choruses on the song and that's how it happened.
When we first recorded "Spanish Bombs" it was fast, a little like ska. When I began my career as a solo musician, I started including it in performances but I wanted to perform it differently because I didn't want to perform ska. We decided to do a calmer version. Quetzal heard it and thought it was a good idea to perform that version and also incorporate different instruments that I hadn't incorporated before.
What is Ricardo Flores Magón's influence today?
I think that he is one of those figures who continues to inspire the revolutions of the world. I'm not saying that he's an influence in the Middle East, for example, but he is definitely an influence to people fighting social injustices, especially in Mexico. I think he's presently in the minds of people. Also, in Mexico there's a constant fight for the land, for justice, for equitable distribution of resources and so, I think he continues to be a very relevant figure. For several years now, Mexico has been experiencing a series of changes, yet the poor keep getting poorer and the rich keep getting richer. Unfortunately, I think that it's a subject that needs to remain in our mind. I say unfortunately because things haven't changed or improved. On the contrary, I think things are going backward again.
Magón lived in Los angeles and he also traveled to Tijuana. Does that political connection continue today?
Sure. I think Los Angeles has a very important Latino presence and a very strong Mexican community. In fact, when I came to live in Los Angeles, I came here because it seemed like a very familiar city. I didn't feel like I was in a strange place. In fact, I grew up in Tijuana right next to San Diego and you know what, San Diego seems completely strange to me. San Diego is a very different and distant city, even though I grew up right next to it. Los Angeles has a strong presence of Mexicans and you know, it is a an exchange of people and an exchange of money and an exchange of many things. So, definitely.
About Ceci Bastida
Ceci Bastida was born and raised in Tijuana, Mexico. At the age of 15, she joined Tijuana NO as a lead vocalist, keyboardist and songwriter and became one of the first women to rise in the ranks of Latin rock. One of Mexico's most important ska-punk bands of the 1990, Tijuana NO performed together for 12 years and recorded three albums for BMG: NO, Transgresores de la Ley, and Contra-Revolucion Avenue. In 2000, Ceci joined the band of Mexican alterna-pop icon and top-selling Sony/BMG recording artist Julieta Venegas and has been singing back-up vocals and playing keyboards with her ever since. Ceci is now embarking on her first project as a solo artist.