Q&A: Pistolera's Sandra Velasquez On Singing In Spanish, Criss-Crossing The Country, And Rapid-Response Songwriting
The powerhouse NYC quartet Pistolera started out meshing uptempo, Latin party music with politically engaged lyrics, but on their third release El Desierto y la Ciudad (Luchadora), they shift into a more atmospheric mode, offering a suite of songs meant to be heard in sequence and all together. Lead singer Sandra Velasquez talked about the album with us over email while on the road.
What's the single biggest musical change between your previous releases and this one, in your mind?
Our first two albums kind of branded the band as being a Latin party band with political lyrics. With this album, we move away from that. This album is a concept album, about a journey between the deserts of the West and New York City. It is meant to be listened to from beginning to end and was recorded with the idea that it was a soundtrack. There are interludes that escort the listener along the journey.
Even though the album is meant to be heard as a complete work, if you could pick one song that sums up Pistolera in 2011, what would it be?
Yikes. Hard question. I have to pick two songs, "El Desierto y la Ciudad" and "Nueva York." This year we are all about showing that we have what I call quiet power, with songs that are soft and mellow yet still powerful, while still maintaining that we can get people out of their seats and onto the dance floor.
How do you feel about the general lack of political engagement in the contemporary rock scene? Is it still possible to wake people up through music, or are indie kids in New York generally too comfortable to give a shit?
I think both are true. Music as well as other art forms can and does help raise consciousness, and there will always be people who don't care. Not everyone looks for meaning in music. There certainly is a preaching to the choir aspect with songs that have social/political messages and the people that are drawn to them. They like them because they already agree with their message. Nevertheless, music helps fuel certain ideas into public consciousness.