“This is an important night for me as I revisit where I started and where I am now,” says Melissa Ruizesparza Rodriguez, the artist behind the multifaceted and experimental project of Saakred. On hiatus for eight months, Rodriguez returns to Hi-Tones this weekend to revisit her 2013 LP FLY HI and introduce us to some new sounds.
Though Rodriguez gained momentum late in 2013 with the enigmatic, emotional FLY HI, the realities of performance provided an unfortunate burnout. “The problem is, real avant-garde performance art in a music club is completely out of place,” says Rodriguez. “Being queer, being a womyn, being political and being loud in the South is confrontational in itself. But then to start physically confronting the audience, through my body or by projecting images of humanity’s decline on a wall behind me—it’s gonna piss people off or it’s going to speak to those that feel what I feel. Apparently, I’ve done both successfully. But, it was incredibly taxing on my spirit, so I stopped. August 9 will be eight months since I performed those songs.”
Previously, the Saakred band felt like an instrumental extension of the electronic work: abrasive, in your face (quite literally in performance) and infused with CPU-composed noise. But the new group material, expressed as a trio, resonates differently. “It still looks, tastes and feels like the same raw heart, but it sounds like Lead Belly and Nina Simone’s child just started a punk band,” says Rodriguez.
Rodriguez describes the Saakred material as “two-spirited,” a phrase with rich history in Native American cultures. “‘Two-spirit’ is a word used to describe native folks like myself, who do not fit the gender binary of man or woman and do not assume the dress, behaviors or roles of such,” Rodriguez explained. “Two-spirit folks have been documented in close to 200 tribes across the Americas. Two-spirits carry strong medicine, and back in the pre-colonial days, we were held with high regard as healers, keepers of oral histories and songs, prophets, and so on.”
This two-spirit identity carries into the music of Saakred, with both facets on display on Saturday. In trio form, the new Saakred is heady punk with disorienting, slow decay reverb and arresting chants from Rodriguez. Solo, it’s that same, vicious, politically charged electronic aesthetic expected from Rodriguez. With Los Sheilaquiles, Pussywillows and DJ Neto. $3, 10pm Sat, Aug 9, Hi-Tones, 621 E Dewey, (210) 785-8777.
Yes, nostalgia comes in cycles, waves of wistful return to prior aesthetics and mediums, a longing for the old way of things—usually the process takes about 10 to 15 years to find its groove. In the past few years (right on time), tapes have come back into musical vogue, cut by bands looking to get their music on an old-school physical medium. But nostalgia isn’t the driving factor for this cassette culture—it’s the low-budget accessibility that’s swaying bands and upstart labels to release music on the thin ribbons of black magnetic tape.
Earlier this year, San Antonio natives Ryan Smith and Hunter Hoogee started Yippee Ki Yay Records, a label pressing their favorite tunes onto tape. “The name itself,” Smith told the Current, “stems from our mutual desire to channel our Texan roots into something fun and quirky.” Not, as I assumed, from a love of Die Hard. “There’s a ton of super rad music being produced outside the U.S. right now,” Smith says. “Creating a platform to help artists from around the world release and distribute their music here in the states for American listeners on vinyl and cassette formats is a major part of what we aim to do.” In June, Yippee Ki Yay released a tape from Paris trio BACON FUDGE, whose self-titled album is a delightfully shabby take on Anglophone punk.
Though they’re on the prowl for international music, Yippee Ki Yay has their scope set within 1604 as well. “Hunter and I grew up here in San Antonio,” says Smith. “This city is our home, and it’s a special community we’re damn proud to be a part of. Doing anything and everything we can to give back and assist some of the incredible artists here and in other parts of Texas is a huge part of the picture moving forward.”
In the coming months, Smith says Yippee Ki Yay is “working on a new batch of vinyl and tape releases … exploring the possibility of projects with some Canadian fellows, English chaps, Texas acts and our BACON FUDGE amigos.”
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