SAN CHA is definitely one of those artists who I will miss seeing around Los Angeles nightlife, but fuck...thank goddess for the internet so I can keep up with her genius creepy cumbias and brilliant covers of songs (like this Spice Girls number) I wouldn't give a 2nd listen to unless I was trapped at your wedding. San Cha brings the gothic in boleros into relief. Her neo-romantic excess embodies a necessary affective militancy to both original and pop covers and slathers her performances in a fevered frosting of femme exigente supremacy. When she sings her heart out and demands a beer, you better get it for her. After seeing San Cha (Y Las Sirenas, her back up band) in the video for "Desesperada," I had to find out more. Let your curiosity kill you:
When/where/how did you get started in making music?
I was born in San Jose, CA. I spent a lot of my childhood in a small town called Keyes in The Central Valley. And teenage years back in San Jose. I started playing in the 5th grade, when my public school got a bunch of instruments that they were able to lend us. I picked up the flute and would drive my mom insane by practicing day and night and Id take it everywhere I went, I was obsessed.
When did you realize you could sing and what were you singing to early on?
I would spend hours and hours and hours singing to my Selena cassette, straight into the speaker because I thought that no one would hear me if I sang straight into the radio. I always wanted to sing, and "thought" I could sing but was way too shy to do it in front of anyone. I joined the church choir at the age of 12. And I got really involved with singing with the church Spanish choirs, I was there all the time. Then in that same church choir I learned guitar and I sang romantic boleros like "Gema," "Cariño" and "Solamente Una Vez." So my early music repertoire was Selena, church and boleros.
Why the name San Cha?
Sancha means "mistress." I always felt that music was a mistress. What we all turn to when our life is difficult, what we use to have fun to get us in the mood then when you over the noise you put it away. But also, I get to be the complex villain of the telenovela, the one you want to die, but you don't want her to die too soon because you get off on the drama. I separated the word to be San Cha, because as a person growing up Catholic and Mexican Catholic we are always trying to find the right saint to pray to. El Santo de los Ausentes, El Santo de los Inmigrantes etc... And I wanted the name to have that same religious connotation. The saints also kind of play the same role as the side chick because they're side pieces to GOD or Jesus or whatevs. I'm into the idea of polytheism being hidden in a monotheistic agenda. Like you conquered us, but we still have our core. And as a San Cha, I want people to be critical of my work, they can like one song and not the other, they can disagree with my opinions, and they can leave me when they've all they can take from me.
Who are your favorite performers/artists? Who would you say you're influenced by?
Gloria Trevi was really my first obsession that I could remember and I feel like she has subconsciously been the artist that i most embody when I perform. Early on I listened to Selena, and Fey and Britney Spears...when I was a kid I wanted to be a pop star. But as I grew older I found Janis Joplin, Nina Simone, Billie Holliday, Bessie Smith, Chavela Vargas, Amalia Mendoza, people with a lot of pain and feeling. And they are now my main influences.
What do you think of Los Angeles? How has it kept you inspired to perform?
Los Angeles is a lot of things... It's really spread out. It's tiring to have a million things to do, but there is always something to do, more cute people to meet, and friends you don't get to spend too much time with. Los Angeles is full of musicians that want to play and are so down to experiment. It has never in my life been such a free flowing process to find musicians to play with. Also, the PoC are very alive and present, in a way I've never experienced before. Very proud and curious about our own roots and discovering just how deep they run. I've met so many people like me that are also first generation American and/or from working class families that are in also in love and married to their art and who keep creating work without millions of dollars, investors, or publicity. I have friends here that are creating things that they want to see more of, not things that could make them dollars, and that inspires me to keep going and not care about who's listening or who's commenting or how many likes/plays i get.
How would you describe your public?
I would like to think that these are a people who believe in fluidity and are excited by new work who aren't necessarily trying to put names or price tags on anything. I like playing for audiences where the majority identify as queer, those shows always turn out to be the most fun for both me [and them].
What is your relationship to the word FEMME?
Femme goes beyond what we wear, whether we wear pants or dresses or having long or short hair. As a FEMME, I do not want to conquer and destroy, instead I want to disarm all my feeling of competitiveness and create a space where we bring each other up. We know that there is room for everyone and do not calculate our success or worth in album sales, or IG followers. I've had it with intense power dynamics, this masc world carries too much envy and ego and I want to operate outside of that in my chosen FEMME world.