Mexican Ska-Punk Pioneer Ceci Bastida Talks New Album and Activism
You may not have heard of Latin rock star Ceci Bastida just yet, but you need to know her work — not only her music, but also as a feminist and activist for immigrant rights.
Ceci started out as a founding member of ska-punk band Tijuana No as a teenager. Fast forward to now, and Ceci is a Latin Grammy-nominated solo artist with memorable tunes such as “Cuando Vulevas a Caer,” with subject matter spanning all the way from immigration, gun violence and the drug war. She’s also in a radical Morrissey/Smiths tribute band called Mexrissey, which throws her into the most awesome women ever category, without question.
She recently toured with big names such as Ty Dolla $ign, Gallant, Kimya Dawson, Los Rakas, and more, on the #Schoolsnotprisons tour, a cause that she heavily supports because it focuses on putting money towards raising the quality of schools.
Today, her new album Sueño will be available on all platforms. From upbeat dance tracks like “Un Sueño” (featuring Aloe Blacc), to the hip hop-inspired “No Voy A Regresar” (featuring MIS), the six song EP has us covered from killer dance beats to slower grooves with great vocal melodies.
Check out the album and our Q&A with Ceci below!
Where are you from and how did you realize you could make music?
I’m from Tijuana, Mexico, and I got interested in music because my mom played piano so I would listen to her practice every day. Eventually, I took piano lessons and later on joined a band and became the keyboard player and one of the singers. Never thought about it as a career, it just felt right and it was a lot of fun for me.
Who are some of your influences?
I think my influences are a bit more sonic and it comes from all the music that I’ve listened to since I was a teenager. The Clash is one of the bands that I always go back to, I think they had so many things I liked, lyrically super interesting and political, their music was different, well written and interestingly structured.
If you were to tell someone about your music that hasn’t heard it — how would you want it described?
Heavy beats, elements of electronic music, melodic, strong horn section. A mix of many things, but it makes sense.
You’ve been said to be one of the first women to rise in the ranks of Latin Rock starting with Tijuana NO, how does it make you feel to be a pioneer and example to other young women?
It’s funny cause I’ve never really thought about it. At the time it never crossed my mind, I was young and trying to do what I loved to do. I was always hard on myself, wanted to be better and never thought that I could be an example for anyone really. I think nowadays, I get to talk to people more that come up to me and say that they loved what I did when I was with Tijuana No and it’s very flattering that after so many years people still connect with the music we made back then.
Activism and feminism play a big role in your life, what inspired you to get into that?
It started with Tijuana No really. I was really young and the rest of the members were older than me and some of them were super political and I just learned from them. We did so many benefits for different causes and met so many incredible people that it became part of who I am.
What are the most important political movements or messages to you personally?
There are so many things that I think about and would like to be involved with somehow. I think immigration is a huge one, especially now that I live in the US and see all of the obstacles people face once they are here. Violence is another thing that concerns me, all kinds of violence, gun violence, violence against women.
Your music covers everything from immigration to gun violence, do you think it’s important to combine art with political statements?
For me, it is, and it might not be for someone else and that’s ok. It’s hard for me to ignore everything I see around me and not talk about it because it affects me as a human being. It’s hard not to talk about gun violence when you hear about people getting killed with guns everyday, or when school shootings have become a common thing here.
How is the #SchoolsnotPrisons tour/message important to you?
I think we’ve decided to invest in prisons rather than in schools. There is such a huge disparity in the quality of schools everywhere that not everyone has the same opportunities. It’s almost as if we’ve forgotten about kids and what amazing things they can do. We need good schools that expose these kids to a lot of different things so they can find out what they are passionate about.
What’s next for you?
Releasing this album and doing shows in support of it but also keep writing and collaborating with other artists cause that has been incredibly enriching.
Where can we find out more about you and your music?