Cava

The fiber optic lamp that Rubinos recreated for the cover of Una Rosa

A fiber optic flower lamp that played Jose Enrique Pedreira’s “Una Rosa”

Xenia Rubinos: My great-grandma had one of these in her bedroom when I was a kid, and I used to sit fascinated by the changing colors and the melody it played. The melody found me as a child and then later in high school on a bootleg CD of Puerto Rican danzones as I tried to plunk it out on the piano at school. After forgetting it for years, it found me again in Bed-Stuy on a sleepless morning during a period of total breakdown. It took me time to track down the composer and recording of it, [so at first] I was working from memory to make my own arrangement. I had flautist Domenica Fossati come in and play the melody, and then Marco Buccelli and I fleshed out the electronic palette around it. This record takes place at night, and the color-changing lamp is a portal into the musical world of this album. That piece of music and the flower lamp image really grounded the whole record for me.


Cuban ballet and Wendy Carlos

I was obsessed with finding old Cuban music that blended classical with electronic music and also the image of the Cuban ballerina. I found this documentary online, Las 4 Joyas del Ballet Cubano, and there was a snippet of a ballet called Conjugacion. It had music like what I was imagining. I traveled to Cuba to try to find a recording but went home empty-handed. But I realized very quickly that’s not why I went: I was really missing my dad, that world of him that is no longer. I think some of my fascination with that ballet and this music is very much from that place.

Years later, as I started doing interviews for this album, a journalist said parts of it reminded her of the electronic composer Wendy Carlos. Her recordings aren’t widely available, so I had to order a record online. Much to my surprise, when it arrived, I realized that the snippet of music from Las 4 Joyas del Ballet Cubano that I’d been obsessed with was a sample of Wendy Carlos’ Switched-On Bach, where she played Bach masterpieces on Moog synths. There is some of that flavor in the record, and I’m glad that even without knowing what it was, it came through enough for someone to shout that record out to me.


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El Chacal de la Trompeta from Sábado Gigante

This is another memory from my abuela’s house, watching Sábado Gigante in our pajamas on Saturday night. It was a variety show with comedy skits, musical guests, and games. And at one point, the studio audience was invited to sing karaoke and be judged by the audience. El Chacal de la Trompeta was this hooded character who would play the trumpet in your face if they didn’t like your singing, and you would get thrown out by the audience [screaming], “Fueraaaa, fuera!” (“Out! You’re out!”). It was the best part of the show. I ended up going down a YouTube rabbit hole one night in the studio and found clips from those segments and put a few of them in “Working All the Time.” It was fun to bury those samples in there and see people singing these super dramatic love songs on that show. Karaoke makes me want to cry. There’s something so heartbreaking about watching people sing their favorite songs.


Divas and drag queens

My abuela always sings “Amarga Navidad” by Lucha Villa, which is such a tragic over-the-top performance. I found a video of Lucha Villa singing this in a movie and watched it a lot as I was getting ready to do vocal takes of “Ay Hombre,” which is my homage to that tradition. In 2019, I started this character called Xenia 2020, an alter-ego that would sing boleros. I was pretending to be a singer, which was kind of strange, but I had to pretend to be this diva that I wasn’t comfortable being myself. That fascination with divas was something that I wanted to explore on Una Rosa. But I think not only of characters like Lucha Villa or Chavela Vargas, but also the representation of the ultra-femme. I felt like the ultra-femme has this element of drag to it as well. No one can be more femme and more diva than a drag queen.


Rita Indiana’s classic 2010 album El Juidero

El Juidero changed my life. That album flips everything upside down on its head, taking the traditions of merengue and mixing it with electronic music and rock. In my humble way, I was trying to do that with “Sacude” without worrying if it was rumba or hip-hop. I was just telling my translation of what and how I hear that music.

Source : https://pitchfork.com/features/moodboard/xenia-rubinos-una-rosa-interview/

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How Drag Queens, a Flower Lamp, and Cuban Ballet Inspired Xenia Rubinos’ New Album

Source:Pitchfork

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