An interview with Providence, RI punk tropical duo, Malportado Kids ahead of their DC Debut show 10/24 at Judy's
This Tropical dance punk duo from Rhode Island incorporates members from the punk outfit Downtown Boys, who have joined forces to unite their passion for labor organizing, political action and advocacy for people of color and release it via this musical outlet.
You wouldn’t know it from talking to her as her voice is warm and sweet, but Victoria Ruiz (originally from San Jose, CA) has some brutal uninhibited punk vocals up there with the best of them. Kathleen Hanna (Bikini Kill) came to mind when I first listened to her in the song “Mi Concha”. Joey DeFrancesco makes up the second half of los Malportado Kids bringing his music production and event organizing expertise to the mix. They were both very candid and excited to share their message with the DC community this Friday!
Kesta Happening: Tell me about the MalPortado Kids, who are they and where did they come from?
(Malportado Kids): We’re a band and pair of people that use our culture to promote our politics. We come from a constellation of jobs and backgrounds that attempt to create a space for radical, queer, people of color in Providence, RI. I met Joey when we were working together and eventually joined his band the Downtown Boys. It was and still is a very active band and I’ve been going strong with them for three years now. Still the problem with being in a big band (there are 6 of us) is that touring is sometimes not economically feasible. We all have jobs, responsibilities and so it’s hard to get everyone’s schedules to work with shows.
Eventually I started working with Joey on a new kind of sound. Malportado Kids it’s Joey making the backing tracks in garage band and me contributing the lyrics in a bigger scale. We try to get at the day-to-day mundane nuisances of having this type of underepresented identity. We’re very political and about speaking out about the policing structures we deal with on a day to day basis. That’s why I started writing lyrics in the form of chants the way they would sound at a protest. It was difficult at first to learn the style of music but it all came together nicely.
KH: What was the inspiration behind the song “Mi Concha”?
(MK): Mi Concha has kind of a beautiful story to it. We wrote it kind of by chance. I had been working on some screen-printing for an New Urban Arts program and made a self portrait with the words “Mi Concha Isn’t Blanca Enough For you”. The print ended up being censored because it was a teen art program and they thought it was too offensive. I was pissed about it but Joey hung it up in the kitchen. At the time we had just gone through a bedbug problem so we had literally nothing else in the apartment except for that poster. One day we were working on music and Joey suggested that I use those lyrics for a song. It just clicked and so I took the feelings behind the poster about personal relationships to history, and racism, white supremacy, basically all the things I was angry about and put it into the song.
A lot of musicians have formal training and are all about the music, but for us, music is more of a vessel for a lot of emotions and experiences and it’s a way to put those out into the world.
KH: Your Facebook “about” section simply reads: “THE ARTIST MUST ELECT TO FIGHT FOR FREEDOM OR SLAVERY - Paul Robeson” Tell us why you choose this quote and what does it signify to you and your music?
(MK): It’s talking about the need to be explicit as an artist with what you stand for. There is a current in Providence and a lot of other places that art is art for art’s sake and it shouldn’t be political. Our point of view is that this is playing into the hand of the upper classes and that on the contrary art is very political. So we like the quote because it’s clear that you don’t have a choice to be neutral.
It’s definitely at the base of how we make our art. It comes out of an anger that you can’t make apolitical art. It’s a white supremacist idea that there could be apolitical art. For example, a Latin artist makes art and it’s automatically political. So it’s a myth that you can’t be political. This current moment is filled with oppression and state violence, so when you’re creating something it’s going to contribute to that somehow. When you’re making something it’s like your voting and you’re electing and choosing to put this out into the world. Art isn’t separate from protest. So we have to use any medium we can to speak up. Silence has hurt us so hard for so long it’s never going to be a way out of something. We can’t just be silent about something and expect it to go away.
KH: What can people expect from a Malportado Kids show?
MK: We’re hoping that a protest of art and music and political experience. I think about our shows like songs and music that promote a positive future that we dream about and believe in. Otherwise we don’t have anything. We try to bring that. Just like I’m a pocha (born/raised here with Latino parents) our music is a pocha too. It never makes sense wherever we’re at. It never makes sense when we play with other punk bands, or when we play with electronica bands, or when we incorporate Mexican music. It’s just music with underground influences. It’s amazing because it’s everything and it can also be nothing.
We are super excited for this show on Friday because we will be with other Latin artists and supporting something we love. We’re very humbled that we ended up being on this amazing bill.
As far as the show is concerned, we’re mostly coming out with the computer, some percussion, and our projector with multi-media visuals that you will see in the background (kind of like in our Karaoke video). Ooh and we also have a Selena Tribute. People can expect Selena!
Malportado Kids are currently working on a new record due out in early Spring of next year. They promise to play at least one song they have never played live before at their DC show.
Malportado Kids will perform their debut DC show this Friday, October 24th with P3CULIAR (NYC Eerie Cumbia), Frikkitona (DC Queer Reggaeton DJ Duo) and Maracuyeah (Quinceañera bass, tropical amor rhythms) at Judy’s Restaurant!
Tickets are $7-$10 (Flexicover)
Party from 9 – 3am.
For more info about Malportado Kids go here: https://www.facebook.com/MalportadoKids