I’ve had the privilege of being a member of local band Femina-X as a synth and strings player since early July 2015. We’re preparing for the band’s first music video release, “Frida’s Heart,” at the Guadalupe Theater on Nov. 20 and it’s inspired me to reflect on these past few months.
I have observed and learned so much about the dynamic of a room full of active artists. I have been pushed into the wonderful world of electronic composition, and I have discovered the lifestyle that comes with being part of a locally loved band.
We are music from the moon, ocean, aether, mystic core, inner and outer limits, and genome origins; we are avant-garde electronic rock.
The sound of Femina-X is a unique and powerful experience. The use of chants, synths, tribal beats and bilingual vocals makes the experience cathartic, approaching the spiritual.
“Each song is living and growing, as a memory grows and lives within the individual,” said Femina-X lead singer and artist Daniela Riojas.
Although the video “Frida’s Heart” marks Femina-X’s first formal video production, Riojas is no stranger to videography, having made five previous videos, including “You Are the Genome.” As a local photographer and activist, her work often deals with issues of feminism, patriarchy and systemic racism. Riojas also serves as the main progenitor of our artistic directions and endeavors.
A staggering amount of work was required to prepare the 3D projection mapping, costumes and full band coordination for this event. However, the process has taught me so much more about the individuals I’m working with in the band.
When Alex Scheel isn’t busy playing guitar and synths while filling the role of producer for Femina-X, he works as a local artist and is the lead singer in local band Pop Pistol. Scheel often serves as a sounding board for Riojas, a conveyor of ideas, and as a tech engineer and problem solver for arrangements. Jeff Palacios, who contributes bass and chants to Femina-X, is also involved in other musical projects in San Antonio. In addition to finding artists that can contribute to the distinct musical color palette that Femina-X utilizes, he is also the guitarist for Sugar Skulls, Foreign Arm and the bassist for Levees. I’m in the band largely because of him.
Jai Roots, our percussionist, is a musician who has studied in Paris and Mexico with various influential percussionists. Roots serves Femina-X as a direct connection to the tribal rhythms that create the ritualistic atmosphere of our performances. This is a collection of creatives, and a family overflowing with artistic merit and creativity.
It’s important to note that we aren’t just putting things together without a purpose. Despite the very post-modern eclecticism we represent, there is a common goal and approach we have to take with our art.
“These projects can only live if you take the responsibility to give them love, proper treatment, and believe they deserve to be heard,” Riojas said of the preparatory side of art. “It’s about speaking to other people, communicating through these mediums that supersede everyday situations. Art is a higher form of expression and communication.”
We make great efforts ensure that what is expressed is exactly and authentically what the artist intended. The goal for our art stems from our respect for the art itself: to create expression of the highest quality.
This quality can be found in Femina-X’s first album recorded at Sonic Ranch, and the video for “Frida’s Heart.” These projects required months of production work and hours spent in multiple rehearsals each week.
What reward do we get out of doing all this work?
“We do it for those huge small moments of bliss – where everyone is happy to be alive,” Riojas said. “Then once you’ve created that for your audience and yourself, you can go to sleep. Then it’s time to go back to work.”
We invite you to join us on Friday, Nov. 20, 8 p.m. at the Guadalupe Theater for a special Femina-X video release concert. Click here to purchase $10 tickets Use PromoCode: femina for a 50% discount.
*Top image: Femina-X is (from left) Darian Thomas, Jeff Palacios, Daniela Riojas, Alex Scheel, and Jai Roots. Photo courtesy of Femina-X.