Video Premiere: “Carla Cabrona” by Mx. Matías
Los Angeles based multi-instrumentalist Mx Matías brings cabrona energy and community to the front in the video premiere of “Carla Cabrona.”
Mx. Matías is a Los Angeles-based trans-feminine musician who uses her Peruvian and Uruguayan ancestry to create kinetic tracks that traverse a wide range of genres, including cumbia, merengue, rock, and house. As a multi-instrumentalist and producer, Mx. Matías is an integral part of the Los Angeles queer and trans music community, having worked with San Cha, Michati, YGSLRHSTFUT, and more.
Today, Mx. Matías releases “Carla Cabrona,” the second single and video from her debut solo album, La Caída y Transcendencia de Carla Cabrona y Las Cochinas. The merengue punk track introduces Carla Cabrona, the half-goat trans-feminine icon summoned by a cult of queer femmes, known as Las Cochinas, who are waging war against the patriarchy. When their raucous good time in nature is interrupted by a macho stranger, Carla Cabrona puts him in his place. Soaring classical Spanish guitar played over infectious drum beats and Mx. Matías’s dynamic vocals will have you up and dancing alongside Carla Cabrona and Las Chochinas, unleashing your most unapologetic and authentic self.
La Caída y Transcendencia de Carla Cabrona y Las Cochinas will be released episodically as a series of 10 singles every month throughout 2021 with accompanying visuals that will continue the story of Carla Cabrona.
Watch and listen to “Carla Cabrona” below, premiering exclusively on She Shreds. And be sure to join Mx. Matías this Friday, April 23rd at 8 PM PST for a virtual release party on Zoom with performances by herself, San Cha, Tyler Holmes, and Mayalopolis, plus DJ sets by Linda Nuves and GFUNKTRECE by following this link.
First of all, I really appreciate the self-identified musical landscape you create within. Can you tell me more about what it means to make “community-oriented queer & trans Latinx music”? In what ways does your community and identity play a role in how you create—and in particular, how you wrote “Carla Cabrona”?
I write music primarily to celebrate and uplift myself and my trans community. “Carla Cabrona,” in particular, exalts the power of transfemmes in the face of patriarchy. As I came into my transfeminine identity and began to share space with other transfemmes, I was struck by how unapologetic many of the girls are. They’ll tell off anyone, especially cis folks—and especially men!—who are being problematic: transphobic, classist, racist, ableist, etc. They don’t hesitate to step in and speak up for themselves or their siblings. And if, goddexxx forbid, there is a threat of physical violence, they’ll pepper spray any atrevido who’s coming at them.
That’s pure Cabrona energy right there, and it’s so deeply inspiring. It’s very difficult to find that self-assured strength when most of the world denies and erases your identity, but it’s through the healing power of community that we learn to love ourselves and tap into that power.
I originally wrote “Carla Cabrona” while thinking about a friend of mine. I asked her if she wanted to be Carla, but she said, “Boo, why don’t you do it?” At first I thought, “No, I couldn’t…” but then I started to see and embrace the Cabrona in myself. Carla Cabrona became my transition—or more specifically, my transformation song. Before I identified as trans, I was quite dedicated to being a little angel: following the rules and making everyone like me. Classic Libra… but as a trans person, you can’t afford to care about any of those things. Our mere existence already breaks all the rules of this cis/heteronormative world. So dang, might as well transform into a badass half-goat trans bitch and trample anyone who gets in your way.
It’s apparent in this song that there’s so many varying influences, from merengue to electronic and punk. What’s your musical background?
I grew up playing piano and later drumming in bands, but it wasn’t until I taught myself guitar that my musical world blew wide open. Through guitar I explored so many genres no one in school or lessons thought to teach me: cumbia, bossa nova, nueva canción, bolero, candombe. These are sounds from my parents’ continent, sounds that my grandparents loved, sounds that nurture my soul as I play.
The guitar also finally led me to grasp music theory as I spent countless hours studying these songs’ chords and melodies, then applying what I’d learned to write my own music.
I started messing around with Logic because I wanted to record my compositions, but that rapidly got out of hand. I would fall into portals, obsessively tweaking knobs, adjusting automation curves, and applying effects until it sounded just right. As I sank deeper and deeper I started experimenting with the plugin drum machines and synthesizers, making electro-cumbia and house beats. One day I emerged from one of these portals and thought, “Damn girl, I guess you’re a producer now.”
I now produce for the electro trans girl group Michati, I drum for the TGNC [Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming] punk band YGSLRHSTFUT, and I play guitar in San Cha’s band. For my solo record, I wanted to use all the techniques and sounds that I’ve been called to explore over the years and merge them into one cohesive product that represents every musical side of me.
La Caída y Transcendencia de Carla Cabrona y Las Cochinas is your debut LP that will be released as 10 episodic singles, each telling the developing story of Carla Cabrona, her cult of trans femmes, and their battle against God. In a way, the concept feels like a music-focused version of the telenovela. Can you talk about the concept and inspiration behind the narrative LP, and how long this project has been in the works?
For the past few years, I have been embodying both the Archangel Gabriel and Carla Cabrona. I felt called to research the Archangel because Gabriel is my middle name and when I saw the depictions of them through the centuries I thought, “Oh my goodness, this bitch is trans.” Just google her and you’ll see what I mean. Since then, I had this story floating around in my head of the Archangel Gabriel escaping el Señor (God) and the patriarchal kingdom of heaven to live her trans life on Earth.
Separately, I kept having visions of Carla Cabrona and other half-animal trans girls living these glorious, radically hedonistic lives while fighting the patriarchy. There are so many insults in Spanish that come from animal names—‘cabrona’ is from cabra (goat), ‘perra’ is a female dog, and there are so many different names for pigs, all of which are insults. These insults are regularly used against people, especially femmes, who are deemed too aggressive, too sexual, too dirty, too fat, etc. I thought it would be iconic to reclaim these words with powerful trans characters who are literally half-animals, saying, “Yeah, we’re all those things and more. We are more beautiful than any conventional beauty standard, we are stronger than any well-behaved ciswoman, and it’s what makes us magical.”
When quarantine started last year I spent every day in my room making music, and as I created more and more the larger concept began revealing itself to me: the Archangel Gabriel is Carla Cabrona, she escapes heaven and transitions into a half-goat femme creature on Earth. Here, she meets other femmes like her and they form a cult called Las Cochinas. Together they wage war against El Señor, the Christian God who represents patriarchal and colonial violence.
More than a telenovela, I consider it a legend or a saga. It’s the practice of mythologizing my life and the lives of my siblings: embodying ancient spiritual beings like angels and satyrs, and representing them as trans; creating our own mystical stories; and claiming our place amongst the divine beings that have forever guided human existence.
The record is complete, but there’s so much more work to be done to fully tell the story! With the support of my community, I’m working to create a video to accompany each song. I’m also collaborating with KBRA, an incredible artist and illustrator in Perú, to create a graphic novel depicting Carla y Las Cochinas’ saga. I can’t wait to share everything that’s in the works!
Tell me about your community featured in the video, as well as any of the people who helped make this video, song, and LP possible.
Every gorgeous being featured in the video has played a profound role in my personal transformation from Ángel to Cabrona. They are all artists, organizers, and/or activists who are deeply dedicated to our community.
Michaé De La Cuadra, my partner in the trans girl group Michati, and Chella Coleman, the fearless leader of the punk band YGSLRHSTFUT, are two tireless activists and dear friends who are also featured on the seventh and eighth tracks of the album. Each of them play another half-animal trans being who helps lead the fight against el Señor. Don’t fret—their characters will be revealed in due time.
Lu Coy, my first nonbinary musical collaborator and fellow San Cha bandmate, plays the raging, screaming saxophone on the track and appears as La Lora Lu in the video. This was the first song we ever worked on together and it sparked the beginning of a beautiful friendship and creative partnership.
Layla Nour, my beloved neighbor and one of my eternal soulmates, rocks those big black wings in the video while she caresses an acoustic guitar. She doesn’t readily admit it, but she’s a very accomplished guitarist and when I found out I begged her to play with me. She’s now a part of the band, and we’ll be performing together at the release party along with Lu, Mayalopolis, and Michaé who will join us on guirx.
féi hernandez, a powerhouse poet, community advocate, and one of my muses, also appears in the video and sings a Juan Gabriel duet with Ketzali Weyapan on the last track of the album. Their voice gives me shivers every time. That track came out to be one of the most moving songs I’ve ever created thanks to their and Ketzali’s magic.
There’s not enough space to give everyone their due praises, but I’d still like to shout out the rest of the Cochinxs who appeared in the video: rashida, Grey, Effemy Xitllali, Los Díaz, San Cha, prisk, I love you all! And additional gratitude to my old friend José de Jesús Montemayor Martinez Jr. IV who, despite being the gayest boy ever, played the toxic straight macho man and let me stomp his head with my hoof.
Behind the camera, Director of Photography Xelestiál Moreno Luz and her trans/nonbinary production team—Kata de la Rosa and Devan Rose—gave their all to capture the magic on set. I was so thankful that Xelestiál, who is also a beloved friend, organizer and youth advocate, agreed to work on the project. Not only does she have an amazing eye and contagious energy, she was also the original inspiration for Carla Cabrona. She was the first to show me the raw power of transfemme strength!
The album artwork was illustrated by Jovan, an infinitely magical transfemme bruja in México who is also a DJ, organizer, and fashionista. I was connected to her through Xelestiál, who had received funding to create a documentary on trans life and resistance in México and Colombia. I treasure the virtual work I’ve been able to do with Jovan; it speaks to the power of transfemme connection that she was able to so quickly and easily grasp my vision and translate it into these iconic artworks.
The community you see in the video and hear on the album has collaborated on countless projects, from music videos, zines, and trans-centered gallery shows to organizing fundraisers, workshops, and leading street takeover protests. After the “Carla Cabrona” shoot, Xelestiál dubbed the work we do as TransCultural Productions and the name stuck. We’re out here together creating trans magic in all of its forms: building safe, healing, and affirming spaces; uplifting each other; and documenting our existence for future generations of trans folks to be inspired and continue the work.
What’s next for Matías and when/where should we tune in to it?
The “Carla Cabrona” song and video came out today, but it wouldn’t be a full release without a party! This Friday, April 23rd at 8 PM PST we’ll be hosting a virtual show on Zoom with performances by San Cha, Tyler Holmes, Mayalopolis, and yours truly, plus DJ sets by Linda Nuves and GFUNKTRECE. Once the clock strikes 8 PM PST on Friday, you can join the party by following this link.
The party is also a mutual aid event: we’ll be asking for donations, and all funds received will be redistributed to Black Trans Femmes struggling with housing in our community. If you can’t come, please still donate and support the girls: Venmo or Paypal @mxmatias.
See you Cochinxs there. Stay tuned to @mx.matias on IG for further releases, and every month for the next installment in the saga of Carla Cabrona y Las Cochinas!