Like so many others, the election of a white nationalist has forced me reexamine my confidence in the capacity of art and music to incite action. After Trump was elected, I found solace in the politically inclined music that had soothed my own fears and anxieties about the targeting of Latinx communities over the past few years.

As writers, artists, and others in the creative community processed the consequences of a Trump presidency, many expressed faith in the healing powers of music and art. In a piece for The Nation, Toni Morrison eschews self-pity and fear with a forceful reminder that “this is precisely the time when artists go to work.” On Twitter, comedian Patton Oswalt and writer Juan Vidal suggested the next four years will be a fruitful time for music. But critic Jessica Hopper argues that seeing music as a silver-lining of this election is a dangerous myth. In her view, artists of color who make music about their politics or identities will be targeted even further under Trump, so fans should not expect them to continue politicizing their work. Noisey editor Kim Kelly echoes that sentiment and denounces the all-too-comfortable armchair activism of many white liberal music fans, asking them to take immediate action and fight for marginalized communities.

But one thing seems to be missing from this conversation: the voices of artists who would actually be targeted under Trump. Many of the Latinx performers Remezcla covers use their music as a tool of resistance; they challenged stereotypes and explored new articulations of Latinidad long before Trump entered the national conversation as a viable presidential candidate – and would have continued to do so under Clinton. Now more than ever, it seems pertinent to ask artists who have explored politics in their work about how they see music evolving under the Trump administration. Read their thoughts below. –Isabelia Herrera, Music Editor

1

Victoria Ruiz of Downtown Boys

Do you think music will become more political during the Trump administration?
I think that there is music that is always operating towards an infinity of talking about politics. Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly is one of the most political albums I have ever been affected by. I think that it will now be made even that much more relevant under a white supremacist’s administration. In the song “Why? (The King of Love is Dead),” Nina Simone is talking about the murder of MLK, but the lyrics are constantly made more relevant every time the police kill a person of color and anyone, really. There will hopefully be more people making political music, but I think a lot of musicians have been making political music about liberation such that songs inspired by a white supremacist administration will still not be as great as music that confronts freedom.

What role do you think musicians should play in turbulent political times like this?
I think that musicians should play the same role that everyone else should play, which is using whatever platform you have to try and connect our reality to our visions and dreams. I think touring musicians will need to think about all the places we are going and make sure our bandmates and people that come/want to come are safe. I think being musicians of color, especially being black, Muslim, trans, or an undocumented musician, means being more of a threat to white comfort and fragility, so we will all have more battles to fight. Music is not organizing nor is it a benign service; it’s something in between. Whether musicians like it or not, it mobilizes, so musicians have to think about how it is mobilizing.

How do you see your own music evolving during the Trump administration?
We are close to finishing a new album. All the songs are relevant to confronting the injustice that the white supremacist president-elect represents, but to be honest, they would also be relevant to confronting the injustice Hillary would have represented as president. I think that’s because the music is not meant for the dictator, the boss, the creator of neoliberalism, the deporter-in-chief – the music is meant for everyone else. I think our music will continue to play an offensive game with culture rather than a defensive one. We don’t have to defend white culture and we don’t have to defend fear about being brown; we have to take space, we have to connect, and we have to change the game, not get held down by the players.

Subcomandante Marcos has a quote that I think will drive our new music in a new way, though the music and the way will always be connected to our history as well: “The world we want to transform has already been worked on by history and is largely hollow. We must nevertheless be inventive enough to change it and build a new world. Take care and do not forget ideas are also weapons.”

2

Helado Negro

Do you think music will become more political during the Trump administration?
I think music has always had varying degrees of political ideas. There have been so many people fighting and raising their voices by using their platform to elevate other people. I hope people begin to seek those people out who have been doing this for some time for guidance and wisdom.

What role do you think musicians should play in turbulent political times like this?
Musicians should keep making music. Music helps in different ways; it’s less effective when it’s trend-based and most powerful when it’s sincere.

How do you see your own music evolving during the Trump administration?
I’m still processing this all – I don’t have a good answer.

3

Xenia Rubinos

Do you think music will become more political during the Trump administration?
I don’t think that all music should or will bear politicized messaging in this new era, but I do expect and hope for a shift in perspective and a heightened awareness of the messages and images we are propagating and how those add to and influence our culture.

What role do you think musicians should play in turbulent political times like this?
I think we can empower and comfort. Live shows can be a transformative experience; we can create positive energy together and encourage a space where a diverse audience comes together to transfer energy, dance, and commune. It’s incredibly important especially in times like these to go see art and live shows. I absolutely believe that music heals.

How do you see your own music evolving during the Trump administration?
I feel a heightened sense of responsibility as an American-born daughter of immigrants to work to understand our current situation and history and to make things better, to be smarter and better informed, to be compassionate and take real action to create change and help others. I feel really urgent about making transcendental, soulful, and meaningful music now more than ever. I feel that I must use everything I have and everything I know to be better and to make love, to bring people together and empower myself and others.

4

Reuben Torres of Los Macuanos

Do you think music will become more political during the Trump administration?
I don’t believe so, no. I actually think that music during politically turbulent times tends to move in the opposite direction. It becomes more apolitical. It’s said that Strauss’ iconic “Blue Danube” waltz was written just weeks after the Habsburg empire suffered a crushing military defeat at the hands of the Prussians, which permanently crippled its hegemonic status. It seems that the more grim everyday reality becomes, the more people look to cheerful, escapist music to take them out of it.

Similarly, when the 2012 elections happened in Mexico, the spirit of discontent which had been brewing among youth just sort of fizzled. Even in the wake of tragedies like Ayotzinapa, or increasing femicides, there weren’t any artists or musicians who successfully captured the public outrage. The anger and frustration just sort of turned into fear and resignation.

What role do you think musicians should play in turbulent political times like this?

Music is a fantastic way to influence attitudes, but I don’t think one could rightly consider it activism. At best, music can tangibly capture a collective mood, but it can’t serve as a blunt instrument of social and political change, I don’t think. I think the responsibility during such urgent times lies on everyone — not just musicians and artists — to assume a more active role in the political sphere.

How do you see your own music evolving during the Trump administration?
Pretty much every thing I’ve ever composed has some political dimension to it. With Los Macuanos and Espectro | Caudillo it is more overt, but even Conejito Colvin, which is more pop, has a built-in critique of our politically absent-minded generation. So, in that sense, I don’t think my approach will change drastically. Instead, I do feel a greater sense of urgency with regards to releasing material.

I began recording an EP with Conejito Colvin a few months ago titled Baladas apocalípticas para amantes perdidos (Apocalyptic Ballads for Lost Lovers)inspired by the apocalyptic climate of the elections. I ultimately set it aside since I didn’t feel it was very relevant. I’m definitely starting to reconsider if I should release it now.

5

Stella Santana

Do you think music will become more political during the Trump administration?
The cool thing, if you’re paying attention, is that inspiration can come just as easily from positive experiences as it does from negative experiences – actually, sometimes it’s easier to access when things are tough. So, I definitely think there will be more political music in the next four years and I’m excited to hear it.

What role do you think musicians should play in turbulent political times like this?
I don’t really believe in things we “should” do, but rather I believe in pursuing what we feel the most. I don’t doubt that musicians and creatives in general will be inspired to share their perspectives at a time like this. It will make for richer conversation and deeper connection. But I don’t think that will be an experience exclusive to musicians.

How do you see your own music evolving during the Trump administration?
A lot of issues we tried to convince ourselves we were past as a society are showing up. That gives us a chance to revisit them. They’re obviously unresolved so need to be revisited anyway. I’m certain I will be inspired to write about what will come up for us not only as Americans but as citizens of the world, which is how I hope we will all start to see each other. For me, I often get into trouble because I’ve received the feedback that I tend to “over simplify” things but I think that is my gift – everything is only as complicated as we make it. And we can overcome and persevere it all. My music will definitely be inspired by that concept.

A paradox is when two seemingly opposite concepts or ideas can exist in the same space and I have always really valued a paradoxical perspective. Since the election, I’ve become even more aware than I already was (I didn’t even think that was possible!) that racism and sexism are still extremely prevalent in modern society. At the same time, I still also strongly believe that the only thing that can stop me from achieving what I want is myself. So, I know that I will continue to face devastating disappointments in the form of racism and sexism, but I also know that it is my choice whether or not those experiences stop me. It’s not ideal, but I thrive in adversity and I believe that anyone can do the same. Keep it moving; eyes on the prize.