We all know that the U.S. employment wage gap between white men and, well, everyone else remains a problem. And for the Latinx population, on average, we’re making about 23 percent less than our white, non-Latinx counterparts. Pay for undocumented workers, of course, can be considerably less, and in the unregulated grey economy, those jobs are often in violation of labor protections regarding breaks, length of shifts, and conditions.
Chicana punks Fea call out this discrepancy on “Ya Se,” the second single from the band’s forthcoming album No Novelties. The video – premiering today exclusively on Remezcla – is a pro-worker wallop to a capitalist system that condemns low-income people for their poverty, rather than acknowledging its role in keeping them poor.
“Ya Se” follows a damn-the-man narrative: Letty, Jenn, Phanie, and new guitarist Sofi, work diligently as auto mechanics, yet aren’t paid enough to fund a decent quality of life. Meanwhile, their boss is making money while literally sitting around, picking his nose.
“Letty wrote the song about living paycheck to paycheck,” Jenn says. “You know, not making enough, but still spending money you don’t have on vices that maybe help distract you from your reality.”
Off the clock, Fea sneak back into the shop, bringing along booze and an itch to blow off some steam, ending in a symbolic smashing of the timeclock.
So often, low-income people are judged for spending on anything but the bare necessities. But why should the underpaid and overworked by denied a temporary “manera de escapar,” as Jenn belts about shopping on “Ya Se,” being stuck in an oppressive system? Money spent on coping is nobody’s business. Critics should instead be more concerned about how so many of those low-income workers are POC, and why their often physical and skilled labor is deemed less valuable.
Like Fea’s 2016 self-titled debut, “Ya Se” blends biting social commentary into melodic-yet-gritty punk. But there’s a fresh element fortifying the delivery of the band’s message: Sofi, a new guitarist who joined ahead of the No Novelties songwriting.
“Even though those were great guitarists that we had before, there’s some stuff that they could just not understand, maybe because they’d never gone through those kinds of things,” Letty says. “To have [Sofi] actually relating to a lot of the lyrics brings us a lot closer, and it makes writing, I feel, easier. It feels a little bit more natural now that Sofi is in the band with us.”
No Novelties, produced by LA punk icon Alice Bag – Fea worked previously with her on the band’s debut, with co-producers Laura Jane Grace of Against Me! and Lori Barbero of Babes in Toyland – feels especially promising now. “We’re just kind of, like, badass,” Jenn says of Fea’s lineup. “We’re all together, we’re ready. We’ve got this new album to show. It’s exciting.”
Considering the album includes a cover of Gloria Trevi’s “Pelo Suelto” and a ye-ye inspired track, with softer verses sung in French and angrier ones in Spanish, we’re sure it’s gonna be an exciting one, with a revitalized fuck-the-system charge.