Puerto Rican photographer Steph Segarra – you may have seen her work for Remezcla, or in various fashion publications, or maybe you follow her on Instagram – unveils her directorial debut today with a video for hometown electronic pop heroes Los Wálters. Pulled from the 2016 LP Isla Disco, “Mayagüez” is a road-trip themed track, and the clip follows suit: A group of four (including band member Aleida López) leave El Local, a San Juan hub for indie music and art, and head out, sleepless but still reeling from the late-night hangout, to the west coast of the island.
Along with a solid crew of media-makers, Segarra brought her signature color-matching photo style to life, centering on the bright blue, yellow, and red palette of the Palacio de los Deportes, a sports stadium built in the 80s where the national basketball team plays. From there we get a kitschier slice of small-town Puerto Rico life, like lotería booths, an iconic roadside lechonera, and a traditional pueblo carnaval. The group scouted locations in advance – but some of the imagery came by total coincidence. They didn’t know there’d be a carnaval in Mayagüez, for one.
“We’re like, ‘We have to go there, they had the girls from the university, the cheerleaders,’ Segarra says. “But we didn’t know there would be these beauty queens, these tiny beauty queens. I thought it was peculiar that these things still exist in small towns here. Maybe you don’t see that in San Juan much but in los pueblos, they’re very traditional.”
Other special spots include the salt flats of Cabo Rojo and the park with the dinosaurs in Hatillo, and the historic El Teatro Yagüez. Some of these spots aren’t the same now, though: In another act of happenstance, the video was filmed just before Hurricanes Irma and María struck the island last September, and the timing was a result of Los Wálters performing in Mayagüez that same weekend.
Los Wálters co-founder Luis López notes, “It gives it a sense of nostalgia; everything was beautiful, and it’s recuperating now, but it doesn’t exist [today] in the same way.”
Beyond the environmental impact, the park with the dinosaurs has since been razed to build a parking lot, and the blue and yellow wall of the Toys ‘R’ Us has been painted gray ahead of the store’s permanent closure. But it’s all preserved here, in “Mayagüez,” just like the sweet memory of an impromptu road trip with friends that Segarra has perfectly conveyed.
Watch our premiere of the “Mayagüez” video above.