Brooklyn-based Xenia Rubinos' incredible second album Black Terry Cat dropped earlier this month. It's a record that very much rallies against stereotypes, being pigeonholed or miscatergorized, and tackles the racial issues she has faced, partly because of her Puerto Rican and Cuban origin. Today she delves into all of that for our latest Reference Points.
Look, in my opinion I feel the best way to go about being the “other” in the room, is to just be and “do you”. No one comes out of the womb feeling they are the minority or a stereotype or this that or the “other”. It is others who do the “othering”. No one is an outcast, no one is a weirdo, a mountain is a mountain.
Our fears and minds do all the naming, grouping and casting out - it’s just what we do to organize this experience and try to make some sense out of the everyday nonsense of being here. But guess what? Our survival depends on us helping one another. The best way I can think of disproving stereotypes or prejudices is by trying really hard every day to be my best self, to contribute something, to listen. The protest is in my being and doing every day. I’m not what you make of me, I’m what I make of me.
Alot of these folks online who write about music, they throw around genres they don’t have the knowledge or context for. It’s vague and many times misinformed. I believe we can do better - to study, listen, ask and find out more. We can evolve to find better words to describe the intricate nuanced music we’re all making and listening to today. Our cultural palette is wide, it’s an exciting time to be globally in touch with media from all corners of the earth at any given time.
How can we see each other, learn about and celebrate our differences rather than experience them as a source of fear or isolation? If we often fear what we don’t know then maybe education is our best bet. I don’t know the answers, and not even all the questions, I’m just trying to figure it all out my damn self.
But you know what we could really use right now? Some compassion for each other as human beings. We are all living on this planet together, all part of the same human race, we share alot of the same hopes, dreams and fears and yet we constantly find ways to tear each other down in order to pull ourselves up.
If music is the reflection of our culture maybe we could stand to be more open and fluid with the boundaries we create to separate styles, genres, sounds. We could stand to expand our tastes, try new things. I’m not suggesting we all should like the same music, my grandma always said “Pa’ los gustos se hicieron los colores!” (For the tastes, the colours were made). Maybe there’s a way to unify and bring people together across disparate social, economic and ethnic communities to enjoy a cultural experience that reflects and celebrates our many distinct ways of being.
Perhaps the way is through creating and consuming art which invites us to be transcendental.
Xenia plays Birthdays in London on 24 October. Tickets here.
Black Terry Cat is out now via Anti- Records. Buy it here.