Oakland’s own edge-walking, queer cabaret-rock band Copyslut shared their new music video for their single “Makers Mark” with us today. Lyrically, the song retells, or perhaps reinterprets, the Latinx myth of La Llorona, while the video darts around a dark space illuminated only by glowing red light. The Edgewalkers, credited by name in the video, provide a fiercely feminine backdrop of fire spinners, pole dancers, and burlesque dancers, contextualizing and deepening the retelling of a deeply maternal myth.
The character La Llorona, a weeping mother searching for her children, is finally given proper space to grieve and a chance to tell her side of the story amongst the punky bass riffs, nostalgically-distorted guitar and, of course, lead singer Chatz’s vocals which alternate between yelps and powerful swells.
My first exposure to La Llorona was a haltingly-read and heavily-censored rendition performed by my 9th grade Spanish class— perhaps the second least powerful way to take in one of the most well-known myths in Latinx culture. Somehow, however, this introduction was still preferable to the one much of white America had earlier this year. The 2019 horror movie The Curse of La Llorona was criticized for its casting of white leads in a Latinx story and its use of curanderos, or traditional Latinx healers, as a means to market the film. I tell these stories not to draw any substantive comparisons between either a Hollywood cash grab or a 9th grade Spanish class and Copyslut’s “Makers Mark,” but rather to highlight the authenticity in the retelling that guitarist Ray Zamora and company are sharing with us.
Both Zamora and Reiko Rasch, Copyslut’s visual artist, are of Mexican descent, and grew up with the story of La Llorona. This longstanding connection with the source material informs and highlights their decision to use a siege of vampires as a stand-in for the emotional drain the original La Llorona experienced at the hands of her husband. The use of an often-cartoonish fairytale casts a familiarly theatrical tone over the song and the video, while simultaneously serving to explore the listener’s internal biases. After replacing a man with terrifying, blood-sucking beasts, I can’t help but sympathize with a mother making the decision to save her children from death at the hands of a monster.
Speaking on the decision to reimagine La Llorona as fierce mother and survivor, Zamora, who wears sugar-skull makeup throughout the video, explains: “Mixed race babies have a lot of that edgewalking superpower. I have access to a wide lived-experience. As a mixed race person, my authenticity is constantly questioned. I often struggle to feel fully seen or connected with my identities because I don’t fit neatly in a box. My connection to ritual and ancestors often comes from within and has become an important part of my work. That’s why we made La Llorona a strong maternal guide, searching for lost children who don’t fully belong. She takes me under her wing and helps me find power on the edges.”
For a group like Copyslut, travelling on the edges is anything but precarious. The band straddles the line between art and activism and does the splits on the gender spectrum with the same poise and confidence we’ve learned to expect after watching their performances. This same confidence infects listeners, and inspires them to stomp around the stage with the same pride as Chatz, heels be damned.
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Copyslut, Blacker Face, Louda Wizard Apprentice
Bottom of the Hill
November 12, 2019
8/8:30pm, $10 (21+)