“The message is euphoria,
love and diversity.”
A snowy night in 2005 marked the evolution of this writer’s musical parameters. There were to be no such limitations anymore and anything was possible through sound. The moment occurred before the start of that night’s concert at Congress Theater. Las Ultrasonicas, one of Mexico’s City’s first and only all-female fronted bands, were part of the night’s showcase and it was their first visit to Chicago. It was also my first encounter with the ladies, artists I had so carefully listened to for hours on end and who made me feel things I never knew I might feel. They were sassy and strong. They were crass and empowering. They could thrash on stage like every other rock band except they might be in heels or a skirt. They were uninhibited, proud and in love with music. I was highly influenced by their strength, especially that of Ali Gua Gua.
Ali Gua Gua had first appeared in my life through music and then through her lens. Ali’s music career actually began with the band Las Monas, which was lead by an Australian Ramones fanatic. Las Monas was a project that couldn’t get off the ground because they were missing a drummer. Fortunately, through local band events, Ali found herself meeting the founders of Las Ultrasonicas, who had a similar story when it came to finding all their musicians. Soon Ali was officially part of the band, playing lead guitar and adding vocals.
Las Ultrasonicas began to blow up shortly after their song “Monstruo Verde” was featured in the highly acclaimed film, Perfume de Violetas. They also received heavy rotation for other hits off their album, “Yo Fui Una Adolescente Terrosatánica” (2000, Electro Harmonix) including the highly controversial song “Vente en mi Boca,” along with punk rock theme “Ramona,” and “El Espacio Exterior.”
In 2002 they followed up with another successful recording, “Oh si, mas mas” (Terminal, 2002) which included the surf hit, “Vaquera Galactica” featured on the compilation album, Mexican Madness (Isotonic Records/Grabaxiones Alicia, 2002) as well as rock girl’s new anthem “Que Grosero.” In 2004 they release “Las Ultrasonicas en Directo” a live concert recording and follow that up in 2007 with their last full-length recording, “Corazon Rocker.” They continued to tour and in 2011 they celebrated their 15 years together. The band is currently not performing.
Ali studied cinematography at the Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica in Mexico City and had put together a short documentary on her time with Las Ultrasonicas. As soon as we got our hands on it, we began to share it with everyone we knew. It made us very proud to know that there were women out there doing what they wanted to do in all areas of life. Through their music and this film we accepted there were no boundaries, no impossibilities. At the same time it showed how easily the industry could swallow you up and spit you out, especially surrounded by machista culture. Las Ultrasonicas were the first all-female rock band in Mexico City in the 90s that created history and new opportunities for women as their music reached new demographics.
The short film, “Todos Estan Muriendo Aqui,” was a DIY look at DIY before we knew there was such a thing. It’s dark but hopeful, disillusioning but inspiring and an amalgam of musical possibilities, especially now as we see the path of success that Ali Gua Gua has embarked upon since her days of punk rock. She used her talent to create more music, the stuff we love to dance to as well as mixes and remixes of vintage and modern tunes. She also briefly performed with Afrodita. She uses her endearing personality to attract fans across the planet as she tours solo as well as with her Argentine band, Las Kumbia Queers.
In Las Kumbia Queers, an all female queercore cumbia/punk band formed by members mostly from Argentina, Ali was able to successfully take the role of lead singer. Always steady with the güiro in hand, LKQ have been able to establish themselves as one of the world’s premiere live cumbia-fusion bands (have you heard their awesome cover of “These Boots are made for Walking”? Woah!).
Las Kumbia Queers have recorded three albums – Kumbia Nena, La Gran Estafa del Tropipunk and Pecados Tropicales. One of their singles from Kumbia Nena was featured in the movie soundtrack for Rudo y Cursi. They have toured extensively across Europe, South America and the US and (!!!) we just confirmed that they are set to perform in Austin, TX during the SXSW Music Festival 2014 as part of the Sol Collective showcase.
As music styles began to mesh, Ali was able to stay relevant with her one-woman shows, both MC, singer-writer, beat maker and producer. Known as DJ Guaguis, she blends and mixes genres up for ultimate dance floor sensations. You’ll hear everything from nu-cumbia to house, punk rock to dutch house, and reggae to disco. Variety is the spice of life, and such as the case with Ali’s music.
Ali Gua Gua has successfully established a following devoted to her every move. She just released her very own full-length album, “Forever Alone” which was produced by another fellow musical genius, Silverio. Ali uses her music to share her love of humanity, her love of music and her love of love. Her efforts have helped create new opportunities for women in music and for that alone we salute, admire and yes, adore her.
Thank you, Ali Gua Gua, for wearing your jarocho heart on your punk rock sleeve.