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CARLA ROSSI, PORTLAND’S PREMIER WHITE PERSON, SITS DOWN WITH BOMB ASS PUSSY.

By Carla Rossi, for PQ Monthly

How did this humble drag clown find herself interviewing PDX’s stars of underground activist hip-hop? Perhaps it was karmic debt or an actual debt like the one that keeps me changing my address and voter registration every 72 days. Regardless, I, Carla Rossi, have been a friend and fan of this Latinx trio for years so it just felt right when I stumbled out of my trash can and into their studio. My memory may end there, and afterward, I might have come to in a bathtub full of ice cubes surrounded by a symphony of barking dogs and screaming babies, but luckily our interview was painstakingly recorded via my faithful Etch-A-Sketch for your reading enjoyment.

Carla: First, just to clear up some confusion – which one of you is Bomb, which one’s Ass, and who’s Pussy?

Jeau: For all intents and purposes, Jeau is da bomb, Chris got that ass and Kitty reppin’ pussy.

Chris: He can tell I ain’t missin’ no meals!

Kitty: And I like cats!

Chris: It started off as a joke, and the name is a bit of a hoodwink. It’s slightly jarring and sexual like most of the hip-hop but once people listen to the music, it’s incredibly message driven and intelligent. We definitely like to tell a story with our art. Exorcise our demons.

bapCarla: Why are you brown people so angry?

Chris: The fuck did you just say to me?

Jeau: I mean, can you blame us? Yeah, we’re angry. It’s hard not to be. More so than anger, I hope our passion shines through in our music. It’s imperative for the three of us to speak on topics that affect (but are not limited to) our community, but it’s not always going to be cute.

Chris: And sometimes we just speak very loudly. I think it’s something in our blood historically where sometimes you have to be loud to be heard. Plus Kitty is the loudest, so that makes her three times stronger than anyone in the room. But in all honesty, shit in our daily lives dealing with being marginalized and looked down upon makes me furious. Having someone call you “dirty” and basically, less than can be brutal. Not to mention the actual very real everyday violence that comes with being a person of color. The fear makes me mad. The common fear.

Kitty: Um excuse me Mija! Why is it that I got to be angry all the time? Maybe sometimes it’s not the brown person being angry about something, maybe sometimes someone’s calm because they do not understand. They have not encountered similar experiences in the same fashion, nor do they have the same access to resources, because if they did have to understand, the issue wouldn’t be brown people being angry. And maybe sometimes I’m mad, you tried being a woman and treated as if have nothing to say and way too much of it to say, you’d be mad too. Every day women are silenced…

Carla: Thank you, Kitty! [She whispers to Chris and Jeau] Boy can she go on. Am I right, fellas?
[Awkward silence.]

Carla: Anyway, so the new LP, or is it EP, or DP—

Jeau: EP, girl.

Carla: The new EP is Pussy Reign, am I saying that correctly?

Jeau: Yes.

Carla: Pussy Reign is your first release in how long?

Kitty: PR is our first EP release in about 2 years. We tried not to stay away so long, but a lot was going on. Personally, I had gone back to school, so I didn’t have as much time as I did before. I soon realized some of the topics I was learning about in class were motivating the music I was making as far as the themes in the songs and lyrics that were written. Pussy Reign differs from the first EP (self-titled “BAP”) in that it brings a little more experience and knowledge. You can definitely see maturity in our presentation of who we have become as a group.

Chris: We did release two singles for SHORT DICK MAN (produced by Pete Ellison) and MAGNETIC LINES featuring our good friend Kelly Moe before the EP. One is lighthearted, and throwback and the other is about the realization that the relationship you’re in is not where you should be exactly.

Jeau: We actually were not intending to go that long between the EP releases, but a string of unfortunate events kept it out of our control. Something kept screwing up or getting lost.

Carla: Who? Me? Listen, I was told the laborers in my factory were there voluntarily—

Chris: No, but close. Our computer crashed, and we lost a ton of information, which SUUUUUUCKED. Kitty ended up having to go back and put back together all the tracks she made piece by piece. Then we had to re-record some of the vocals for a few songs, shoot the artwork, and get some videos up and going.

Jeau: For our part, though, regardless of how long that finished product took to be recorded and released, all of the songs were written in their entirety a good year ago.

Kitty: This weird guy Anthony Hudson is supposed to direct the video for the title track, but he won’t answer our calls anymore. It’s ok, I know where he lives.

bap2Carla: One thing I love about your music is it’s super danceable but also political. In Pussy Reign there’s a part where the song comes to a stopping point, and you say a particular phrase – what is it again?

Chris: At the end of my verse in Pussy Reign the music cuts out, and I say “Excuse me officer, please help me, I can’t breathe” referring to the Eric Garner case where he was strangled to death by police. His last moments alive were caught on tape, and the last thing he said was “I can’t breathe” and no matter how many times he said it, they still wouldn’t listen.

Jeau: Thank you for recognizing us for more than just songs about weed and dick!

Chris: Although we do love songs about weed and dick.

Jeau: The whole EP but especially the title track is crucial for us. I almost feel as if the entire project (including B-sides that didn’t make the cut) was centered around the concept of “Pussy Reign.”

Kitty: I start the first verse with “If I ruled the world”, with all these things going on in our world today, especially here in our country, social media is full of events and opinions. This is our way of us talking about those issues, and what if Bomb Ass Pussy ruled the world? What would we do? My verse deals with income inequality and the elitist class system, which perpetuates the poverty cycle, keeping the working class people and down.

Jeau: My verse deals with the general inequality among the sexes and patriarchal society. With all the negativity women face in their professional lives and otherwise, I wanted to speak on that first and foremost.

Kitty: I came up with that using the ol’ “ladies first” rule. Equality.

Carla: I heard the jury is still out on that concept.

Chris: I’m not sure how that’s equality, but I’m not going to argue with Kitty. My verse is more about police brutality and racial inequality. BLACK LIVES MATTER. I grew up around a lot of police violence and having it become more and more pervasive, especially towards people of color is so fucking scary. We wrote these songs almost two years ago, and the deaths by police continue to get higher and higher. VERY VERY VERY RECENTLY we have videos of both Alton Sterling and Philando Castile being MURDERED BY POLICE.

Jeau: It’s so frustrating that even after what happened in Orlando that the Senate continues to completely ignore what the people want for gun control. We need to help share the responsibility to help people get woke.

Carla: I heard you cut a song from your Pride set list. Which song and why? Do I smell censorship or even worse – political correctness?! [Carla plays a thundercrack effect on her phone.]

Jeau: We did decide to cut one of our favorite songs from our Pride sets this year out of sensitivity to the tragedy in Orlando at Pulse. The song “Chola” featured a massive gunshot beat and more than several references to a “chola wit a gun.”

Chris: The Sunday morning we heard the news we were devastated, and we were supposed to have rehearsal for our Pride set the following week. I didn’t want to do it, and that’s really the only thing I could think of at the time. Then while rehearsing, Chola came on, and tons of gunshots are heard, and it just didn’t feel right. The last thing anyone wants to hear at a Pride party a week after Orlando was the sound of gunshots. It just made me feel so sick. One of the largest mass shootings in recent history and we still can’t pass a bill for responsible gun control? Background checks?

Jeau: Who the fuck needs a semi-automatic rifle? They are made to KILL PEOPLE! Not hunt. Not relieve stress. Nothing more and nothing less.

Kitty: We did not want to be insensitive in any way because we were too busy mourning for our LGBTQ siblings. We too had feared for possibilities that it could happen here. I did want there to be a correlation with us and promoting violence. Yes, the song could be interpreted in such a way, so we left it out this time. Chola is a song that started out with my mom, my background, childhood neighborhoods, and memories of back in the day. I grew up in lower-income neighbors throughout Los Angeles, my family – Chicano and proud – was part of the gangs and it was around us. I begin to write the song because I missed my heritage and I’m not ashamed of who I am and where I come from. I see that the system is set up to help this lifestyle of people of color killing each other, with drugs and guns. The song comes from the viewpoint of Chola (a character created in my mother’s image and experience) making it through life as a poor Latin woman and how it passed down to me. In a world where women like that are pinned in a corner, her gun symbolizes her strength, and when she loads it with things like knowledge and honor, she’s ready to fire back. Now this Chola about to get my degree from the University, education and information are the best ammo I have.

Chris: We talk a lot about access and how metaphorically we are “loaded guns” because our primary instinct is not only to survive but to thrive and be successful. To care for our families. But White Supremacy is constantly trying to keep the trigger from us. Not only do they control media outlets and make very specific choices in their language when they speak about people of color but they always demonize and disenfranchise us. Especially Black folk. Especially Black women. And even more Black Trans Women. They are the most vulnerable. We need to make sure we address this. We need to make it stop. People are dying. Every. Single. Day. At the hands of people who are supposed to protect us. Although I don’t think they were ever actually supposed to protect us (people of color). It’s a guise. I say disarm the police.

Carla: I say eat them! So what does making work together to look like? Who does what?

Chris: It looks like a bunch of people yelling at each other for a few weeks and then something finally comes of it… a demon shadow baby. It’s a very visceral experience.
Kitty: Our meeting usually consists of discussing, planning, debating, and eating. It’s easier to discuss issues with me if eating occurs first, but so are talking and planning things with me. Rule #1: Feed the Kitty.

Jeau: We’re honestly lucky enough to be creating this work with our best friends. We legit love each other, and there is all the respect in the world between the three of us. There’s always something to be done so we do tend to keep ourselves busy with any number of the projects we currently have in the works.

Chris: It can change every time with every song or video. Sometimes we’ll have an idea or something we really want to talk about, and then Kitty might make a beat specifically for it. Or she’ll send us a couple of tracks, and we’ll write to it and see where it goes. When it comes to the visual aspect of things we usually have a very clear idea of what we want. Sometimes when I’m writing, I get somewhat of a picture of what’s going on there.

Jeau: Everyone has their own unique strengths. While I handle most of the social media correspondence and the booking of shows, Kitty’s lean more towards the production of our music. Chris handles visuals, marketing, and the website. We all write about 90 percent of our own lyrics and some for each other here and there.

Kitty: We all play to our strengths and abilities, which we are learning more how to step out of those comfort zones. I’ve had lots of influence in the way we sound, but it’s always done with influence from what we had discussed earlier. Like Jeau heard a beat I had made and put it to a chorus Chris had written and – bam! – We brought Daddy Issues the song together. It’s like we finish each others’ s—

Jeau: Sentences!

Kitty: I was going to say sandwiches, but OK.

Carla: The people demand to know! What’s next?

Chris: We’re definitely learning to move better together onstage. When they’re three people up there it can get a little difficult to navigate and make sure – AHEM – Kitty doesn’t kick you in the head doing the splits while in a headstand, Chun-Li style.

Jeau: We’re working on a badass mixtape to promote the EP and a new single called STATE OF EMERGENCY (ft. Laverne Cox). It is in no uncertain terms our response to the Trans Lives Matter movement and Orlando. And check out our FB PAGE AND SIGN OUR PETITION to help us open up for PEACHES! Make these bitches’ dreams come true.

Kitty: Our plate looks pretty full with fight injustice, break down damaging social norms, take on gender, combat racism, shut down homophobia, break down walls for Latin recognition, kick down doors for trans-equality, liberate bisexuality, and put an end to the silencing of transwomen of color—

Pussy Reign Cover MasterCarla: Well it looks like that’s all the time we have! I have to go feed the meter. Peace out, Pussy.

You can download Bomb Ass Pussy’s music and watch their videos on their website at www.bombasspussy.net. Find them on Twitter / Instagram / Facebook there as well. You can catch Carla and her human avatar Anthony Hudson in their new one-woman-ish show LOOKING FOR TIGER LILY, premiering September 30th and October 1st at the historic Hollywood Theatre. Find out more at TheCarlaRossi.com.

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