How Femininity Empowered La Bruja de Texcoco

How Femininity Empowered La Bruja de Texcoco

Story by Irene Trejo / Photography by Tony Farfalla / Art direction by Orly Anan

There are different ways of exploring Mexican culture. Better said, there are different, forever transmuting beings that have been a part of it desde siempre (since forever). La Bruja de Texcoco is one such being.

In a relatively short period of time, she has become a necessary character within Mexico's music scene. La Bruja represents so many things: Freedom, diversity, the mystical, our roots. Her music, which comes from Mexican communities, explores everything from traditional huapango dance to the violin and ceremonial rituals. Through this, she has been able to cast a spell and share her speech about acceptance and love.

PAPER had the opportunity to talk to La Bruja de Texcoco about breaking norms through her music and embracing the power of femininity, below.

How would you describe La Bruja de Texcoco? How does she express herself and what inspires her?

La Bruja de Texcoco is an entity in transition of identity — an entity in transition to femininity. She expresses herself in [the] feminine. She likes Mexican traditions because they are part of what she is, and she is inspired by the femininities and transfeminities of the culture. The Muxes of Juchitan de Zaragoza, the Maringuias of Michoacán, the Chuntaes from Chiapas de Corzo. All these communities from north to south that create music are part of La Bruja.

Would you say that she's a balance between duality, in a way?

Perhaps. I mean, I still cannot define her entirely as a femininity. On the other hand, I prefer to define myself through my experiences, by collecting moments from different spaces. I also rely more with everything that transmutes and is multi-faceted: The nonbinary, the queer, the trans. I'd say I'm a frontier person who is always standing in the line.

Could you tell me about the day La Bruja found you?

It happened during a ceremony in Texcoco with some friends who practice La Danza Mexica. I was playing some sones and huapangos with a group. I came near the curandero (the healer). He took my hands and said, "I was waiting for you, you are one of my witches. You are a woman, look at your hands, they belong to a woman. You are one and you came here for something." I think this was the first time that my femininity was referred to without insult or mockery. It was a very kind moment, full of respect and magic. La Bruja arrived during these days of Muertos in November. From that moment, the process of searching for myself through my femininity started. It is something so powerful. Femininity empowers you.

Since then, what has been your relationship with magic and shamanism?

I practice many magic rituals on stage, always asking for permission, of course. I like to clean the space I'm going to perform at with copal, saying some allusive phrases, sometimes also offering mezcal. What I wear also has a meaning and a reason, the flowers and how I use them. I do all of these with great respect for my culture. And despite the fact that I am not part of certain indigenous communities, I live and embody them with all the kindness and affection that I have for them.

"The system makes us believe that there's only men and women in this world. However, there is an infinite range."

What sounds make up your music and what do you intend to seed in the people that listen to it?

One of my inspirations are the sounds that accompany these femininities and transfeminities I talk about. The music that I play and compose are my own experiences from this transition. The huapangos and sones from different parts of the country, such as the Mariachis from the West, sones jarochos, banda music. All of these sounds are the ones I like to express through my work. I started creating my own music when I became La Bruja. Before, I was only an interpreter. But femininity has empowered me in such a way that now I get to tell my own story. And knowing that certain people can identify with it is indescribable, people who feel as I do. Dissidents who are violated by a heteronormative and binary society. We broke these norms and my music expresses that.

What instruments do you identify with the most?

My main instrument is the violin. Although I also play the cello, the viola, string instruments such as jaranas and quintas huapangueras, wind instruments such as the clarinet and many more. There's a moment for each one of them. Also my voice, I am an instrument. My voice is a trans, unconventional, queer voice.

You were born in Texcoco, however the muxe is very present in your being. What is your connection with this community?

Actually, I was born in CDMX. La Bruja was born in Texcoco, except she belongs everywhere. However, the muxes from Oaxaca were my first approach to femininity and I feel I have a strong community and connection there. Nowadays I like to travel looking for these dissidents within all communities, since they are people with a lot to say and who are usually silenced.

How do you find balance, the divine in it, within you?

The system makes us believe that there's only men and women in this world. However, there is an infinite range: The androgynous, the different, the trans, the transfeminine and transmasculine. And this is what enriches the spaces of representation of the divine. Here in Mexico we have the chachalacas, the peteneras, these dual femininities that are different from the normative and that are super powerful. All these witches are part of the Mexican culture and connect us with magic. It is something that is still very much alive.

We know how urgent it is to get rid of labels and separatisms. Do you participate in any type of queer activist movement in Mexico? Perhaps you also consider that activism happens through your work?

Of course. The no labels topic has helped me to feel more free, plus I like to be part of different movements and causes. I know many activist groups, I have many girlfriends inside the trans community who participate as activists from their trenches. I move around, showing myself and that is my way of being an activist: showing my corporeality in spaces like festivals, where the presence of transfemininities is still uncommon. Music is my activism.

"Music is my activism."

How has this experience been and what do you think is still missing?

I believe that more visibility is needed. We need to normalize these experiences, so that more people like me go out onto the streets showing themselves as they are.

What would you share about the importance of keeping the culture and ancestral tradition alive?

I believe that Mexico is always in search of the origin and to identify with something. Above all, I am talking about CDMX, one of the largest cities in the world, which is why it has also become somewhat individualistic. Still, most of us have a feeling of being part of a culture from other regions. My grandmother was from Michoacán and my grandfather from Hidalgo. This longing to go back to the roots is inherited. Being able to connect with this from the experiences of our grandparents is something that happens to many of us. I think it's beautiful.

How is your relationship with your family and community?

My relationship with my family is lovely, they support me a lot. Especially my mother who designs and sews most of my costumes. She says to me, "Look, I bought this fabric and I'd like to make you a dress or a huipil." There is a very special bond in terms of the creative process with my mother and I love that it exists as part of our relationship.

What is beauty for you and how do you access it?

Acting as a male person limited me a lot, but since La Bruja arrived I had a reconciliation with my body and with certain parts of me that I used to hide. They came out to shine. I think that beauty lies in feeling confident with what you do, with what you wear and how you feel.

Stream "Chéni (Miedo)" by La Bruja de Texcoco, below.

Photography: Tony Farfalla
Art direction: Orly Anan
Makeup: Mario Navarez
Art assistants: Mariana Roor, Kometa Pérez