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Compa: Latinx NYHC Band Takes Aim at Bootlickers on Debut Release

Compa is a new ferocious hardcore band out of Brooklyn, New York. Having recently dropped their S/T EP defiantly on July 4th, it’s a half dozen furious bangers that meld everything from cathartic and ramshackle screamo and D-beat rumble to the blinding anger of powerviolence.

Recalling at once Usurp Synapse, Fluoride, and Soul Glo, Compa seems to swear by brutal brevity, relentlessly attacking for the duration. They manage fleeting moments of respite, added nuanced and subtle post-rock bookends. At their core, the band joins the ranks of deeply soulful but properly pissed political hardcore.

In record time, they managed to take lyrical aim at both the insidious Hydra that is White supremacy and the beautiful stories of migration that inform their own respective journeys.

Should you listen, it’s likely you’ll find yourself as obsessed as I’ve quickly become. Throughout July, the band will be donating the entirety of their Bandcamp proceeds to Club A, an NYC-based organization donating groceries and hygiene supplies weekly to locals. 

As equally kind as they are righteous on record, the band members were kind enough to indulge me. Listen to Compa. You’re welcome:

As we all find ourselves in the midst of a collective pause, it’s the perfect time for No Echo readers to meet y’all. How did you come together as friends and then Compa? 

Henry (guitars): In 2017, at MIGRA Punk Fest at the Silent Barn in Bushwick, I'd gone to see a poet friend of mine, Rupert Estanislao, perform with his Filipino hardcore band Aninoko. I'd only seen this many black and brown punks in one place going nuts in my daydreams. It's a beautiful thing to see, a bridge with our Asian kin built out of something other than suffering the same injustices.

This was a bridge built out of joy, D-beats, and feedback. But of course, that rage that's born out of love for a people who are tired of being walked on is foundational. The vibe was predominantly "fuck ICE," with a few white Clintonistas mixed in. That's how it goes, even here. Ironic. This was the night after the year anniversary of environmental activist Berta Caceres assination by Hillary Clinton's goons in Honduras. 

I was inspired to nurture a place where I could be fully present with my rage, and forming a Latinx hardcore band was one way I saw to do that. I started walking up to strangers and asking if they wanted to put something together. That's how I met Sayuri. I think she was skeptical at first though. I don't blame her. But I'll let her speak on that if she wants.

Sayuri (vocals): When I met Henry, I was still living in New Brunswick, New Jersey. I was skeptical because I wanted to make sure we were on the same page politically. Not the exact politics but beliefs that I align with. It goes the same with friendships. We are not going to be cool if you are a bootlicker or if you’re still cool with your friends that support Trump.

After I met Henry at MIGRA Punk Fest we stayed in touch and I told him we would start a band when I moved to Brooklyn. I met Mowry, the drummer, at a mutual friend's birthday and I heard he liked punk. I heard his other projects  and he is a very talented drummer so I had to persuade him until he said yes! We met Tati through mutual friends and I immediately loved her because she was so genuinely psyched to play. I love that about her!

Tati (bass): When Sayuri and I first met, she asked if I was down with the sickness and I said yes. 

Mowri (drums): I met Sayuri through a mutual friend and they had been asking me for a while at parties or whatever social gathering if I was interested in joining their band as the drummer. I was a little reluctant at first—I was already performing with 2-3 different artists, but I decided to check out a rehearsal and I immediately loved the style and energy—I had missed playing fast, loud, and heavy.

Also, this is as fully realized a first release as I’ve heard in a long time... from the songs to the overall aesthetic presentation. How’d you manage to knock it out of the park straight away?!

Henry (guitars): Thanks, Adam! I gotta credit Sayuri for suggesting Roy Hames who, I think, did a fantastic job capturing some of her essence in the artwork. It gave us a foundation from which to build our own kind of mythology too. Tati connected us with Ed Marson from Mockcharge to record the instruments but it was she who recorded the vocals with an SM58 in our practice space where we could take our time.

I think it was more important to get takes that did the lyrics justice than to get takes at a studio with better equipment but with the pressure of an hourly rate. Also, it's nice to have an Audio Engineer in the band! Mowri, the drummer,  mixed and mastered the album to our vision, and the rest, we're still figuring out, to be honest.
 
I clearly hear a great deal of screamo/skramz, but Compa seems to have a political hardcore bent. I also hear bits of powerviolence and d-beat. Is that apt or am I way off, haha? Was there a clear collective influence when forming/writing? What are some bands Compa find inspiring? 

Mowri (drums): To me, it makes the music I’m playing that much more important and powerful when I know what it’s saying. I feel what it is saying. I live what this song is about through my experiences and my history. As a first generation american with Salvadoran lineage, I’ve never been patriotic. It’s always felt wrong. 

From a young age, I always felt there was something wrong with this country and what everyone had considered the correct norm. Being more informed now, I have too much anger to just play something that’s about nothing and live in contentment.

As far as hardcore, my favorite right now is definitelty BIB. Also, Gulch, and Warthog. My classics are: Rage Against the Machine, Bad Brains, Limp Wrist.

Henry (guitars): The personal is political. How is a Palestinian supposed to write about home without being political? How is a child supposed to write about their parent being overworked and exploited because they're undocumented, without being political?

When Sayuri says in the song "Madre," "your hands, exhausted, still holding mine," I'm like, yes, here is someone that responds to the guitar chords I'm playing with not only the vulnerability I was hoping to evoke but within a subject matter that is close to my heart and too often unsung. I'm like, why not take some of the vibes of pg. 99, envy, or Daitro and use them to "open up" some of the aggressive straight-up punk that Sayuri loves. 

I'm inspired by bands that manage this like NØ MAN, and American Nightmare but recently, I've been listening to punk bands that push other limits too--Soul Glo, H09909, and Fever 333 to name three from the top of the pile right now.

I gotta acknowledge [Deftones guitarist] Stephen Carpenter's influence too. Metal is another one of my loves. I'd go full [Converge guitarist] Kurt Ballou worship if Sayuri let me. I'm kidding (I'm not.) At the end of the day, our tug-of-war lands us in a sweet spot I'm proud of.

Hip-hop is as much a part of my music DNA, so I'm glad that from the get-go we've shared stages with acts like H.B.I.C. I hope, when we start having shows again promoters keep that showbill hybridity going.
 
Sayuri (vocals): I think it’s hard to separate yourself from being “political” when your whole existence is political. It is a real privilege to disconnect from politics. I think we all have so many differences that are almost polar opposites but we try to come to a middle ground. It can be hard but we try to make it work, we compromise.  

Some of my influences are Fertil Miseria from Colombia, the entire Agnostic Front Victim in Pain album, and Deftones, but I don’t think you can tell. 

Though the EP clocks in well under 10 minutes, there still seems to be a narrative arc that manages to cover family history, trauma, stories of migration, resiliency, and self acceptance. Was there an intention for the tracks to flow as such? Give me a look into the process. 

Sayuri (vocals): I had a couple of drafts saved in my laptop. A collection of writings of 2 or 3 years and when Compa started playing I started making them into songs. The song “Infestado” is about how my first studio apartment in NJ got infested with roaches in the last 4 months I lived there. I was so miserable. It definitely messed with my mental state but writing about it helped me to cope with it.

The song “En el Desierto'' was about how my parents crossed the border and I asked them to walk me through how they felt that day and looking back if it was even worth it. I wanted to write it from their perspective not my own because it wasn’t my story to tell. Often times the media and children of undocumented parents often chose a narrative that might not be necessarily correct.

When we had recorded the songs I realized that it had a flow. I wanted to start from my parents and end with myself. Transgenerational trauma is a real thing for everybody but we don’t have to carry that pain forever. It’s okay to be angry. I think many times anger is censored especially for people of color. We can exist with anger and I do think that anger comes from love. 

As you so perfectly put it, “White supremacy is a many-headed snake. Each of these songs is our way of chopping off their heads.” Specifically, the song “Brown” explores the more insidious ways that it affects the Latinx community and can prompt self-doubt. I’d love to hear your thoughts on that. 

Sayuri (vocals): White supremacy is very much ingrained in all non black people. White supremacy is present in the school systems, healthcare system, and in us. There are metal detectors in predominantly black and brown communities that from the beginning treat kids as criminals. Who gets access to good healthcare? We see now with COVID-19 the wealth gap grows and black and brown undocumented people are denied stimulus checks or any type of federal aid.

Harcore is not exempt from white supremacy. What I find troubling with a lot of harcore bands, especially all white bands is that many of them are very vague when they are speaking about current issues. I think the reason is because they do not want to alienate their fans who might be racist or far right. I think that’s cowardly. 

‘Brown’ is about growing up as a young fat brown girl and being made to feel worthless by other brown kids. It was very confusing to me. As I got older I realized that their actions were very much informed by white supremacist beliefs. They hated themselves and me. But why? I think white supremacy is very much a part of our world that it has us hating on people that sometimes look like us. 

White supremacy is a many-headed snake because it’s not enough to say you’re anit-racist. What are you committing to change about the way you navigate this world? How are you complicit?

It’s obviously an odd time to be releasing music, but I love that the EP came out on July 4th. Was that intentional? 

Sayuri (vocals): Yes, it was on purpose. Fuck patriotism, fuck the fourth, and fuck 12. 

Who are some local bands you think we should be keeping an eye out for? Prior to shutdown, how was the scene in Brooklyn of late? 

Mowri (drums): The scene was definitely booming with great shows from local bands. Some of my local favs are Shawty and Junta.

Sayuri (vocals): The bands I’ve been really into here in Brooklyn are not very new but gotta give a shout out to Namatay Sa Ingay and Plomo (some members are from Chi). You can check out Namatay Sa Ingay and Plomo. Gotta uplift the homies music!

No one escapes my lists! What’re 5 albums you can’t get enough of these days? 
 
Tati (bass): Wormrot, Voices and Indentured Pervert, Deli Girls 

Mowri (drums): BIB, Delux

Sayuri (vocals): Pure Hell, Noise Addiction

Henry (guitars): Loathe, I Let It In and It Took Everything

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Compa on social media: Instagram | Bandcamp

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