Throughout her career as a musician, Ceci Bastida has been, and is now, luminous. Starting at just 15 as a singer in the radical punk band Tijuana No!, named after the city where she was born and raised, she has spent her life and art devoted to speaking up and spreading light, a voice of both resistance and calm as an activist, solo artist, and current member of Mexrrissey, the Mexican Morrissey cover band.
“I wanted to find more good stuff, to talk about something a little bit lighter,” she told Jezebel on a rainy night in October. On Friday, Bastida released the Sueño EP, her first solo work in two years, since 2014’s excellent La Edad de La Violencía. That album was explicitly political, and though she’s got some songs of protest here—“Un Sueño,” with LA vocalist Aloe Blacc, is a devotional to the families of the disappeared students of Ayotzinapa—it is especially focused on love and inclusion, a side effect of, she tells us, looking inward for hope as the mother of a small daughter. Bastida embodies this inclusion and love in her global-minded collaborations with the aforementioned Blacc, Mexican-Chilean singer Mariel Mariel and Soweto rapper Spoek Mathambo, but also expresses her artistic curiosity and impulse to experiment. Sueño’s sonic template is similarly wide-open, dipping into genres like kwaito, highlife, dancehall and electro-pop.
When we spoke with Ceci, backstage before Mexrrissey’s New York appearance, she had recently performed on the #SchoolsnotPrisons Tour, and the election was still a week off. With fear and hope on the horizon, we discussed her songwriting process and staying strong throughout.