“A lot of stuff I don’t understand, I don’t understand the immigrant law, but I understand children”, Making Movies frontman Enrique Chi explained as we dove into the Immigrants Are Beautiful Tour, “I had no choice when I came here… I understand.” Extracting Enrique Chi from the mainstage, where his pulsating growls adds fuel to the delivery of each performance, was a natural and welcoming tone on the other end of the telephone, gearing for their performance in Dallas and just finishing up a performance once again with Los Lobos for ACL.
Inviting fans to submit their stories, images, and stance on being an immigrant or DACA recipient, Chi’s passion seeped through the stories of others. “’What else am I gonna do, what else do I need to do to stay in this country?’ is what she told me. Unfortunately, this is not uncommon.” Chi continued to explain, once again touching back on children and his own experience. No amount of polished words could simply portray the utter ludicrous Chi tried to comprehend, going back to the DACA recipients.
“For people with that fear every day is harder. Any of these kids doings- maybe I can’t get a scholarship, a driver’s license- living and growing up with this fear.” Sharing the fear within these stories seemed to motivate the purpose. “That’s the goal of the tour, to celebrate we’re all in this together; celebrate each other’s differences.”
Trying to share a moment of bliss to counter this fear, Chi added another story of a young man who told him how “alive” he felt during the song “Cuna De Vida”, the bands most recognizable single on the abstract and physical throes of love. This wasn’t spoken in a way to ignore the problem but simply to represent both halves of the tour. Chi spoke in a manner of calm, collectiveness that still had the potential to harness a heavy blow.
Of course, not ones to shy away from making their voices known, E. Chi, Diego Samuel Chi, Juan-Carlos Chaurand and Andres Chaurand, approached thoughts, emotions, and global surroundings through reflective eyes on their latest album I Am Another You. Since their 2013 album, A La Deriva, we were introduced to stories and the band’s fusion of rhythmic Latin-psych that captured a communal sense with only glimpses of personal intimacy.
Through the comfort in the conversation that Chi weaved casually, and the over analytical mind that was speaking to him, I felt that there was more to this album; a personal connection than previously heard. I rambled on dissecting I Am Another You, embarrassingly laughing to the over extent of numerous listens and the passion that cycled from artist to listener, expecting an awkward silence on the other end. “You sound like me when you really like an artist and you’re trying to figure it out,” Chi’s genuine acknowledgement smoothly carried on, “This is how it is to be on the other side and I’m flattered.”
“You hit it dead on though,” said Chi to my novel of an explanation. Confessing this is when Making Movies became men. A simple statement that hushed all thoughts as Chi then reciprocated with his own tangent, bouncing from the ideals of facing “real stuff and making choices with consequences” to the fractured bond of his cousin. “I’m writing about the real guilt, about leaving my family and how I can’t be there,” Chi said, “It’s what my cousin experienced [“Locura Colectiva”] when he moved from Venezuela, and the chaos there, back to Panama, and people treated him differently because he’s an immigrant. Even though he speaks Spanish and I don’t understand the difference, there’s no skin color difference, yet people still treated him different.”
Stubbornly wanting more, I continued to harp on the question of someone who is constantly singing of other’s stories. Where was his? Unlike other artists where hesitation would prevent this continuous dig, Chi’s openness and humble demeanor allowed to comfortably ask. Through the fluidity of the album where bits and pieces of messages are strewn throughout connecting each track as a whole, individually, each broken piece represented the “real stuff” Chi mentioned earlier through the transition of becoming men. Ultimately, leaving the track “Alma” as what I assumed was his most personal reflection.
“This is about me trying to catch the spirit in a song. I feel like I’m tapping into old DNA which all trace back to African rhythms and when I fell in love with Cuban music,” said Chi. Breaking down this further to a relative who loved Cuban music, whom he never met, Chi directed this back to the “old DNA” that resurfaced on that track validating in every aspect, I am another you.
Currently finishing up the last leg of the tour from House of Blues in Anaheim, The Mint in Los Angeles to San Jose at the Forager, Making Movies reflective celebration can not only be felt at each show but within the music they create. Touting a banner with the words strongly painted, “We Are All Immigrants”, Making Movies’ message is clear. I then was transported back to the words Chi spoke during their last show that seemed to embody the spirit he captured, the politics, and the heart.
“[And] I think about instruments and music, and I think about Cumbia and how that’s an African rhythm and it’s mixed with indigenous flute music and put to ‘decimas’ – which is what the Spaniards brought to those people – and I think everything we have that is beautiful comes from human beings sharing their creativity. So how the fuck is ‘immigrants are beautiful’ a controversial statement?”
These were men who showed beauty through everyone’s story, for those without a voice. These were men who showed weakness through their own story, for those without a voice. More importantly, these were men who showed what connected us all- the unmistakable pain, strength, and beauty of being human as their voice. Personalizing the story and connecting one chapter to the next, I Am Another You is praised for its worldly concern as a whole and individually, through a human quality. Continuing the story, You Are Another Me will be a 5-track protest album out December 1st showcasing the other half of the men.
Stream I Am Another You