Hurray for the Riff Raff has an album – plus not one, but two London shows – on the way.
Alynda Segarra’s musical alter-ego is at Sebright Arms on 18 January before returning on 22 March to play The Dome, supporting new release ‘The Navigator’.
The album, which fuses Latin rhythms with ballads and all-out rock, tells the story of a street child named Navita searching for herself in a perpetually burning city. It’s a tale inspired by Segarra’s own search for identity as she journeyed from the South Bronx to New York City’s downtown punk scene.
So, lead single ‘Rican Beach’ deals with the gentrification of the South Bronx and impact of Puerto Rican culture on a changing city.
“All over the world there are heroes, who, despite suffering generations of oppression, are protecting the land and the future of our humanity,” says Segarra. “‘Rican Beach’ is a fictional place, but it was written with my ancestors in mind. It’s time to call on yours and to always remember: this land was made for you and me.”
Drawing inspiration from the likes of poet Pedro Pietri, ‘70s folk singer Rodriguez, and Puerto Rican activist groups, the 12 original songs cover subjects like marginalisation, finding your voice, and reconnecting with ancestors.
The follow-up to ‘Small Town Heroes.’ was produced by Paul Butler (Michael Kiwanuka, Devendra Banhart) and features percussionists Juan-Carlos Chaurand, Gregory Rogove (Rodrigo Amarante), a trio of Bomba drummers, and doo-wop singers from New Jersey.
Segarra, who first gained international attention with ‘Look Out Mama’ in 2012, developed her love of doo-wop and Motown growing up in the Bronx, before discovering the punk world of the Lower East side.
“Those riot grrrl shows were a place where young girls could just hang out and not have to worry about feeling weird, like they didn’t belong,” Segarra says. “It had such a good effect on me to go to those shows as a kid and feel like somebody in a band was looking out for me and wanted me to feel inspired and good about myself.”
It was also in the Lower East Side that she was introduced to travellers who inspired her to make her way, aged 17, to New Orleans.
“It wasn’t until I got to New Orleans that I realised playing music was even possible for me,” she remembers. “The travellers really taught me how to play and write songs, and we’d play on the street all day to make money, which is really good practice. You have to get pretty tough to do that, and you put a lot of time into it.
“The community I found in New Orleans was open and passionate. The young artists were really inspiring to me,” she adds. “Apathy wasn’t a part of that scene.”
And it’s clearly not a part of her continued output.
- ‘The Navigator’ is out on 10 March.