Making ‘music of rebellion’

Local band Kin Balam has hit the right note in musical fusion


Reported by Lisa Tanh

An artist from El Salvador is sparking a social revolution by fusing different cultural  musical elements.

Balam Axayacatl Santos Antonio, lead member of the band Kin Balam said musical fusion brings humanity closer to a better world.

“Whether that’s evolution, revolution, love, unifying, community, this [is] building a better life and building up a better world and society,” said Antonio.He claims to be the first artist to fuse Indigenous, Flamenco, Afro-Latin jazz, hip hop, Mesoamerican, South American and Central American music together. The band incorporates traditional instruments from various cultures such as: fish-shaped ocarinas, whistles, Congas bongos, afro-Latin jazz drums and Flamenco guitar.

“I’m not trying to be a classical guitarist, hip-hop artist [or] just a Native American musician,” Antonio said. “I’m breaking all these archetypes, molds and paradigms that we’re supposed to follow.”

Inciting rebellion through music

Collectively, Kin Balam’s songs are described as a “music of rebellion.”

Balam playing the Flamenco guitar at Cafe Deux Soleil Nov. 23, 2017 Photo by Lisa Tanh

“It’s rebellion against all the systems that try to cage us. It’s rebellion against all the voices that try to shut us down. It’s rebellion against all the racism that has been imposed on us. It’s just an expression of the way I try to break free and it’s powerful,” Antonio said.

Kiko Martin, a friend and fan who has attended every show, said Kin Balam’s music creates an awakening impact.

“He does a lot of Indigenous music and that’s very different from the type of music that you hear nowadays like rap, hip-hop. There’s nothing wrong with that but he has a lot of influences in his music.”

‘Never heard anything like him’

Cyrus Tionghay, another fan, said he has never heard anything like him.

“He’s very wise and spiritual,” Tionghay said. “I feel if you just get to know him and if he comes out with more albums, it’s going to heighten your spirituality and stuff.”

“I hope that [Kin Balam] pushes people to be more just in the way the live, the way they think and the way they connect to everyone around them and themselves,” Antonio said.

On Dec. 10, Kin Balam will be performing at the Calabash Bistro on Carrall Street.

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