Dallas-Based Artist CAMÍNA Is Using Her Music to Advance Systemic Change

CAMÍNA BELatina Latinx
Photo credit Rambo Elliott

Initially inspired by the ongoing treatment of asylum seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border, Dallas-based artist CAMÍNA released her first single, “Cinnamon,” while announcing her debut album “Te Quiero Mucho” due out October 2, 2020. The marimba-infused trip-hop beat of “Cinnamon” is the perfect introduction to the album’s Latin musical influences.

Sung through a distorted megaphone, the single combines CAMÍNA’s haunting vocals with unexpected lyrical elements like African-American spirituals (“Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen”), the rallying cry of grassroots activism (“Si se puede” or “Yes we can”), and feelings of helplessness for the future (“We will rise above, but the damage is done”). 

“It is my hope as an artist to communicate through my individual experience a thoughtful critique to our political, economic, and social systems, and to encourage people to learn, engage, and make steps towards the systemic change necessary for social progress,” CAMÍNA says.

The music video, shot and directed by Daniel N. Johnson who has created videos for Black Lives Matter and the Bernie Sanders campaign, among many other artistic projects, created a concept to emphasize the trippy nature of the track. The “Cinnamon” video depicts closeup shots of CAMÍNA’s lips, hands and eyes, plus quick cuts and desolated backdrops. 

“I wanted to put the aesthetic and conceptual themes of Ingmar Bergman’s classic film “Persona” and the sentience-gaining robots of the show “Westworld” into a blender, stir in a slightly off-kilter editing style that matches the haunting lo-fi, glitchy repetitiveness of the song, and pour out something that felt unique and representative of CAMÍNA and her message,” Johnson revealed. “I had envisioned a doll-like version of her as the filtered or edited version of our expressed selves — projecting an air of innocence and perfection — who slowly gains awareness of her body and the world in which she inhabits. It was important to connect her Mexican heritage and intention behind the lyrics with the archival imagery of field-laborers, protests, and police brutality, and create a film that is simultaneously beautiful and discomforting, like a daylight horror film that continues to make you think long after you’ve seen it.”

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 For her, creating a musical universe filled with divine feminine emotion, cultural wisdom and insightful imagination while constantly playing with a relationship of identity and duality, is a reflection of who she is as an artist. Mentored by Kevin Jonas Sr., father of the future Jonas Brothers, CAMÍNA grew up singing in the church choir, later trained as an opera singer and toured with Broken Social Scene and The Polyphonic Spree.

Although she draws on various genres including electronic music, trip-hop, lo-fi R&B, and avant-garde, CAMÍNA, whose real name is Ariel Saldivar, has always been inspired by her Hispanic heritage, her eclectic upbringing, and travels to the New Mexico mountains. 

“Camina,” means “walk,” and her debut album, “Te Quiero Mucho,” represents her name and how she dreamily wanders through personal narratives about love and loss, ruminations on current events, and finding strength in the face of adversity. “This record is about resilience and honoring my heritage and those that have come before us,” says Saldivar.

Featuring deep bass infused with hazy, crackling instrumentals, layered with Saldivar’s soulful vocals, “Te Quiero Mucho,” an album produced by Black Taffy, shows a chameleonic artist with a sharp tongue and a soft heart. “Our goal was to make a dramatic record in English and Spanish by combining hip hop, trap, and ambient music with indigenous music from South America and Mexico,” Taffy explains. “Every song started out being sampled from a dusty record or forgotten cassette tape.”

 Enjoy CAMÍNA’s first single “Cinnamon” and music video below.