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GRRL016: Borders and riot grrrl feat. Mónica Mendoza of Le Ra & GRRRL Independent Ladies

In San Diego where I’m based, the question of what “to do” with the southern border is, in turns, ignored by many yet extremely relevant to others. For Mónica, who grew up in Tijuana, the border is a social construct that can bring people together.

In this episode, we talk about using the border to connect musicians and artists from Tijuana, San Diego, and Los Angeles and the importance of listening to music in our own languages. And of course, we talk about her band Le Ra and her frontera organization GRRRL Independent Ladies.

This episode also guests poet Felicia Williams and artist Alison Dunlevy.

If you liked this episode, please:

Listen Here

Download here. [~34 mins, 41MB]


  • [2:15] How do you know when your project is the way you envisioned it?
    • Inspiration of the Le Ra name from the artwork of her friend Eddy Miramontes (keep an eye out for news on him!)
    • Respecting the musicians who join you in your project
    • “We were traveling on different paths and then met at the right time.”
  • [5:30] “Do you think you could have gotten the same experience and feel if you had met up earlier?”
    • Changing/growing as a person and musician before experiencing “the right time”
  • [6:15] Le Ra – Sin Nombre
  • [10:15] Tijuana No! as an influence and part of roque en español
    • Representing latinos in music and talking about topics that relate to them
    • Globalism/imperialism in music
  • [13:30] Changes in female representation in music from Mexico (Mexico City and Tijuana)
    • “It’s not new!” The creation of a new generation of “grrrls”
    • How do we get more representation?
  • [15:30] No Girlfriends – Sheets (Unreleased exclusive!)
  • [18:15] GRRRL Independent Ladies as a hub for women to meet and inspire each other
    • Crossing the border, the border as an influence
    • Using music and the border to connect rather than divide people
    • Organizing fests with Los Angeles, San Diego, and Tijuana bands
  • [20:45] How will GRRRL Independent Ladies grow?
    • Documentation of this part of the scene
    • The influence of the 90s riot grrrl movement. “How can we continue to fight for these issues?”
  • [23:00] GRRRL Independent Ladies going across the border, something that riot grrrl didn’t necessarily do
    • The problems with the 90s riot grrrl movement when it came to touching on race, class, gender
    • “Now it’s our turn.”
  • [24:30] Some Kind of Lizard – Black Rain (Unreleased exclusive!)
  • [27:30] Being a woman (or even just a man) of color in the music scene
    • Tijuana vs. San Diego
    • “Am I not looking hard enough?”
    • Minority invisibility
  • [32:00] Art changing culture and society

Where to Find Mónica

Other Notes & Thanks!

Thank you to Mónica for joining me at the house for some tea and chats, and for inspiring me to start putting together the upcoming Grrl on Grrl mini music and art fest.

Intro and outro music is “Get Up Got It” by Sullen Ray, off their album Blue Minor.

Mixing provided by Gary Hankins.

Audio hosting costs covered by Greg Guiliano of Wait Think Fast Productions.

And to all my friends who have been so supportive of this project, I love you!

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