ListN Up: Maria Chávez (May 20, 2022)

ListN Up is a weekly series of artist-curated playlists that offer an intimate sonic portrait of contemporary artists by showcasing the diverse and stylistically varied music that influences their creative practice. 

Born in Lima, Peru and based in NYC, Maria Chávez is best known as an abstract turntablist, sound artist, and DJ. Coincidence, chance, and failures are themes that unite her book objects, sound sculptures, installations, and other works with her improvised solo turntable performance practice. Her large scale sound and multi-media installations have been shown at the Getty Museum, the JUDD Foundation, Documenta 14, and HeK (Haus der elektronischen Künste Basel). She is currently on a medical sabbatical due to receiving brain surgery in February 2019 and will return to performing for the public in 2023. She appreciates everyone’s patience and compassion during this difficult time.

Hello! My name is Maria Chávez, and I wanted to thank Amanda and everyone at I CARE IF YOU LISTEN for having me this week. There’s no real theme to the playlist outside of the fact that this is stuff I’m literally listening to right now: stuff that’s newly released and will be released in the summer to tracks that are from the 70s. It’s a big mishmash of different genres and eras, but if you know me and my DJing style, you know that I have no rules — I play whatever I like and put it all together, so this playlist is no different. I hope you guys like it. I’m curious to listen to it a few years from now because I know that this playlist will also reflect a marker in time for me as I’m entering my final year of brain surgery recovery (hopefully!). Everyone keep your fingers crossed. I’m hoping to be able to start taking booking this fall for 2023. If everything continues to go according to plan, then I’ll hopefully see you guys next year. In the meantime, this is my final year of recovery, so I’m rebuilding my music library and just trying to get geared up to re-enter the wild again. Thank you to everyone for your compassionate understanding during such a wild time — also while you’re all dealing with such a wild time with the pandemic and everything. I just hope everyone is safe, and I hope that this playlist enters your moment in life in a positive way.

“The Truth Is” by Σtella

The album this track is on is about to be released via Sub Pop this summer. I hadn’t heard of Σtella’s stuff, but when I heard this track I found them to be a very smart and gorgeous voice. The artistic direction of the music video for the first single is really complicated and mixed with the lyrics of the song, kind of hit super close to home for me. I’m sure it will for a few people that watch it. I like smart yet vulnerable moves like that. I can see why Sub Pop signed her.

“The Human Body” by Pylon

I recently discovered Pylon while in Seattle after I was at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington this spring for the closing of my solo exhibition. My best friend Riley and I were having drinks at a bar in Capitol Hill that had turntables, and the bartender was the DJ. He put this record on and we begged him to play the whole album once the first track blew us away. I can’t believe this was made in 1980! In Athens, GA, too, which was such an important time and scene in American music history. Realizing that makes me understand why some mid-80s bands sounded so similar. THIS is where they got that sound from — it was Pylon! The whole album is perfectly long enough, but you can’t help but loop it once it’s finished.

“Breedlove” by Geoffrey Landers

I always get excited when I play this track in my DJ mixes (which is mostly radio mixes these days). I love playing tracks that throw the listener off for a minute. They can’t decide if they like the track or not, but suddenly they want more. This song did that for me. Once the vocal sample hits? It’s over. You’re on the dance floor.

“Ancora Tu” by Lucio Battisti

OMG. This song. I can’t stop listening to THIS SONG. And its sister house remix is sooo addictive. I feel like it should have been an intro to an Italian Soap Opera in the 70s or something. It wasn’t, but if I had anything to do with it, it would have been.

“Pushin too hard” by The Seeds

For me, this track is all about the Rhodes solo at the bridge. It totally changes the whole vibe of the track from ‘basic 60s pop’ to this experimental psych-cool. And the message feels appropriate with all the oppressive politics going around here in the U.S. Being pushed too hard. Super cathartic when added to your workout mix.

“Mama’s Kick” by All in One

I’ve been listening to Carl Cox’s DJ mixes from 1990-94 for a few months now and remembered this track from my baby rave DJ days in the mid 90s. I almost teared up when I heard this track on one of his mixes. I had a flashback to the raves in Houston, all the people and fog. Then I found a rip of it from 1998 that I had when I was a working teenage DJ. Of course it sounds really bad due to digital aging, so now I need to find the original vinyl record. Wish me luck. I can’t wait to play it out in clubs when I’m able to DJ in public again next year. Everyone is going to go crazy.

“Marry Me” by DJ Call Me

The sweetest yet “The Shaggs”-y-est track. It’s just so cute. Cutest ear worm.

“NY Lottery / CBD Kratom” by Devin KKenny

Devin is such an incredible artist from his visual art, which is so conceptual yet current, to his ability to make any type of music he wants. Here, he’s mimicking an old punk recording style, with his vocals bare, the guitar crunchy, and the track short. It’s like an unintentionally intentional homage in a way. Devin and I will be releasing a Flexi disc later this year via the label Ballastnvp. I love how different our track is from this album. He has so much range. It’s been exciting to watch him evolve as an artist.


I CARE IF YOU LISTEN is an editorially-independent program of the American Composers Forum, funded with generous donor and institutional support. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author and may not represent the views of ICIYL or ACF. 

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