Denver musicians weigh in on Pride, being openly gay artists in 2012 and Freddie Mercury
by Ryan Martin and Photoroadies
Israel Jimenez (of PANAL S.A. DE C.V.)
Panal's layered, instrumental songs contain unique blends of metal, latin and Mars Volta style prog-rock. Panal drummer Israel Jimenez sat down with us to discuss masculine Latinos, gay classical composers and the Barry White School of Love.
Westword: You seem to come from a strong Latino background, which has a reputation for being very masculine and traditional. Have you encountered many obstacles being open in that community?
Israel Jimenez: Certainly. I learned early on that adaptation was key. Since all the Latino male figures in my life were gunning to be bad-ass number one, I had to try to follow along, even if it meant showing off my girl-throw on the baseball field. Of course hanging out with girls certainly didn't help my cause either. Them boys were ruthless.
Being that PANAL's music is instrumental, you obviously don't have lyrics to address sexuality within. Does sexuality play any role in your music?
I didn't think so until someone told me that our song "Alpenglow" was their song to do it to. I could see it because the song starts off lush and groovy and ends loud and abrasive, chock full of peaks and valleys. Those are lessons from the Barry White School of Love.
Some historians cite homosexuality influencing closeted gay composers like Tchaikovsky, Schubert and Leonard Bernstein to make notably "softer" music. As a gay instrumentalist who makes notably hard music, how does this assertion strike you?
Softer as in daintier? Hey, I'm not opposed to putting a light-hearted, pizzacato'd vamp in our music. We'll rock the shit out of it a few phrases down.
Do you see sexuality as being relevant to understanding an artists work?
Sure, especially if it'll make their stories more compelling. However, they should all go to the Barry White School of Love to learn a little seduction.
In the past being an openly gay musician was a liability -- and now, with Pride and an established gay culture, it can be an asset. What has your experience been being an openly gay musician?
Most have been really cool, while a few still stand sixty feet away from me when I enter a room. It doesn't bother me much because I'm there to do my job or hang out with the bandmates, friends and all of the cool random people in the Denver music scene. They're a strong support system.
Some lesbians we've spoken with have said it is easier for a female musician to be "out" than a male. Do you agree with that?
Yeah because even though I'm all fancy free, sometimes I feel like I still have to be careful around my musical contemporaries, otherwise I'll make someone feel uncomfortable. That's when I become the quiet one, or the one that leads the cat calling when there are some hot lesbians around.
PANAL S.A. DE C.V., 12:45 p.m. Saturday, June 23, Westword Music Showcase, The Church, 1144 Broadway Avenue. Buy tickets to the Westword Music Showcase and get more information.