By B. Simm
CALGARY – Bedford-Stuyvesant, commonly known as Bed-Stuy, is a neighbourhood located in Brooklyn, NY that’s predominately black and Hispanic. Nelson Hernandez-Espinal, singer-songwriter who fronts the band Stuyedeyed (pronounced tie-dyed with an S in front), was born, raised and still resides in Bed-Stuy, which he refers to as “lower-class”. Living on the peripheral of New York’s affluent, Hernandez-Espinal and all the other members of the band, who are also Latino, are driven by a punk ethos that embraces equality and opportunity for those on the lower end of the economic scale – the “disenfranchised” says Hernandez-Espinal.
Their music is a fusion of garage, fuzz, furious rhythms and free-flowing feedback that subsides into trippy ‘60s and ‘70s melodies with a Latino flair. It’s angry, forceful and political, but also soothing and seductive… Bed-Stuy raising its voice.
Obviously, you’re not part of the cocktail sippin’ hipster scene. The goal isn’t to look pretty and play pretty. Stuyedeyed is a defiant statement. Where from Bed-Stuy does that stem from?
People telling you “no” your entire life. Black, brown, and Indigenous people are often made to carry the weight of their people and fit this mold, these stereotypes are so toxic, more specifically in America. NYC is the #1 monument to decadence. We’re trying to sift through the noise and find a place to talk about this. That’s always an uphill battle and that’s where the intensity in our music and performance comes in. I’d say it’s less angry, less angst but freak yourself out. Be uncomfortable. Music isn’t a fucking fashion show.
You’re also very attached to Bed-Stuy. It’s your community you’re fighting for, not running away from. What’s great about it, what goes on there that makes you want to dig in?
Bed-Stuy is always a home for me, but I’d say my connection is with resilient people. Bed-Stuy was a forgotten neighbourhood to NYC, in relationship to local government. Bed-Stuy is a very proud neighbourhood and extremely real. The people reflect that. There’s love in the hood, and while that has been exploited, there ain’t nothing like it. Community is powerful when you tend to your people.
Fuzzed-out garage rock. Yes it is! It’s got teeth and some soul driving it. Where do you trace that back to?
As for the fuzz, it’s definitely cliché for a reason, but Black Sabbath for sure. That’s definitely my first exposure to such ‘abrasive’ sounds like that… And all local New York garage rock bands. I also listen to a lot of soul, R&B, tropicalia and Latin music.
There’s some really seductive riffs and sweet spot soloing, the notes very round and warm within this wall of chaos coming down.
To put it simply, I think of the sounds we make as taking up a certain amount of space. Subtly highlighting parts and the instruments with tone and dynamics is what shapes the song. Chaos can be a really good base when you give it a voice and spotlight when needed.
The vocal delivery. It roams from aggressive chanting to tender spoken word, definitely switches up garage!
Not every story needs to be told screaming. Some perspectives need to be shared patiently, quietly and with love.
Stuyedeyed is at the Palomino on Sat., May 26.New York, Palomino, Stuyedeyed