“When I grow up I want to be a classical violin player,” Sandra Treviño, 38, quotes her younger self.
As a young girl in Houston she always knew she wanted to work with music and it has always been a part of her life. She would go into her room, turn on the radio and listen to two types of music: heavy metal and classical. She eventually learned to play the violin and participated in her school orchestra for many years. More recently she’s expressed interest in picking up the accordion. A band member of the music group she manages, Descarga, offered to let her borrow the one he owns. So, Sandra has been looking online for instructions on the accordion, from the proper way to pick it up to playing it.
Her Texas childhood also included a very religious upbringing. When she was a teen the tasks of the sound engineer at her church caught her attention. She asked church officials if she could help out with those duties, she was informed that only males were allowed to do that job.
“I knew I could do it better,” she explains. She was persistent and continued to ask about it. Eventually, a council of church elders came to her home to explain the church policy and warn her about her insubordination.
She decided not to return to church with her parents, instead she began exploring life beyond church regulated music and books and embarked on a journey that eventually led her back to Chicago, the city where she was born. It was the impetus to her present vocation to music, something she works and sacrifices hard for despite parent disapproval.
That wouldn’t be the last of the resistance she encountered. On a completely unrelated note she shares the story about managing a station for Autobuses Tornado back in Houston. She was told to learn to drive a bus just in case there was an emergency one day. Then the day came that she had to get behind the wheel, and as the passengers boarded the bus the Mexican men began asking, “Who are you?”
“The bus driver,” She responded. Some of the men made a big fuss about it and ultimately they decided to get off. She still drove the bus on its scheduled trip from Houston to San Antonio.
Upon arriving to the Windy City, Sandra started attending local underground concerts. She was so impressed with local band Descarga that she was moved to create a fan page.
Band leader, Hector Garcia says, “her fan page was cooler than the one we created for ourselves.” Impressed with her initiative Hector decided to ask Sandra if she would manage the band.
“I told him, I didn’t know anything about managing bands,” Sandra remembers. “He said, neither do I, but we’ll learn together.”
Hector gave Sandra a few names and numbers with instructions on how to get started but it wasn’t until she attended the first band meeting at the old Earwax Café and she heard the band members discussing their agenda and goals that it sunk in.
Hector describes what followed next, like a domino effect, the way managing a band led to producing two television shows and the website, Enchufate.com. The band couldn’t get air time because there was no television coverage for local Latin alternative bands. Hector put his background in video and film to work and decided, why not create their own show and thus, Errores no Eliminados or ENE was born.
Hector recalls the first episode, “The audio was horrible, the images were bad, but we were the only ones out there–at these local shows– with a video camera.” He also didn’t think twice about teaching Sandra how to plug-in sound equipment or record and edit video.
“I learned how to edit, record, set up sound. When you’re involved in this business you should know how to set up sound systems, cables, lighting,” says Sandra.
For Hector it was about being practical, “If I’m not available you need to know how to edit. It was about having a more informed team.”
Long gone were the days of exclusive church rules or doubtful male passengers. Sandra was knee deep in the music world, her hands full with an appointment book, a growing list of contacts,cables and wires that needed to be kept untangled and properly connected. She also began finding herself in front of the camera with a microphone in hand interviewing local acts and later snagging interviews with international bands and singers.
And while she enjoys interviewing musicians because she likes to get to know more about them, she reveals one very surprising fact, “Video and editing is not my forte, I do it, and I don’t mind doing it but it’s not me—I’d rather write.”
She prefers to write longhand and pens poetry and journals about what’s going on around her. She feels, “Everyone should be keeping a history of what’s going on.” Her current dilemma is balancing how much to reveal in a book she’s writing about the Latin Alternative music scene in Chicago for the last ten years. Sandra says, she’s got a lot of stories and has seen a lot in that time. She expects to have a completed manuscript by the Summer of 2011.
After working with Sandra for over ten years Hector learned that, “she puts a magnifying glass on some things others wouldn’t notice.” She has also kept him accountable, asking about tasks and pushing him and goes on to quote her, “If you say you want something you don’t stop until you get it. You try again tomorrow.”
Sandra says, this attitude got her backlash from the music community, “When I first started I was attacked for asking questions. Now, I don’t care if people don’t like or disapprove of what I’m doing.”
Stephanie Celis, a 19 year-old college student, had a different take on Sandra’s work when she approached her and inquired about an internship with Enchufate and ENE. “She’s very organized she knows how to execute events.” One of Stephanie’s first lessons was to always carry a notepad for notes and impromptu interviews if the opportunity presented itself.
Something else Sandra feels passionate about, “I think it’s important that we support each other. We, as mujeres and as people working in a field that is not lucrative and that’s about passion should support each other more. If I know there’s an opportunity I am the first to knock but I leave the door open so you can follow me in.”
Sandra Treviños is the Proyecto Latina feature and first guest curator on Monday, August 16, 2010–event details and complete bio.