Meet Flores, the Indigenous Artist Making Us Reevaluate Love
Flores is an artist who isn’t at odds with humanity, contrasting the lack of empathy we deliver to ourselves, the empty gestures we condone and the denials we endorse. Without backstory, Flores is an artist whose vocal talent and sultry sound would land impeccably in the palate of current R&B, a true chanteuse meritorious of being championed amongst this generation’s best. What is equally important is the message of reverence and truth that Flores shares. It’s a story of hope and compassion that vastly expands upon the typical tropes of love and heartbreak found in most R&B songs.
Flores was born in El Paso, Texas and raised on the Tigua Indian reservation, tucked up adjacent to the border with Mexico, in the oldest part of the city. She was raised by an activist mother, who started the "Ni Unable Mas" movement dedicated to preventing the continual violence against women in Mexico and South America. That source of feminine power and grace despite adversity clearly resonated in Flores' artistic soul.
She’s a bilingual artist whose upbringing is foundational in her musical work. Lyrically, that activism, that pride of purpose befitting her Indigenous and Mexican roots, proves to be a source of both narrative inspiration and creative style. Much of her visual work is draped in Meso-American imagery, particularly those relating to female strength and dignity. Growing up as the youngest of five, Flores described herself as private and shy but she always had the urge to be an artist, to have an outlet to share her frustrations, to express herself in the context of the larger world. Inspired by a multi-generational household of musical influences, her taste spanned jazz greats like Sarah Vaughan to the activist rock of Rage Against the Machine.
Her identity, one she knew as a story untold, was a huge driver to grabbing a platform - to add a needed voice to a conversation, to give hope and inspiration to others who felt marginalized or unheard. Flores rightly understood that controlling narratives did just that; they allowed for control. History and knowledge are power, and we are feckless without the ability to tell our own stories. "America and Spain alike, have depended on our labor for centuries. Often labor of the poor, black and people of color. Yet, we are deliberately left out of the scope of history, justice, or the education system. It's time for change." This 'ancestral reclamation' is critical to Flores' art. It’s a thematic extension of her identity tightly woven into her gifts of story and song, always driving awe before awareness but landing both in the listener’s ears.
Musically, her gift of storytelling, of self-love and compassion, meshes perfectly with her classical R&B-adjacent sound. "Fools Gold" is a perfect embodiment of that sound, a retro melody with singing strings, a chasing baseline and slugging dub beat. It could be a Stax or MoTown catalogue staple, but Flores makes it new and vivacious with her euphonious cadence. Credit to her long-time producer, writer, and collaborator Maths Time Joy who has purposefully steered Flores' sound to one of religious promise, an aural experience of deft indulgence, balancing her immense capabilities with dramatic tension.
While the subject manner of "Fools Gold" veers atypically more conventional, her typical anti-prosaic delivery allows a long-standing romantic folly, one of love we cannot afford, to have a voluminous effect within a subtle context. As Flores explains, "If you've ever bought into the idea of someone's genuineness and came to realize over time that those things were only a method of acquiring your commitment or attachment....this song is that bittersweet relief and the inevitable goodbye." Wherever our hearts land, Flores brings us the best rendition of our human selves, a genuine force of good virtue, foolish to deny, played mellifluous on us like golden honey in our ears.
Listen to "Fool's Gold" below: