Hurray for the Riff Raff's Alynda Segarra admits she's always late. It was only two years ago that she properly listened to David Bowie's epic 1972 concept album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. Fast-forward to 2017, and the record is the foundation for her celebrated group's sixth album, The Navigator, an LP that coasts on Americana grooves accented by soul-dipped vocals and some of Segarra's strongest songwriting.
The Navigator plays in classic Bowie fashion, following an imaginary protagonist named Navita Milagros Negron who grows up in New York as an outcast coming to terms with her ancestry. Despite their roots in fantasy, the songs are a direct reflection of Segarra's own past: She left her native Bronx at the age of 17 to hop freight trains across the country before settling in New Orleans and finding her voice as a queer Puerto Rican woman. "Navi is queer and part of this underground DIY culture and one of the street kids, which was my experience in my youth, and still is now," says Segarra, referencing tracks like the teeth-baring "Hungry Ghost." She adds, "I feel like queerness is always a part of my music, like it's the lens that I see the world in." Now, after creating her fictional persona, she believes she's finally ahead of the curve. "Sometimes you have to do it yourself because no one's going to represent you," Segarra says. "I came out of this feeling a lot more in touch with who I was--and more powerful."
Hurray For The Riff Raff's new album, The Navigator, comes out March 10 on ATO Records.
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