East LA currently has the best music scene in the world.
I’ve come to this conclusion because of its sheer number of top-notch, high quality acts that play an amazingly diverse array of musical styles. These groups exist on the edge of Hollywood -- ground zero for the American music industry. They’re rooted in deep musical traditions, mixed with contemporary influences. They benefit from a strong sense of community, mutual support, and slightly cheaper rents than the rest of hyper-gentrifying Los Angeles.
Yet despite their immense talent, these artists remain largely overlooked by mainstream tastemakers in the entertainment industry. Why? Probably because Latinxs are still not understood by those in power, despite the fact that they make up half of the city’s population. It comes down to the same reason why we don’t see many Latinx (or Asian) faces in Hollywood movies or TV shows, which is, essentially, racism.
Though he lives an entire ocean away, Shin Miyata has a better grasp of what’s happening musically in East LA than countless other record label owners and promoters who live just a short drive away. Because he is so steeped in the history of Chicano music, he can easily identify talent, links to tradition, and new musical directions. For the past 20 years, he’s been introducing authentic and diverse Chicano artistic expressions to Japan, helping the Japanese public understand the complexity of Chicano culture.
Not many people have the ability to act as cultural ambassadors between groups that are seemingly so different. Shin understands that our similarities already provide a baseline for interaction and connection. He chooses to highlight and celebrate the differences between us, in order to expose others to qualities that he deems admirable, inspirational, and beautiful.
It’s this sort of international interaction between groups of people done on a local, grassroots level that is the best aspect of his work. He proves that it’s possible to build mutual respect, understanding, and solidarity between people from different cultures -- and have a really good time doing it.