Loving With New Eyes: An interview with Amanda Flores

I met up with Amanda Flores, who plays in Rosaries and Buried in Yellow, on a Tuesday morning at Nellie’s in Humboldt Park to discuss music projects, self-love, and staying sober. Amanda ordered scrambled eggs, and I ordered coffee and oatmeal. We joked about our eating habits; “I eat like a child,” said Amanda, “And I eat like an old person”, I responded. The avena de coco (oatmeal) was served with cinnamon hearts, a preface to the conversation that would follow, centering self-love and love of community.

In terms of music, you’re a part of Rosaries and Buried in Yellow, you’ve been throwing d a r k w a v e s nights at Beat Kitchen, and will be starting a new Cumbia vs New Wave night mid-summer. Is there anything about these projects you’d like to highlight?

Amanda Flores: Right now, most of the work that I’m doing is on my own, since my bandmates are traveling or up to other things in their lives. I’m thankful that they are getting to have these experiences of traveling the world while I get to focus on writing which reflects what I’ve been up to. I just got a new acoustic guitar that can be plugged in. I was influenced by seeing someone perform with just an acoustic and a pedal. Buried in Yellow will be coming out with an acoustic album, with the lyrics focusing on “romance to self.” I’m writing love songs to myself and I want them to span all of the emotions: joy, sadness, all of it in between. I also found someone with saxophone skills and would like to put that in the mix. There is another Rosaries album in progress.

And d a r k w a v e s at Beat Kitchen is a space for people who might not feel like they quite fit in any other scene. It’s kind of where the “leftovers” from each scene come together. I’ve had people perform at the night who say that they had never played in front of that many people before. The goth scene can also be overwhelmingly white, despite there being a lot of black and brown involvement in the culture, there aren’t always spaces to gather around it. It’s been nice to create a space where bands are reaching more people and the diversity is present. I’m excited for the next d a r k w a v e s event. We’ll have people involved from Milwaukee, Ohio, and my cousin from Texas will be vending. I haven’t seen her since we were jumping on beds creating chaos in childhood. I’m glad we get to come together in this setting.

Over the past few months, you’ve been throwing a lot of events and have rolled out with Flores Negras Productions. What interested you in creating your own events?

AF: I didn’t feel comfortable in existing spaces, I’ve been sober for over a year now which has made me more intentional, more observant. I am starting to see things differently, like I’m no longer blind to what’s going on. There’s this toxicity in nightlife that encourages people to get drunk but is followed by laughing at the behavior afterward. There’s this enabling to drink excessively but no support to get better. It’s important to talk about and think about health. I enjoy holding my own events because of the intention put into the space to make it safe. I’ve been following stickers around Chicago for a while now. When I stand at bus stops, or walk around, I check different signs for different artists. I thought it would be nice to have those I interview doodle on a “Hello My Name Is” sticker to get some added perspective of where you’re at in this moment.

I’ve been following stickers around Chicago for a while now. When I stand at bus stops, or walk around, I check different signs for different artists. I thought it would be nice to have those I interview doodle on a “Hello My Name Is” sticker to get some added perspective of where you’re at in this moment.

AF: This is very therapeutic.

How has visual art been a part of your life?

AF: Visual art was my first love. I remember begging my parents to take me to the Art Institute when I was young. They put me in a summer camp with varying programs, art, sports, science, but I wanted to take the art classes. When I got older, I realized I did not want to go to art school because I hated the way other’s influences would impact my own art. I went through a phase where all I did was draw anime. I wanted to be the best anime artist, but when I got back to my personal art, I saw this influence so strongly it was harder to make it my own. In high school, I took art classes, but I had this teacher who wanted me to make replicas of existing art, and that didn’t feel right. I wanted to create my own so I dropped the classes. I consider myself self-taught; some of my favorite artists are self-taught. I didn’t need to go to a university to be told what to create.

In addition to creating intentional spaces around music, you founded Chicago Women Warriors, bringing people together around healing. The first time you and I met was at the first PB&J for the homeless, where you had people donate supplies to make lunch bags and distribute them around the city. It’s been great to see how the project has remained consistent while also evolving over the past two years.

AF: I’ve been talking to a homeless shelter to see if it’s possible to throw a barbeque where there would also be a barber to provide free haircuts. I wish that I could throw the event at a park, but it’s illegal to feed the homeless, which is frustrating. There’s a lot to work around: police, laws–but I’m hoping to make an event like this happen.

Surviving the Mic will be returning with its survivor-based open mic nights every second Monday of the month, starting on September 9th, 7-9pm, at K.L.E.O. Community Center, 119 E. Garfield. Surviving the Mic centers survivors of any type of trauma, encouraging writing and performing as a means of taking ownership of personal narrative. Founders Nikki Patin has been busy raising her amazing son, starting a new job, and continuing to work on her personal art, while co-founder Mojdeh Stoakley has been performing both poetry and music for Radiant Devices. Chicago is lucky to have them back and ready to share their love of writing with the community! Have questions? Contact survivingthemic@gmail.com.

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