Cristy C. Road has built a reputation in punk circles for her heavily political visual art, showcasing her skills through zines, books, tarot cards, and album art for bands such as the Muslims. Focusing on her identity as a queer latinx woman, these projects represent an important part of her creative expression, but to her, they are just one part of a larger whole.
While her visual work thrived, Road was sharing another part of herself with the world through music, most recently with her band Choked Up. While her illustration allows her the opportunity to express frustration with an unjust status quo, her music captures the parts of life that happen in between politics. Feeling pigeon holed into the themes of her visual art, Road explains “its an annoying task to be expected to be a certain way because you’re a woman or you’re latina or you’re queer”. Choked Up pushes against that expectation by making simple, catchy pop-punk rooted in everyday feelings.
The bands 2019 debut “Dichoso Corazon” is a love letter to the broken hearted, grappling with the experience of falling in love while falling apart. Road affirms her right to write personal, emotional music that is distanced from her political perspectives, noting that her largely white, male punk predecessors were afforded the luxury of writing about love and heartbreak. “Feelings are important. We love Jawbreaker, we love Selena. Why can’t I have fucking feelings?” Road asks. While Road’s identity does not drive the band politically, it shines through as “Dichoso Corazon” swiftly shifts between English and Spanish.
Sonically, Choked Up draws a heavy influence from 90’s East Bay punk and pop-punk, but Road’s appreciation for the emotive pop of her youth, including Selena, Cyndi Lauper, and Shakira, is a subtler force, bubbling up through hardened punk grooves in the vocal hooks of “Callin’ Me” and “Water Signs”. At the time of Dichoso Corazon’s original release, Choked Up’s lineup included Wes Ruiz and Rachel Alicia of Baby Got Back Talk and Gibbons, as well as bassist Rose Bomberg, and while it isn’t a formative influence in Road’s songwriting, the rest of the band’s interest in 2000’s emo became another ingredient in the band’s sound.
Two tumultuous years out from it’s initial release, Dichoso Corazon is being reissued on CD in celebration of Choked Up’s signing to Don Giovanni Records. For Road, who has often been seen as primarily a visual artist, this carries a special significance, an acknowledgement that she has just as much to offer the world as a musician as she does as an illustrator.