Chloe Trujillo-Gypsy of the Canyon

“What is it but our own limitations, imposed by our self judgment? Our self-imposed blindness caused by others opinions; what is right or wrong? Spirit will set us free.”

photo by Cynthia Brando

photo by Cynthia Brando

This writing by artist and musician Chloe Trujillo accompanies one of her original “foulards”-beautifully dyed silk “art” scarves. She creates other fashionable and colorful pieces like t-shirts-“one can only see well through the heart”-and industrial like bags. Being a woman who collects scarves, I’m drawn to and intrigued by them-most with their rich symbology-from ancient Aztec designs to immediately recognizable images like Uncle Sam. She writes on her website about a piece for Dyers Eve, a dark colored scarf with floral arrangements surrounding a white caged bird and heart. The writing is based on a Metallica song. Her husband, Robert Trujillo is the bass player for the band. “The heart of life is bleeding in pain. Flowers of insanity (ancoloie), tyranny (aristolochin), lie (bugloss) and suffering (absinth and adonis) are creeping up the birds of the blinded dove of Peace’s Cage. She cannot fly free. Locked in, hell is burning up, true light gone. A fallacious symbol of spirit freedom hangs between wrong and right. Misleading stars, one cannot escape. The Eye is watching?”

photo courtesy of the artist

photo courtesy of the artist

This is heavy stuff, and in purchasing a piece from Chloe, you are getting so much more than perhaps just a “pretty” or interesting conversation piece. Like prize fighters who veil themselves in emblematic robes of personal meaning and identity before their dramatic reveal, wearing one of Chloe’s scarves invites the owner to begin a soul searching journey into the “doors of perception.” This is a positive invitation from Chloe. She talks with Music Emerging about how there is also darkness in the journey, and to not fear this, but to embrace it. Her art and “clothes of perception” are perhaps a harbinger for a magical new self-journey. 

M.E. "Concerning your scarves...It’s almost like you are inviting someone to explore themselves by purchasing a scarf with this special writing associated with it.”

C.T. "Not everyone is open to that-but I like to add some meaning to it; some depth-it’s not just the exterior that’s pretty. The thing is that I want people to be free-it’s not something imposed because everyone perceives something in their own way according to your background or experiences, whatever you beliefs are-so for me it’s interesting to keep things open." 

photo courtesy of the artist

photo courtesy of the artist

M.E. "You use a lot of ancient symbolism in your work-Aztec design, skulls, eyes-they're very predominant.”

C.T. "It just happens that way-I use sacred hearts, flowers"……

M.E. "For instance, you have a piece, "Flowers of Insanity”-What is the meaning behind this piece?"

C.T. "One flower represents suffering, that is where it’s surprising-I want to paint a kind of flower-sometimes I know the name and meaning of it-so I know I’ll paint that one in a certain color, because for instance, red roses have a certain meaning and white roses means something else-so flowers, depending on the color, they have different symbolism. Sometimes I paint something where I don’t know what it is, so I start to research afterwards; I believe that there are no coincidences or accidents; that it’s meant to be, and sometimes I just find out that I painted this flower because that is what it means for this piece. There are some I know the meanings and then some I didn’t even know what they were until I researched them-first I had to research their names after I found their image, and then I research the symbolism and what they mean. I find it amazing to see that it was that same meaning that I wanted to convey and I happened to choose that flower, and it’s the right imagery that came to me-it’s magical sometimes." 

M.E. “I was trying to think of the difference between vision and imagination-visions stick with me, and my imagination comes and goes."

Chloe at Topanga Days, 2015

Chloe at Topanga Days, 2015

C.T. Like you said, a vision stays. And I try to explain sometimes to people that there are visions that are just so strong that I have to paint them or otherwise….well, it’s almost like a demand that won’t go away. Sometimes it happens when I’m not able to access a canvas or paint right away. if I’m on the road or traveling-sometimes I have to draw it out-or write lyrics for music."

M.E. “How does making art and music co-exist with your mathematical/science background?”

C.T. "I’m happy to have that kind of mathematical mind for organizing things-even my schedule-because I’m doing art, music and fashion, and I’m pretty organized, so I think that allows me to move forward in these fields at the same time, but I started to get really mathematical when my art became more abstract-math was always fascinating to me-when it started being really abstract and seeing structures and...what do you call it-I know all my math terms in French-but you have a system, and can imagine in that system, in for example N dimensions and it requires imagination–N could be any number-so it requires your imagination and a creative mind to be able to visualize."

photo courtesy of the artist

photo courtesy of the artist

M.E. “So are you saying that there is this unknown aspect to what you are doing and you have to discover the equation to create it?”

C.T. "Yea, like in paintings, or even texts, there’s symbolic words or symbols or imagery-and then there are different layers of meaning to them. Like when I say a system in different dimensions-there is one dimension, but if you add-you can have a two dimensional piece, but if you add a third, or time to it, then it becomes a moving object and you add more and more"…..

M.E. “So a lot of your art and music comes from visions”.

photo courtesy of the artist

photo courtesy of the artist

C.T. "I try to be in the moment when I create-I don’t plan unless it's a commissioned painting or a specific song that I’m collaborating with somebody on, when I have total freedom to create something-then I let it come-It’s like channeling, I know not everyone is open to that, but I let it come and see, and there’s a lot of symbols that come-so that is why my paintings have a lot of symbols." 

M.E. “Do you know what the symbols are?”

C.T. "Sometimes I don’t even know what they are-sometimes I just paint and trust what I’m seeing-and sometimes other things come in and I add it to the painting, and I’m like, “Well, we’ll figure it out later-I’ll just trust the process”.  And sometimes I even turn over the painting when it’s done, and then turn it over again to look at it with fresh eyes, and sometimes I see the meaning of it-everything coming together and sometimes there are symbols and I wonder why I painted them, and then I research and so I will google whatever element I painted there, and sometimes I will begin to understand the whole meaning of it."

M.E. “Do you have a spiritual practice?”

C.T. "My own, yes. When I’m painting, it’s kind of a meditation for me. I do all kinds of spiritual practices, my own rituals-They are based on different modalities-I became a reiki practitioner and an angel card reader-I studied a lot of energy type work, and I’ve read a lot of books on different practices-I feel that living here has helped me re-connect with nature and also the cycles of the moon, so I do my little rituals based on certain things like that. Like I know if it’s a full moon I can write things down-I’ve learned to trust more of my gut feeling, and whatever feels right to do at the time.  I write a lot and it’s a part of a ritual too, and it might not be a daily disciplined thing, but sometimes I feel the need to write what I want to manifest and get clarity on-I like to meditate or “call in” or connect myself to “source”-people call it different things."

M.E.-"You are also an accomplished musician and have a new album coming out soon. Can you tell us a little about it?"

C.T. "What I’m finishing up now is a bunch of songs I started recording in 2011-that I wrote awhile ago, and I am finally am getting it mixed now-I decided to stop at 13 songs-I had many songs that I wanted to do. It got delayed because I’m so busy with my scarves and the art work and all that-but we’re finally mixing-and this is more of a kind of gypsy rock-there’s drums, bass and guitar-electric on almost all of the songs, and some of the songs there’s a standup bass, and the reason it became like gypsy rock, is because the producer I started working with is also a collector of obscure instruments-so he’ll go to a country and collect the old instruments he finds from these countries and then learn to play them-so when I first came to his studio and all these instruments, I was like “oh-I wonder how that would sound?” So we started playing around with different sounds and some songs have violin and accordion which is gypsy like-but then there’s instruments like the dilruba-it’s from India and played with a bow-so it’s almost like a violin-there’s tablas, bongos, different kinds of percussion-the cimbalom... there’s an endless list of instruments-I can’t even name them all."

M.E. “What are the lyrics like for this new album?”

C.T. "There’s more spirituality on these songs-the thing that happened and how it started is-always when I paint-you get into that zone-and I would have melodies that come into me-and some of my paintings actually have words written down inside the imagery or outside, but then I started writing when I was painting, and some of those became songs." 

M.E. “Do you still play with the band Descend?”

C.T. "Yea, it's an acoustic duo and the reason why we started it-is because both of us were in the same band together called 66 Steps, which was more dark and melodic, and then the bass player and I started playing around together-just guitar and bass, then we started to have some gigs. We recently opened for Missing Persons which was a great opportunity-we actually asked the crew if we could make it really intimate and have candles next to us-and it worked out perfectly, it was a little bit different." 

M.E. “I’m curious about your lyrics-you’re a very positive person and a lot of your lyrics or cover song choices are dark. Do you see beauty in darkness? Is it cathartic to make darker music?”

C.T. "I think it’s good to be positive, but you cannot always deny….because life is everything. I find it healing sometimes just to talk about darker things-it’s a way of expressing it and not just being always happy happy happy. Even the lyrics on my solo album-they are mostly positive, but some of them are more like a healing journey-I talk about the dark moments, but what I get from these moments are songs and this healing and awareness that now I have grown from"…..

M.E. “A lot of your music has an industrial-street vibe to it-but you have lived a long time in nature- filled Topanga Canyon. What is your relationship with nature in regards to your music and art?"

C.T. "I’m from Paris France, and I lived in New York because I did musical theater in NY for 2 years, and it was a very urban and big city, and then I moved to LA and lived in Venice. I always loved Topanga-In France my parents had a house in the country in the South of France and it was even more nature then Topanga. It was 10 km from a village that had 200 people living in it, and we would go every month of August there as a child and I would even go on my own and go for hikes and get lost by myself, and I enjoyed being by myself from a very young age. I feel that nature helps my creative side-I like to be in a quiet environment and I feel that all that urban street vibe is in me because I lived so long in the city, so it’s there, and then nature helps me to nurture my creativity and have clearer visions and more focus."

M.E. “Do you ever write any music that is story driven?”

C.T. "I do write stories, I write about everything, my own stories-stories based on people I know-invented stories-sometimes I change the stories around based on others experiences or my own. A lot of my gypsy rock songs that I’m writing now are based on personal stuff-more like spiritual based lyrics-experiences that awoken me to the next level of spirituality in my journey."

M.E. "You do have a very gypsy like aura to you-I know it’s not a part of your heritage, but what does the idea of gypsy mean to you?”

C.T. "It’s something that resonates with me, in the artistic sense-I got to know real gypsies that were very interesting to me-last year someone that loved my art approached me and said “I see that you’re doing a lot of gypsy stuff-“I’m gypsy”-he was a real gypsy. I like the tribal sense of gypsy culture-I also connect to a lot of the older practices and rituals-some gypsies haven’t been so effected by the modern world-that has a power to it-I compare it to native tribes here-I always felt connected to them as well-the traditions-there’s a connection that I can’t really put into words-it’s a way of being and listening to nature and what’s around you verses being on an electronic device all day long or in the car."

I had the privilege of getting a sneak preview of Chole’s new music to be released in the near future-Though she was adamant on repeating “it’s not mastered yet”-it’s brilliance shone through. 

The song "Fairytale" is ethereal, yet with a bluesy voice and a "new age" ambient vibe. It starts with just her voice and a mandolin, then builds up with other layered instrumentation in a “free flowing” form. 
“I am this fairytale you thought wasn’t true-I am this dream you had when your days were so blue”.

Another tune was a very European gypsy jazz tune-“Love Life”
“there is a little voice inside me that’s trying to be free.”

There’s one in French, and songs with an electronic feel like the song “Cosmic.” 

C.T. “I want to play live but there are so many instruments, so maybe a simpler version to get the vibe of it. I have some venues that offered for me to have an album release- I would also like to include my artwork somehow because I feel that they are connected-a mix of art and music."

Can't wait...In the meantime, check out some of Chloe's music on Soundcloud

Chloe's Website.

photos courtesy of the artist

photos courtesy of the artist