Photo by Frank Mojica
It was late in the afternoon at the Beach Goth festival on Sunday when a familiar refrain echoed across the festival grounds—¡Bidi bidi bom bom! My ears perked up and my eyes scanned the busy crowd of festival-goers. I zigzagged and dodged and made my way across the festival grounds and finally came upon a wonderful scene unfolding in front of a small outdoor side-stage. Booming from the PA was the rich, swaying Tejano pop beat and strident horn hits of Selena’s 1994 song “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom.” Onstage, the singer Karol Posadas was pouring her heart out, wonderfully embodying the late great Queen of Tejano music in a bedazzled crop top and leather jacket.
Posadas’ set, part of a lineup of Selena tribute artists slated for the weekend, was a refreshing change of pace for the Beach Goth fest, and the small crowd in front of Posadas was going crazy. One couple was doing cumbia steps to the beat. Out of nowhere a conga line formed. The artist born Selena Quintanilla-Pérez was tragically killed in 1995 at age of 23, but 20 years later she remains a legend, and you’d be hard pressed to find any fan of Spanish-language music who wouldn’t immediately know the words to her best-known hit.
Posadas, who lives in the San Fernando Valley, is 24 years old and she’s had a year of experience performing as a Selena tribute artist. She seems to be doing great so far, capturing Selena’s artistry with powerful vocals, accurate outfits, and serious pop star poise. After her 30-minute set I went up to her to get the story.
Do you do this regularly?
Yeah, I do. I actually have a live band called Como La Flor: A Tribute to Selena. It’s always live, but today I guess for the event they requested myself with [backing] tracks.
How many sets are you doing today?
I’m doing two, but I guess they canceled one, so I’m doing one now. Yesterday I did two.
What does Selena mean to you?
Well, it means a lot to me. That’s how I started singing. Every Latina that was born with a Latina mom — you know, you see the movie and you get inspired. She was like an idol, the person that you always want to be when you grow up if you’re a singer.
What’s your favorite song by her?
Oh, my god, I’ve got so many ones! “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom” is one of my favorite ones because I can actually do the raspy voice, which is what I have. I’m more into rock, R&B, and I guess that’s one of the songs that I can play with my voice more.
What songs did you play today?
Today I played “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom.” I played “Techno Cumbia.” I played “Amor Prohibido” and “Cobarde.” I usually play about 24, 25 songs but tonight it was only four.
Where do you play usually?
We play a lot in Texas. We’re going back right now in November. We’re flying over there.
Is the Texas audience into it?
Oh, my god. That’s her town so everybody goes crazy over there, so we get a lot of gigs from there.
Photo by Peter Holslin
Would you consider yourself a Selena impersonator, or how would you describe yourself?
I would say a tribute to her, because I don’t think anyone can actually do what she did. She’s very unique. I’d consider myself more as a tribute, honoring her music and almost like showing and demonstrating what she was wearing. We have some similarities, but I would never be close to her.
What does it take to capture her spirit, to play her music?
She had a lot of charisma, so I guess just one of the keys is to be able to actually interpret and give the energy that she gives. She was very energetic, always giving herself to the public, very nice. That’s one of the keys. And then, of course, having a good voice.
This is a Halloween-y event, but you’re not just dressing up for Halloween right?
No, no, no. When I usually perform I try to recreate her costumes.
Since this is the Beach Goth festival, what does “Beach Goth” mean to you?
To tell you the truth, I didn’t know about it. My brothers were all going crazy for it. I wouldn’t say I know about the music they’re playing tonight. It’s really cool, it seems like a lot of people are having fun. I feel like everybody’s free and doing whatever they want today, and that’s cool.
Are you more beach or more goth?
I guess Selena was neither beach nor goth, huh?
She’s between both. She has a little bit of everything.
Peter Holslin isn’t sure what kind of goth he is anymore. Follow him on Twitter.