3 Questions with Red Tailed Hawk Luna

photo credit. kerri lyn walsh.

photo credit. kerri lyn walsh.

in advance of his appearance at smartbar (4/5) we asked red tailed hawk luna a few questions...

red tailed hawk luna aka jose alberto shapes the smartbar community as a production engineer, skilled producer, and voice for social progress. hailing from cleveland, rthl's deep artistry and inherent integrity is evident in his dj mixes,  live mpc sets, and writing. we are honored to hand him the reigns in the room he knows so well.. 


one. is there a moment in time (art project, a certain teacher, etc.) when you knew that creating was going to be your life’s work? if so, can you describe that (memory, feeling, thought) for us?

i don’t think that there is any one singular influence or event that led me towards a creative life and pursuits. as a first generation puerto rican in the united states born into the proletariat, creativity seemed to be a basic element of life and survival. if necessity is the mother of invention then poverty must be the grandmother of creativity. we see this idea in practice within the birth of house music in chicago and techno in detroit. the utilization of cheap electronics and existing pieces of music by lower socio-economic status communities of color/queerness to create new musical movements. another more recent example would be some of the diy engineering displayed by puerto ricans on the island in the aftermath of hurricane maria and the subsequent abandonment by the us government. It is truly creative while simultaneously heart breaking. 

i think that creativity is an innate character quality that can not easily be taught. aesthetic, composition, process, and technique can all be taught but how does one go about teaching creativity?

two. how does where you are (personally, geographically, historically, etc.) impact the work you create? how does chicago factor into that equation, if at all?

i’m highly influenced by the environments I have navigated and existed in. i always research the indigenous populations of an area and pay some sort of respect to that energy upon entering that locale.

i mention my hometown of cleveland, ohio pretty much every chance I get as it has shaped me and my ideas more than anything else in this world. it's a smaller midwest rustbelt city proper full of urban/industrial blight, nature, and authentic people. the disposition of the city itself is a general "rough, rugged, and raw" kind of vibe. anything that i make embodies or represents cleveland in some way, shape, or form. at this point it is subconscious/involuntary yet always there. 

chicago is somewhat antithetical to cleveland but i love it very much and truly feel it's the best big city in the states. it's a thriving major metropolitan area full of culture where the wealth is on display and outside of a few larger parks, not much nature going on. chicago is without question my second biggest influence in my work and life. the differences between home and here only help inform my perspective/pursuits and i appreciate it greatly. chicago is a city of lights, whereas cleveland is a city of light. 31216!

three. what is the role of the artist in today’s world, for you?

i think that the primary role of the artist is to represent themselves, honestly and freely, in their creations. regardless of the medium, any work done outside the truth contained within the being of the artist is no longer art and transforms that work into a spectacle or farce. my perspective on this is very much influenced by the writings of situationist international founder guy debord. the second passage in his work "the society of the spectacle" states:

"reality considered partially unfolds, in its own general unity, as a pseudo-world apart, an object of mere contemplation. the specialization of images of the world is completed in the world of the autonomous image, where the liar has lied to himself. the spectacle in general, as the concrete inversion of life, is the autonomous movement of the non-living."

Manifest Chicago