AUSTIN, Texas - As Dia de los Muertos 2022 celebrations continue, a local Austin band is using their music to share their culture and open up discussions about topics not often spoken of.
"I would describe our music as music without restrictions or limitations." Tori Baltierra, lead singer and guitarist of The Tiarras says. "We grew up around a lot of genres."
The three women in the band are all sisters, they were raised by Mexican American parents whose family legacy includes entertainment venues in Austin, their Dad, Hector was a popular DJ and one of the original B-Boys in Austin.
"We have a lot of Latin roots in our music with the percussion and the Spanglish, but also we have some elements of rock and reggae," Baltierra says.
Their songs aren’t your typical love songs. They touch on topics like coming out, it’s the focus of their song, ‘Let love free.’
"It was like my coming out song. I was in the closet for a long while and I had a point in my life where I just wanted to let love free," Tori says.
The three sisters started singing at a young age, known as the Tiarra Girls, but have since stepped into their power as Latina women, changing their band name to ‘The Tiarras.’
"A lot of people feel uncomfortable to talk about the things that we make songs about," Sophia Baltierra, the band’s percussionist says. "And you know you’re kind of forced to listen to it because you love the beat you’re dancing to it and then you kinda listen to the lyrics and you are like, ‘oh I haven’t thought about that in a while or that’s really important."
Their writing sessions happen when they’re inspired, but today’s session happened in the hill country on the edge of Westlake at a local music studio. Today’s songwriting topic was young women objectified by men.
"Hypnotic gazes from across the room," Tori sang, one lyric from a new upcoming song titled, Florecita.
"We always joke about how Tori is like an old soul and is very wise," Tiffany Baltierra, the band’s bassist and oldest sister says. "Even like right now, seeing her lyrics and how deep they are, and how every single line has a meaning to it I'm just like I’m shook!"
The music is no different with their latest song, Cumbia en el Cielo.
"Our song, Cumbia en el Cielo, is kind of really inspired by a lot of the women in our lives that have passed," Tori says, thinking about her family who has passed. "We were just like, ‘oh my gosh these women in our family just really set up the path for us and we wish they were still here to answer questions and give us that motivation.’"
But through their music cultural beliefs they soon realized their loved ones' spirit, always guides them.
"It started off with our great grandmother’s passing. I started having a lot of vivid dreams about her," Tori remembers.
She believes it was her ancestors speaking to her.
"I just had a spark one day while I was in the studio and was like, I feel like they want me to write a song about this, they just keep knocking on my door while I’m sleeping," Tori says.
And as The Tiarra’s set up their sister’s ofrenda in her very first apartment as an adult, they let their music guide them to continue in their path of singing their truth.
"You don’t realize that they’re [ancestors] are always waiting on the other side to tell you something and through music, it’s like a bridge to connect in that way," Tori says.
She describes her father Hector hearing the new song and sharing his experiences of connecting with his loved ones who’ve passed.
"It’s really awesome opening the eyes of our family and I think this song is going to open the eyes of everyone whether or not they’re Mexican or whether or not they put an ofrenda together every year," Tori says.