Xiuhtezcatl Martinez has more on his resume that most people twice his age, and he is not slowing down anytime soon. The indigenous hip-hop artist is not only an environmental activist and youth director of Earth Guardians, but he is also an author of several publications, including, We Rise. The young star uses his connection with the Colorado landscape as his muse to spread love and inspiration to his followers. Martinez was also one of the 21 plaintiffs who opted to sue the federal government and Trump administration for failing to act on climate change.

We got an opportunity to speak with the young revolutionary about what is on his horizon as far as music festivals, book releases and more. Try to see if you can keep up.

303 Magazine: You have certainly accomplished more than the average person your age. What would you say helped you and could help other young activists get involved?

Xiuhtezcatl Martinez: Having a solid base of a family is so significant. Having support from my family to do what I do, to pursue music and travel is so important. Building a strong team and community around me has really helped facilitate me getting a lot of my work done. Having a significant impact at such a young age was definitely not something I could do by myself.

303: One of the goals of Earth Guardians is to reach youth to effect change through art and more. You have written books, but also often use your music to spread this message. What do you find is the most effective way to reach your fans through music?

XM: I feel when you look at entertainment, you look at music. So much of it facilitates escapism for people. If you listen to a lot of music, there is mainstream, some music is streamed millions of times and it isn’t really about anything. It supports a lot of the culture that is disconnecting us from reality and from the world and our community.

So, to somehow capture that same hype and energy, and to portray a story behind the art and create an energy that captivates people has been my focus. The next two albums I am working on are very much more in the vein of a sound that is mainstream. When I tour and play shows and festivals, you can feel how you’re impacting people. Look at Bob Marley and Tupac, they reached people so deeply. More than politicians ever will, more than social activists ever will.

303: One festival you are playing this year is the Northern Nights Music Festival in Northern California this summer. What are you most looking forward to at this event?

XM: This is going to be my first time at Northern Nights. I have kind of tapped into the vibe of EDM and I think that people will be stoked on the message and storytelling behind my music. I have played a lot of festivals, like ARISE out in Colorado, that had a lot of that electronic vibe music, but more awake and with a level of consciousness. I think it is going to be a great opportunity to come to an audience not really knowing what to expect. I am stoked to see a lot of the other artists there as well.

303: How do festivals like Northern Nights compare to festivals you have performed in Colorado? Such as, say, ARISE?

XM: People from Colorado just know me better. That’s my home base. I can go out in the world and when I go to markets where I haven’t played before and people are seeing me for the first time, which I think is a sick opportunity as well. To be able to re-tell the story and come at it fresh. A lot of people, when they have that perception of me as an activist, it blurs their ability to consume the music or they see it with a certain lens or they don’t understand what I’m doing.

303: When you are working on a project, what are your most basic goals with your outreach?

XM: I think effectively representing my reality. My life is in such a process of evolution. I am always learning and growing so for the project to effectively reflect where I am at right then. With music, we get to put on certain masks. So far, every album has been peeling away layers to show the world who I am, where I’m at and what my creative process looks like.

303: What are some goals of upcoming projects you are working on now?

XM: I am working on two albums right now, one is a collaborative project between myself and another artist, True. It is going to be completely different from anything I have put out before. The solo project, I am going to California to record and put it out right away, hopefully by the end of May. I am constantly writing and trying to get into the studio. I need to keep releasing because I have been kind of slow at it.

Music has given me the opportunity to claim my own story. No one is telling it on my behalf. When people hear the music, that will be the most authentic version of me and it’s about to be the hypest thing in the world.

You can find out more about Xiuhtezcatl’s many endeavors here. Northern Nights Music Festival will be July 19-21.

This interview has been condensed and edited. 

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