Pajaritos--aka DJs Riobamba and Malagón, aka Sara Skolnick and Ernestro Morales--are making their way through the sights and sounds of Mexico City on tour. We’ve been keeping tabs on their travels, but Pajaritos have been bringing their tour diary to another level with exclusive interviews, audio clips and photos throughout their stay.
Interviews with Mexican Institute of Sound and Frikstailers
As all-too-temporary participants in Mexico City’s music scene, we wanted to hear from musicians that have spent considerable time investing their energies in local culture and collaborations. We met with long-time resident Camilo Lara, also known as Mexican Institute of Sound, and recent transplants Lisandro Sona and Rafa Caivano, together known as Frikstailers.
We met Camilo last summer as openers for his set at the ICA’s Harbor Sounds series. After catching up over torta de trufas at Belmondo, we headed to his home studio a few blocks away for an interview. Camilo spoke to us a bit about his new album, Politico, and the impetus for assuming a stronger political line in the midst of Mexico’s march toward presidential elections on July 1st.
Camilo Lara in his studio in Roma. Photo by Sara Skolnick (Pajaritos).
A few months ago, he woke up to the sound of explosions from a terrorist act nearby his apartment. Affected, he began creating songs that “spoke of destruction, dynamite, theft … It’s a reflection of the ocupas in Spain, the elections in Mexico; many things that are happening at the same time that begin to gradually make your life more politicized.”
The day before our interview, he’d hosted Camila Vallejo and other leaders of the #YoSoy132 movement as they prepared for that day’s La Luz de la Verdad demonstration. The march moved on to the nearby Televisa network (the largest television station in Mexico) for a large-scale protest demanding media democratization and vastly improved access to information so that a better-informed public can participate in the elections. “These revolutions are worth supporting,” he tells us.
“I recently filmed a video with Jonas Cuarón, a film director, who made the documentary The Shock Doctrine based on the book by Naomi Klein. We made a video in support of #YoSoy132 to spread the word about what’s happening right now in Mexico and to encourage everyone to continue working together to make a change.”
“México” by Mexican Institute of Sound
His production aesthetic derives from that of cumbia 45s, psychedelic, garage and surf sensibilities, giving him jumping points for his own productions, using his collection of keyboards, samples, synthesizers and toys. “Whatever the means … what’s important is the idea. Sometimes it works better as a sample sample, other times recorded from scratch. Music isn’t rigid; it can end up as more of a collage so long as you don’t discriminate.”
Camilo gives Pajaritos a mini tour of his studio.
Camilo’s varied influences reflect what he deems as Mexico City’s clash of cultures. “I’m inspired a great deal by what we call the bastardization and localization of American and foreign influence as it interacts with Mexican music; that you can change things around as you’d like and take it back to local culture.”
“It’s possible to have one foot in locally and also to have one in the larger world at the same time, working from sounds that aren’t necessarily Mexican.”
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Frikstailers. Photo by Sara Skolnick (Pajaritos)
Lisandro Sona and Rafa Caivano are together known as Frikstailers of Buenos Aires’ ZZK Records. Recent transplants from Córdoba, they’re also the creators of Latin America’s global bass tastemaker Cassette Blog, in collaboration with their “spiritual guru” Andrés Oddone. Andrés proposed that the group take a break from moving between unfixed locations, to instead plant themselves in Mexico City, where they could participate in the metropolis’ convergence of cultures that constantly draws new residents from all parts of Latin America. Frikstailers response was “Qué demonios, vamos!” or “What the hell, let’s go!”
Lisandro and Rafa introduce their breed of extraterrestrial tropical music.
Not letting any time pass while acclimating to their new city, Frikstailers have already embarked on collaborations with DJ Mejia of Fiesta Pirata and rapper Niña Dioz of Monterrey, also recently releasing remixes for the likes of Maga Bo and Modeselektor. All the while, they draw on everyday interactions for inspiration. Says Rafa, “Our preferred means for interaction isn’t always music. We place a lot of importance on the human side of the process also; the primary factor in interactions is chemistry, in both simple and transcendent things at the same time.”
Frikstailers have dedicated much of the last year to producing their new album for ZZK Records due out later this year, along with an animated video by Buenos Aires’ Flamboyant Paradise studio, who created the video for Frikstailer’s remix of Major Lazer’s Hold the Line. For the new release, they’ve experimented with tropical sounds they’ve yet to traverse such as murga, samba, and Argentine rock, hybridizing unlikely combinations to further develop their own breed of extraterrestrial electronic sounds.
“Hold the Line” by Major Lazer, Frikstailers remix (Directed by Flamboyant Paradise)
Having witnessed and participating in the revitalization of tropical music, they’re proud that “a great deal of people have a new respect and have begun to understand cumbia’s unique identity in Latin America … that it’s special thing to have something like cumbia villera drawn specifically from Argentina.” They draw region-specific comparisons to Mexico’s fervor for cumbia sonidera, with its dub-heavy, sweet sounds, peppered with delays and dedications, which is much closer to reggae than to cumbia villera’s thrash and electronic production lineage.
Frikstailers comment on the value of creating fixtures like ZZK’s weekly parties as a “laboratory” for producers and audiences.
Rafa adds, “It’ll take time to build a network like what we had in Córdoba, with 15 or more people working together. It takes that much of a force to produce a change in consciousness; a belief that things can exist in a more open way for nightlife.
In Mexico City, I’d love to see the music scene move toward producers not only making music, but also having spaces to circulate it fluidly … to having a scene where all of the components come together in a unified way.
It’s about building trust in people that this framework works, and that it’ll continue to surprise them.”