Electronic Music

Matt Tolfrey Unites with Desert Hearts Label

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Written By: Kainoa Owens

Desert Hearts have been very busy spreading their influence and mantra “House, Techno, & Love” across North America and some spots around the globe. Now, in their 6th rotation around the sun, they have recruited UK powerhouse DJ and producer, Matt Tolfrey!

His newest EP Nothing Like Home on the Desert Hearts label is out NOW!

This EP presents two tracks, ‘Nothing Like Home’ and ‘Fallen’.

Using an eclectic style of futuristic sounds, buzzy bass lines, as well as percussion components, his cultivating sound provokes an ‘it’s about to go down’ dance-craze.

These tasty beats have received huge support from a plethora of established artists such as, Desert Hearts producer Mikey Lion, Josh Butler, Audiojack, and more.

Mikey Lion, in particular, has described the EP as “one of [his] all-time favorite releases” signed to the Desert Hearts label.

Tolfrey never settles using one style, continuously experimenting with techno, house, and deep style beats that make you want to lose yourself in the rhythm.

His success can be traced back to his celebrated 13+ year label ‘Leftroom’, where for the 10th year anniversary, released a decade worth of compiled Leftroom classics, as well as unreleased delicates from collaborating artists including ‘Guti, Kate Simko, Chez Damier, and more.

 

Matt Tolfrey has been proving himself to be one of the more unique DJs in the industry. Renowned by fellow tech-house phenom Seth Troxler, as "the last great British DJ," Tolfrey has continuously delivered delightful sounds and beats for the last 15+ years, proving himself to be a exuberant DJ/Producer.

Having now been welcomed into the Desert Hearts label and family, we can expect nothing less than truly transcendent techno-tunes that tantalize our soul.

Matt Tolfrey and his all-embracing style and sounds mirror the positive love, connection and creativity that permeates around all Desert Hearts festivals and collaborations.

Below you can listen to his latest EP as well as his 'Ten Years of Leftroom Mix', and be sure to experience him in person April 27th - 30th at the Desert Hearts Spring 2018 Festival!

Desert Hearts Spring 2018 Festival

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Written By: Kainoa Owens

Nestled away upon the majestic mountains of the Los Coyotes Indian Reservation outside of east San Diego County, the Desert Hearts Festival returns April 27th-30th to once again delight and tantalize techno-lovers. Now in their 6th gathering since 2012, Desert Hearts has established itself as one of the most popular and inclusive music festivals—boasting a 3000-capacity dreamland wherein festival-goers will have the opportunity to ‘celebrate all that make us human’ through the mediums of art and dance.

Additionally, the festival will host a wide variety of community-based artists and performers to create a ‘truly unique atmosphere embedded with artistic participation and imagination’. Further found at Desert Hearts are various forms of healing included but not limited to Yoga, Workshops, Sound Healing, Crystal Healing, Reiki, Energy Work, Spoken Word and Relax/Recharge zones.

Over the years, Desert Hearts has based themselves around all-encompassing festivals such as Burning Man and Lightning in a Bottle. Their mantra, “House, Techno, & Love…We Are All Desert Hearts” echoes a distinct sense of radical inclusiveness that is vital to their main purpose of ‘spreading as much love and positive vibes as possible’ at each of every one their events.

As a ‘boutique music festival’, they provide a similarly unique experience as these larger music festivals, but with the advantage of being smaller and more intimate in size. The ambiance they create each year for their ever-increasing family of techno-hungry-hippies is centered on the idea to have one stage, one heartbeat.

Photo By: Jacob Avanzato

Photo By: Jacob Avanzato

Desert Heart goers from around the world journey to the festival to immerse themselves in the atmosphere of ubiquitous love, creativity and family that this musical oasis provides. Desert Hearts fanatic, entrepreneur and Reiki healer, Lizeth, recalls her first Desert Hearts experience dancing through the crowd as ‘something magical’ or 'like entering a whole different world entirely’.

The feelings of unity and love permeate throughout all Desert Hearts shows in Southern California and now across North America, so if you’re unable to catch this year’s festival, be sure to check out one of their shows!

This festival is currently sold out; however, we highly recommended checking out these 5 artists on the Desert Hearts 2018 lineup:

Lee Reynolds

Marques Wyatt

Lubelski

Damian Lazarus

Matt Tolfrey

Get Amped up for Halloween with our Minimal Effort, All Hallows Eve Mix

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Written by Robin Nguyen

This Saturday, October 28th, Minimal Effort is once again delivering top-notch talent to the LA dance scene at its 4th annual Halloween installment, All Hallow's Eve, which this year features Claptone, MK (Marc Kinchen), Damian Lazarus, Dusky, All Day I Dream's label head, Lee Burridge, and many others to chill your bones and possess your soul (melodically speaking). We've created a playlist below to give you a taste of the artists' sounds.

This year the event will be held at ENOX events in downtown LA, at a sprawling industrial space that will span one indoor factory dance floor and an outdoor stage to host all your ghoulish delights.

Set times below, so whether you plan to join the Dead Garden or hit the Masquerade, look alive and make sure you have a haunted, hell of a time. Tickets and VIP table packages are available at www.minimaleffort.net 

Check out our special Spotify playlist below:

Desert Daze 2017 – Institute of MentalPhysics

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By Kainoa Owens

Positioned upon 420 acres in the high desert of Joshua Tree, California, the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Institute of Mentalphysics, has become home to the best rock festival this year, Desert Daze.

The institute, in all its glory and awe, rests upon a rare geological confluence of three underground aquifers, and a measurable magnetic field that is said to channel “natural energy” to help desert-goers find clarity. Also known as “a portal to your inner being,” the enlightenment-based philosophical institution was established for those seeking to understand the “physics” of their minds, or to gain a higher sense of consciousness. It’s an apt location for anyone looking to escape the confines of their everyday life, or attempt to join in and connect with one-another through other forms of mentalphysics like yoga and music itself.

Surrounded by captivating architecture, elegant fountains, labyrinths, and beautiful garden paths, Desert Daze has solidified itself as an extraordinary festival experience bringing a sort of kindred vibe similar to the likes of Lightning in a Bottle, and dare I say.., Symbiosis? Nevertheless, the message of Desert Daze is similar with other transformative festivals (as mentioned above), in that they seek to provide a spiritual awakening, reformation, transformation, and inspiration for the individual.

This festival, accompanied with the mysticism of its location and venue, is primed to continuously get bigger, badder, and weirder each year. Phil Pirrone and his altruistic family & crew have done a fantastic job curating the music lineup and festival-goer mentality. Throughout the three-day weekend, the mix of festival goers ranged from many young and old burners, to garage-metal, 90s alternative rock enthusiasts, and everything in between. Needless to say, the lineup this year was STACKED.

In its sixth-installment since its birth in 2012, Desert Daze showcased an inconceivable rock lineup of artists old and new, as well as a wide spectrum of diverse rock-genres. The music this year spanned from raw, electronic punk, garage rock, and punk rock, to crushing power rock, droning sludge metal, minimalist jazz-fusion, and beyond.

The performances this weekend were much to be longed for. More specifically, the sound of a type of psychedelic jazz, Lee Fields & the Expressions, and BadBadNotGood were sensational, while Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile and the Sea Lice headlining Friday night soothed my soul. Saturday was by far the busiest day, with the biggest names, where attendance could have easily been around 5000 desert goers. Performances from a kind of electro-pop Mr. Elevator, which made way for Twin Peaks, JJUUJJUU, and John Cale as some of the daytime shredders. The stoner metal band Sleep, performing their 1992 album Holy Mountain, was something truly special, bringing back the past, reincarnating 80’s and 90’s hard metal rock.

Iggy Pop, the 70-year-old ageless wonder and “Godfather of Punk,” did not slow down, but instead threw down! As a neighboring desert goer looks at me and exclaims in disbelief, “The dude is 2000 years old, from the prehistoric era, and he STILL is absolutely owning it!” Shirt-off, shimmying out on to the stage, while hurling his mic-stand, and executing a famed stage dive, Iggy Pop and his group made everyone else seem above average, and more comparatively made Black Sabbath, one of my favorite bands feel outdated.

Aside from the environs of the institute, the most important takeaway from the weekend was the share of love for music, smiley-vibes in the crowd, the lyrical passion, the crushing rock gifted by the musicians, and of course the nostalgia in us that is mothaafuckkin’ rock & roll.

It is evident that Desert Daze has developed into a forward-thinking rock & roll music festival with a novel, free-spirited vibe, and an inclusiveness that without a doubt makes it the best rock festival this year, and potentially a new giant in festivals every year to come.

CRSSD Festival Fall 2017

Photo Credit: Julian Bajsel - @jbajsel

CRSSD Festival Fall 2017 was another one for books. CRSSD's bi-annual party is now an official staple in San Diego’s electronic scene and it's evident! The festival has matured, the music was selectively curated, and FNGRS CRSSD Promotions has done a great job perfecting the party process. A lot of the kinks have been worked out and the event ran smoothly. 

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CRSSD festival has come into its own. The three main stages deliver and there is always a good vibe between party goers. The mix of festival goers ranges from burners to surfers and everything in between. I’ve attended CRSSD for a the past two years and I’m always amazed at how chill and respectful the crowds are.

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Saturday started off beautifully with warm weather, clear skies and continued through Sunday. My two favorite acts for the weekend were Breakbot and Chromeo. Breakbot was a nice surprise. I hadn't heard of them until now! They nicely mesh together live music with an electronic sound and a throwback 70’s vibe. I danced and grooved my way through their whole set. The crowd was much bigger Sunday and Chromeo smashed the house as usual. I have seen Chromeo three times now and they consistently deliver. Some of the other notable acts for the weekend were RÜFÜS DU SOL, Cut Copy, Damian Lazarus and the Ancient Moons, Richie Hawtin, Emancipator, The Magician, and many more.

 

I feel like CRSSD is something hardcore music heads look forward to. The festival has transformed into a must attend event on the festival circuit and is putting SD on the house and techno map!

Groove Cartel: A new House variation that could take over the dance floors around the world.

Will and Cary photo by:  Groove Cartel Instagram

Will and Cary photo by: Groove Cartel Instagram

By Tom Spiegel

Electronic Music in Mexico started to be really important in the early 2000's. The international live acts started to look at that third world country as an ideal spot to play shows when they all realized the inhabitants had developed a certain level of taste for this genre. Mexicans' natural taste for dance and the party also had something to do with it, and soon a native scene was growing fast. Early Mexican EDM artists' first influences included Sasha, the Chemical Brother, Fatboy Slim and Groove Armada. Not too soon after those artists made it to Mexican ears, psychedelic trance also made its way to cities such as Guadalajara. 

It is precisely in Guadalajara where the main subject of this interview was born. His name is William Gonzalez and he is a true trendsetter when it comes to Mexican electronic music producers. His journey has taken him through some of the hottest dance floors in Mexico; it has taken him high enough to meet the world famous Infected Mushroom, and from that meeting his current project, Groove Cartel was born. 
They've been playing live together for only a few months, but in that time, Will and Cary have managed to establish a message of positive vibrations with a groovy feeling in this new Tech House Variation. They call it Groove House. 

Full disclosure: Will and I know each other personally from my raving days in Guadalajara. My first impression of him was formed at a house party. He's joyful human being who always has a smile to give and a whole lot of talent to share with everyone. He was kind enough to grant Kinofilia this interview without Cary, who was in Los Angeles at the moment. I told Will that I'd be asking about their history and how this Groove Cartel movement came together, so sit back and enjoy this lengthy interview because there is a lot of ground to cover. 

Photo credit:  Menbar Photos

Photo credit: Menbar Photos

Kinofilia: So I guess the best way to start is by asking you who this other guy is, how did you guys meet?

Will: "Cary White is from Lake Tahoe in California. He studied drums in a sort of conservatory. He has played them all his life and while working as a drummer in Tahoe and near Los Angeles, he worked hard making connections. He played for a while with a band called Metro Station who are multi-platinum. They play pop/rock music. After that, he played with Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine in a band he formed, and then he started playing with Infected Mushroom who now live in Los Angeles. They met and hit it off right away. They started touring around the continent and Cary has basically been busy doing that."

Cary White

Cary White

"When the two guys from Infected (Duvdev and Erez) started thinking about expanding, they came to Los Angeles and with the classical music background they have, they started thinking about playing their music in a live format which is the Infected Mushroom Live Band that we all know. It's a very well-organized project that has its basis in pshychedelic trance but they also have a hint of rock. They have a sick show. That's actually how I met them in person."

Kinofilia: How did that come about?

Will: "I met them in Mexico City. The first time I had the chance to contact them in any shape or form, was inside some Beatport charts back in 2011 when that electronic genre was wildly active in the country. On that website, how it works is that artists in general share their top ten picks of the best tracks from that month. One day I noticed they supported a song I produced that is called 'Savage' I think, I obviously flipped out at the idea that Infected Mushroom liked one of my songs. That's the first time I contacted them and a while later I realized they were going to perform at Pepsi Center in Mexico City in 2013."

Kinofilia: And then what happened?

Will: "That's when I decided to write to them. I have always thought that opportunities only come when you go after them, so I wrote them an e-mail. I was like, 'Hello Infected Mushroom, I really appreciate you supporting my song. I just realized you are performing in Mexico and I would like to help you guys out in the only way I see fit which is by playing music for you. I would love to be your opening act. That is if you allow me of course.' They quickly responded, actually they were really nice about it and told me they would be keen on doing that but I couldn't do anything unless they requested it."

"They were actually really cool about it, we arranged my opening act through some very diplomatic messages at first. I traveled to DF and played in their concert. At the end I came over to them and we started talking about music. I thought, "These are two guys who are very polite and diplomatic, with an impressive vision for business." So that's where I met Cary. After a few beers I immediately hit it off with him. We started talking about the industry and future plans. That's when he told me he wanted to start something new."

"Back then I was a little bit shy, I was going through a difficult time in my life. I was coming from one of the most difficult months of my life, actually, some really heavy personal and economic issues. I was in limbo. Actually, a day before the gig I was really close to not going to Mexico City because I didn't even have money for the trip, but a friend of mine at the time let me borrow 1,200 pesos for the trip and that's how I made it. It wasn't my best show, but making that trip changed everything for me, it was a learning process that proved to be beneficial for me because I met Cary and I also met Duvdev and Erez with whom I kept contact  later when they visited Mexico again."

Kinofilia: Ok so, now that we know how you and Cary met, I'd like to know how your whole production process happens. Who does what and how do you divide work?

Will: "We divide chores into several layers. First of all, any creation process needs to have a proper inception. In general, he is the one who sends me most of the ideas for any song. I pretty much always compare his ideas with mine and then proceed to select the best ones to start producing something. Once I have a clear idea of what we are both looking for, I spend time at my studio and start mixing or producing the music. Because we aren't together - he is in Los Angeles and I'm in Guadalajara - I'm the one who has invested more in equipment to do all the mixing and producing."

"It's way easier for me having an objective technical reference about what I'm doing and then sending him the ideas of what I produce in the studio. He has a good sense of rhythm and he has quick thinking. As soon as I send him a one-minute idea for example, he quickly suggests other complementary ideas that help me complete the track with the best possible quality. It's that same back and forth process that lasts between three and four days for a single track. I pretty much always begin with a percussion section, bass, kick and high hats on the first day. I produce that as clean as I possibly can. Then I try to balance it as well as I can. Then on the next day all we do is share our melodic input for each track."

Kinofilia: Sweet, and what genre would you call this style you have? Because I see influence from a lot of different concepts. It has house. It has some progressive trance influence, but it's a whole new different thing on its own. 

Will: "At first we were thinking about doing something like adding a whole new style as a little bit of marketing, as if we were aiming to create a whole new genre, a new sound. But finding a name for that genre was complicated, so we decided to combine the group's name with the genre. We call it Groove House because to us, it's a type of house that isn't tech house. It's not techno either because it's not as cold or raw as techno tends to be. The whole sequence and composition is a bit more free, a bit more bubbly. It's a lot like a new genre that has been blowing up in Asia called Power House but that's a name that doesn't resonate with me that much really."


"Groove House gives it a more fun spin and ring to it, it has more flavor. So this is not completely tech house because sometimes you listen to some really boring tech house, it's music to just hang out and not really dance that much. I think that because of my trance background, we also have some progressive trance elements."

Kinofilia: Groove House sounds perfect! And speaking of influence, which are your main influences in electronic music besides the obvious classic rock and classical music you have from your childhood and adolescence?

Will: "One of my biggest influences is a dude called Didi or Bizarre Contact who is starting to focus a lot more in producing tech house. He is incredible, one of the producers I deeply respect because his work is remarkable. He is a great human being as well. I actually gave classes where I analyzed the harmony of many of his songs. He recently played his first tech house set and talking to him, he told me this is a huge moment, and I think the same way as he does."

Kinofilia: How old is Groove Cartel?

Will: "This project was born between June and July this year. We have been invited to perform in several places so far. The problem is that I haven't been able to travel for many of the invitations we've gotten so far. I've been working 24/7 in Mexico because I'm more interested in opening this act here in Mexico. We look at Groove Cartel, and we are business partners. As such, we both have to keep in mind the best interest in the project. Right now we don't have the range the best in the world have. Being honest electronic music is not very profitable."

"This has a lot to do with self-funding, you have to be prepared to work really hard at first and then start getting results about six months or a year later. Playing our music at Burning Man, for example, has been a great help. That happened thanks to a series of contacts Cary got in LA. He started showing our stuff to some producers over there and we got invited. Unfortunately, Cary told me just a few weeks before the festival, a trip to Burning man involves getting mentally, psychologically, emotionally and economically prepared, and I just wasn't ready for it. You are ten days in the desert. The desert literally wants to kill you. It wants to leave you dry as a corpse as soon as possible. You need to be very well-prepared for that."

Groove Cartel  @ Burning Man

Groove Cartel @ Burning Man

Kinofilia: Yeah! It must be great knowing your music is being heard in one of the best music festivals in the world. And what's next for Groove Cartel?

Will: "Right now we are preparing a showcase in Guadalajara, the first official Groove Cartel event in town. I would like to tell you everything. The event will take place in about a month in a place that has had good artists performing in Guadalajara, but right now I can't give you more details. I want to bring people from all over the country, people who know me and have shared a lot with me throughout the years, mostly people who have been close to me and love their job. I think those connections are the ones that make this whole experience of making music worth your while. The official invitation will come out three weeks prior to the event. We want it to be a private event. We want a fluent dance floor where we can all enjoy the music and dance because this isn't deep house, we need enough space to dance freely."

Kinofilia: Will it be just you guys playing? Or will you have other artists in that event as well?

Will: "We've been looking at other artists who can do the warm-up and some others who can close the event because we want to be democratic with the range of music we want for the event. Everybody likes something different, we want someone playing techno at the end and something more down tempo for the warm-up. We don't just want people to come and enjoy the new project, we also want people to have a great party night where we can offer this new project as a bonus."

Will: "I have a very clear vision of what I want, the professional decisions I make are based on the professional goals I have as a producer. Right now, Groove Cartel is a project in which I'm dedicating my heart and soul because I have a mission to accomplish with it. I want to get to a certain point and when I get there I just want to keep going forward with it. I have some other personal projects and a few more that I'm doing collectively, one of them will be released in October. One of those projects has been in development for a year and a half and by the end of this month we'll get together to polish it and fifteen days later we will release the first video. This is also electronic music with some indy urban influence."

William Gonzalez

William Gonzalez

Kinofilia: We'll be happy to attend your event and cover it in Guadalajara. Just to end this tasty minutes you've given us, could you tell us what your vision for the future is and where do you see yourself in a few years?

Will: "I have a very clear vision of what I want, the professional decisions I make are based on the professional goals I have as a producer. Right now, Groove Cartel is a project in which I'm dedicating my heart and soul because I have a mission to accomplish with it. I want to get to a certain point and when I get there I just want to keep going forward with it. I have some other personal projects and a few more that I'm doing collectively, one of them will be released in October. One of those projects has been in development for a year and a half and by the end of this month we'll get together to polish it and fifteen days later we will release the first video. This is also electronic music with some indy urban influence."

During this 45 minute interview, Will was very gracious about the whole set of questions I had for him. My impression is that people like him, those who stay humble and grounded, are the ones who usually succeed in what they do. He has always been a wildly talented dude who never acts better than anyone in an elitist way, and that's the key to being liked by everyone. He already knows the amazing art he produces. All he cares about is sharing it and that's the reason why I am confident he will succeed alongside Cary. 

Mr. White was unfortunately absent for this interview. When he comes to Mexico in October, we gladly extend an invitation to give us a second interview so that we can share more of his life and background with all our readers. Maybe after Groove Cartel's show in Guadalajara... By that time you will be blowing up and we'll have the first exclusive if you give us the honor! Thanks Will for doing this with us, we hope you like it. Groove Cartel's new release, 'It's Alrite,' is out now and you can listen to it on their official Soundcloud page. It's part of a 12-track repertoire they have ready for us when their first big event comes to Guadalajara. Check it out!

You can also check out all of Groove Cartel's social media outlets and web page here:

Their official website.

Instagram account.

Soundcloud account.

Facebook page.

Their official presentation in Mexico will take place on October the 15th in Guadalajara. 

Moonlight Shapes, the beach Mexican sound of hedonism

Photo credit: Monique Flores

Photo credit: Monique Flores

 

By Tom Spiegel

Photo credit: Aleks OI

Photo credit: Aleks OI

Coming from the Riviera Maya in Playa del Carmen Mexico, two dudes who were born in one of the music meccas of the country thought it would be a good idea to move past the conventional ways of making music and cross over to the electronic music world. I know both of them, but have a tight friendship with Luis Mario Mijangos, who people call 'El Negro' (and no, it's not a racial slur - only a nickname). This guy has always shown a devil may care attitude, worthy of a true rockstar from the 1960's, and I've been fortunate enough to follow his path both in music and in life for quite a while. 


 

Photo credit: Monique Flores

Photo credit: Monique Flores

That easy going vibe translates into his art, and nowhere is this more apparent than in Moonlight Shapes' best hit, “Pieces Ft. Gustavo Lobo.” The atmosphere and samples on that song are just perfect for the hedonistic lifestyle people live in a place such as Playa del Carmen. But the background that Luis has, combined with the technical abilities of music engineer Pablo Candelaria, perfectly portray the roots of a city presumed to have a nearly perfect palate when it comes to music in all its forms. 


 

Photo credit: Monique Flores

Photo credit: Monique Flores

There is no denying that Guadalajara is one of the main music influences Mexico has. A certain aura of creativity roams around every corner of the city, whether it's downtown or in the hippest, most posh areas. The quality will always be a constant there, and our duo from this interview is a great representation of this crossover from the city to the beach life. They have just begun, but already there are talks with a world-class label. They were kind enough to answer some questions for Kinofilia, with an exclusive look at what it is they do, their musical background and their process. Enjoy!

Hey dude, tell me first, how did Moonlight Shapes as a name come to exist? Who is part of this project?

Negro: Hey man, great to be here. Well this project started in Playa del Carmen, Mexico and consists in Pablo Candelaria also known as “Vaktun” by the electronic music scene. He is in charge of sound engineering, producing and the live percussive elements. And  myself Luis Mijangos also known as “Negro” or “The Darkest Boy Alive”, I’m also in charge of production and live instrument performance and recording.

 The name actually came after we had already recorded about three tracks and we got to really trip out listening to the music. We were trying to find something that would reflect the mood and groove of what we were doing. So Moonlight Shapes for me hit right in the spot since our music, in my opinion, is really dark and ethereal. It always takes me to really abstract places in my mind when I’m listening and feeling it, kind of when you go to a really far away place at night and you start noticing all those shapes painted by light in the trees, the water or simply just in the ground. Those sounds can be really different for everybody, so I think of our music as something really similar to this, in which there’s not just one sole interpretation of what we are expressing, but on the contrary.

 

Photo credit: Aleks OI

Photo credit: Aleks OI

Listening to these down tempo-ish kind of beats, what is the style you would give yourselves in the Electronic Music genres? 

 That has actually been a question that we have been trying to figure out ourselves for a long time hahaha, since our tracks are very different from one another. Some can sound very deep and techno oriented and some others are slower and more nostalgic, so I wouldn´t really like to categorize what we do into a specific genre. I think that sort of limits oneself to go only in that direction and sometimes inspiration for us takes very different roads, we try to keep that style that defines us without putting a label on it. Our approach since the beginning was not trying to use the formulas that a lot of electronic music producers are basing their tracks on. We have always aimed to go the old school way and tell stories with our music, not necessarily with vocals but more with the instruments, sounds and sequences we use for it. But I guess you could say it has a lot of influence from deep house, techno and alternative music.

 It’s worth mentioning that our foundations are majorly electronic but using as much live instrument resources as we can for our shows, as well as for when we go in the studio to give it a band-like feeling such as guitar, bass, live vocals, synths and lots of various effects.

Who are your main influences in music and other arts?

Negro: My main influences which always inspired me to want to become a musician were classic American and British rock & blues, mainly because I listened to a lot of that with my parents in the house or in road trips. Good examples are The Rolling Stones, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Pink Floyd, Queen, Eric Clapton and B.B King. I’ve always loved Mick Jagger though; I think I still have one of those super embarrassing videos that moms love to keep, from when I was like 3 years old where I was “dressed as Mick Jagger” with a toothbrush in my hand and I was trying to sing (mumbling/screaming) “Ruby Tuesday”. 

I think the bands that have had more influence on my music style are actually Queens of the Stone Age and Pink Floyd, since I´ve always liked all the weird stuff that they recorded while experimenting and creating atmospheres as well as saturations or dissonances and all sorts of sounds which really make you wonder how the hell they pulled it off.

In the electronic field I like Bob Moses a lot, I think they have something really interesting going on. Seeing them live once made me want to also create something with a live music feel, more human in a way.

How is the Electronic lifestyle in Playa del Carmen? Which styles are the most dominant? 

It has always been my opinion that the music scene in Playa del Carmen has two main elements: electronic music and cover bands. This can be frustrating sometimes because I lived in Guadalajara most of my life. I mean, I love electronic music but I was used to have a lot of options to choose as far as “going to any music show in the city” was concerned. There is a huge amount of different bands and projects performing either local or international over there. From a techno live act to a really acid alternative band, and all in between.

But the scene has grown a lot in the last few years, I could even say that instead of Playa having an electronic lifestyle, the Playa lifestyle IS electronic music. You have the BPM Festival happening every year and other parties from big labels and promotion agencies. It has become a paradise for party people, DJs and producers worldwide. And it’s bringing more and more people every year to see what the fuzz is all about. Although my favorite parties have been mostly in Tulum and other locations along the Riviera Maya.

I would say the most dominant genres are House, Deep House and Techno, with their endless variations. If you walk downtown through the different establishments, you’ll hear a mix of these and the overly commercial music that’s on the radio all the time (which is shit mostly in my opinion).

Photo credit: Aleks OI

Photo credit: Aleks OI

Tell us a little bit about your musical background, your roots. 

Pablo: My roots came mostly from psychedelic trance, electro and techno. That’s how I got interested in electronic music in the first place and what motivated me to study sound engineering at G Martell in Mexico City.

Negro: I always wanted to learn to play something and when I was about 11 years old, my older brother gave me an acoustic guitar as a gift. I was absolutely thrilled, so I used to lock myself up in my room for hours trying to play the song that I liked at the moment. By the time I was doing that, internet was already around so I looked up for theory there to understand how music worked.

Then me and some other friends put on a rock band and I started to get really hooked with the bass, so I decided to learn how to play it and I haven’t left it ever since.

With electronic music I was really interested in psychedelic trance, but then I decided to move to London for a while. There I discovered so much music everywhere, going to places like Fabric, Sosho, The Egg, etc. That made me get a much wider perspective in regards of electronic music, I started looking for more minimal, minimal tech, house and deep house. After that I had the opportunity to work with the Katerholzig crew from Berlin in Tulum, for a project they had going on at Papaya Playa Project. I also met a lot of people from the local and international scene there.

Moonlight Shapes 1

How is your process of creating this music? Walk us through from the beginning. 

Negro: Well… to be honest it always starts with a beer (he giggled). With the heat in playa it’s impossible to do it any other way.

Pablo: What we usually do is start creating a rhythmic base depending on the mood we want to create, after that we try to look for dark harmonies for the atmospheric melodies, since that has become our line of sound right from the beginning.

Negro: And after that I usually plug my guitar and I microphone and I start trying different ideas to start shaping the music, we choose what we like and we record every part properly.

After that well, it’s basically structuring the ideas and getting arrangements done, which we do together to get exactly what we’re aiming for. We have a pretty good musical chemistry and I think that’s reflected in the constant flow of ideas that we have in the studio.

Who are your favorite electronic artists right now?

Pablo: I’m listening to a lot of Kraftwerk, Teenage Mutants, Balcazar and Audictive, who is a good friend of mine and amazing producer. We actually have a track with him that will come to light eventually.

Negro: Right now I’m digging Kettenkarussell, Traumprinz, I’m liking a lot a live act that TheMidnight Perverts have been performing with Andy Martin, with a lot of live hardware and such. I also listen to Smash TV, V I V I D Savvas, Marc Poppcke, Konstantin, and a new live act that some friends of mine are putting together named “Calling Scientists”, from who I’m expecting to release something soon. I’m also really liking the latest MOTEK and Delay Records releases as well.

Tell us an anecdote about your life as a music producer that people will like, maybe life in Playa while making your music and meeting new people...

I guess a funny one could be from when we started working in the beginning, we used to go to the studio at a friend’s house and we used to record from 12 to 15 hours straight every time while drinking “caguamas” (40 oz beers). A lot of times it happened that the next day, when we listened to the material, on the first hours of the session everything sounded really neat on the recordings. But in the last takes my singing was not too sharp and easily could have emulated a wild coyote’s wailing with some sense of intonation. So we would have to record those parts again the next day. Some takes were hilariously terrible.

 How did you get to where you are music wise?

I have played many different things throughout the years, such as Blues, Funk, Classic Rock, Reggae and experimental projects.

The most recent bands I was in were “Pigs On The Wing” with which we performed the full “Dark Side Of The Moon” album live. Also when I moved to Berlin for a while I was playing with “Dear/Us”, an electronic live band that still performs over there by the way, which was an awesome experience since I had the privilege of playing in the now closed “Katerholzig” club, as well as other great places such as “Prince Charles.”

As a DJ I started playing constantly in Tulum, since I lived for quite a while in Playa del Carmen and I’ve had the opportunity to play in spots such as “Papaya Playa Project”, “Casa Jaguar”, “Todos Santos”, “Dragon Turquesa”, “Cannibal Royal” among others.

 What I think has helped me the most in developing as a musician is that I have always loved playing with other people, no matter what their style or their sound is. I have played with alternative rock bands, metal bands, reggae bands, experimental electronic bands, etc. And I always learn something from every person that I have ever played with. I love jamming with different people so that I’m able to try different things and get ideas for my personal projects.

You can check out Moonlight Shapes' music on the Soundcloud or the Facebook pages.