Mexico

Alpha+: Techno análogo y saltarín de Guadalajara para el mundo

Photo credit:  Tino Design Photoflash

Por Pavel Ibarra Meda

Cuando yo llegué desde Tijuana a Guadalajara para pretender estudiar algo o hacer algo de mi vida, llegué con toda la viada que trae un chamaco de 19 años que quiere comerse el mundo y tirar toda la fiesta que le fuera posible. Mi fresca cabecita apenas había conocido el concepto de la música electrónica y realmente aún no sabía distinguir entre un género y otro, solo la disfrutaba. Recuerdo vagamente que antes de entrar en este mundo y antes de corromper mi cabeza con substancias psicoactivas, mi primer viaje experimental con esta expresión musical fue a bordo de un taxi escuchando todo el Involver de Sasha bajo el calor abrazador de la frontera. 

Pero al viajar a Guadalajara no tenía ni puta idea de lo que me esperaba, una ciudad llena de diferentes sabores y sensaciones dentro del mundo de la música electrónica, que comparada con Tijuana era un auténtico dragón de mil cabezas. Fue donde conocí los varios géneros y variaciones desde todos los subgéneros del trance, los subgéneros del house, el electro y el techno. De todos hay variaciones por las cuales caí perdidamente hipnotizado y hasta el día de hoy sigo enganchado de su belleza e ingenio. A mi siempre me ha gustado un track que tenga melodías bien estilizadas, pero que tenga una atmósfera que te provoque mover el bote, o por lo menos ese típico movimiento de cabeza cuando disfrutas un buen "eargasm". 

 

Fue en la ciudad de Guadalajara donde conocí al buen Migue, una de las personas con el intelecto más desarrollado que logré conocer ahí, dando apenas sus primeros pasos del camino que lo trajo a presentarse por primera vez en el mundialmente famoso Boiler Room de la ciudad de Guadalajara, organizado por el siempre confiable Bar Américas, meca de la música electrónica en México. En los últimos tiempos de la mano del señor Ramón Gonzalez como el principal promotor, se han dado a la tarea de voltear a ver los talentos locales más llamativos y les están dando salida al público poco a poco. Migue es uno de los primeros en darse a conocer con su Live Act llamado Alpha+.

Pero tenía años que no veía a Miguel, con él siempre tuve conversaciones ricas en cultura y noté que ya tenía ese gusanito productor que lo llevó a poner a brincar a todos los presentes con su tecno análogo saltarín. Un ritmo que me hizo recordar mucho viejo videos de fiestas en Detroit que llegué a ver en youtube, donde tocaban DJ's con discos de vinyl. 

Inmediatamente después de ver el stream en vivo volví a ponerle play al video de lo tanto que me gustó, estaba gratamente emocionado por Miguel por el nivel que ha alcanzado, pero para nada sorprendido. Él es capaz de hacer esto y seguir evolucionando, quién sabe hasta donde llegue pero no creo que tenga límite. Lo contacté para que nos diera la oportunidad de entrevistarlo para Kinofilia y con gusto aceptó, desde acá le mandamos un abrazo y le deseamos todo el éxito que seguramente tendrá. Disfruten de esta entrevista para que lo conozcan un poco más como artista. 

Photo credit:  Tino Design Photoflash

1.- ¡Qué onda carnal! No te pude decir muy bien lo que pienso de tu live en Boiler Room pero puedo decirte que no soy el único al que le gustó, solo me gustaría saber algunas cosas al respecto. La primer y más lógica creo yo, es saber. ¿Entre qué estilo o sub-géneros de la música electrónica consideras que está tu estilo?

R.- Raw Techno, (techno crudo con grabaciones o instrumentos análogos que "ensucien" o exciten la señal) y variantes del House.

2.- Me gustaría saber cuál es la diferencia entre los que hacen su live solo poniéndole play a su lap top y lo que tú hiciste ahí, porque lo tuyo fue totalmente distinto a lo que está acostumbrada la gente que te vio. Siento que no todos logran comprender lo que lograste ahí. ¿Cómo lo explicarías?

R.- El sistema de mi live act se basa en cadenas MIDI, donde se escoge un dispositivo maestro (en este caso un secuenciador análogo Electribe ESX1) que manda tanto la información de notas, como información de tiempo (bpm) a los demás instrumentos o sintetizadores por medio del lenguaje MIDI. Todos los demás aparatos están conectados vía MIDI al dispositivo "maestro" y quedan "esclavizados" al mismo.

Photo credit:  Nuevecinco

Photo credit: Nuevecinco

La diferencia entre un live act de laptop, es que están centrados y ejecutados desde un DAW (Digital Audio Workstation como Cubase, Logic, Ableton, etc.) y es la computadora quien realiza todas las secuencias y en muchos casos los mismos sonidos que integran un track por medio de instrumentos virtuales (VSTi's). Pocos actos en vivo integran instrumentos físicos en la interpretación, pues la comodidad de tener todo un estudio dentro de una laptop ha facilitado que se pueda prescindir de hardware y de sintetizadores físicos.

En mi live, yo voy haciendo las secuencias, mezclando cada uno de las pistas que integran un track mandando información de notas a los sintetizadores, además de contar con una caja de ritmos para las baterías. Para poder presentar mi acto necesito llevarme un sampler, un secuenciador, una caja de ritmos y al menos un sintetizador.

No creo que usar hardware o software defina la calidad de tu música, cualquier camino que te ayude a llegar al sonido que buscas es lo que importa. Oh! y lo más importante! Muchos cables MIDI y un MIDI splitter jajaja.

3.- ¿Cuáles son tus influencias más fuertes en música?

R.- Los Chemical Brothers, Legowelt, Jeff Mills y Kink entre otros. Sellos favoritos: Lobster Theremin, Unknown to the Unknown, 1080p, L.I.E.S., Opal Tapes, etc.

4.- Platícanos un poco tu opinión sobre la escena local y cómo crees que ha evolucionado mientras has estado presente. 

R.- La escena local creo que apenas está volteando a ver a todas las grandes propuestas que están surgiendo de la escena under, hay productores, sellos y netlabels por todo el país haciendo cosas de muchísima calidad y muy interesantes, gente como Siete Catorce, Fonobisa, Arp y AAAA (por mencionar algunos). Ellos tienen varios años haciendo música y puliendo su sonido, cosolidando propuestas excelentes y muy apreciadas en la escena internacional, el mexicano empieza en creer en el talento local,  sin embargo sigue habiendo mucho malinchismo y "cangrejismo" en la escena. Como bien dicen, "nadie es profeta en su tierra". La gente prefiere pagar un cover muy alto por ir a escuchar las mismas propuestas viejas y los promotores le apuestan por traer artistas ya conocidos que le aseguren ganar dinero, es decir ni el asistente ni el promotor se arriesgan en apoyar talento local. 

Por hablar de un caso, el sello mexicano NAAFI que tras varios años de carrera está recibiendo la proyección mundial que merece (EU, Japon, Chile, Argentina, etc.) y en México la gente empieza a reconocerlos también. Creo que la época en la que los Dj's y productores buscaban sonar como artistas del viejo mundo o sonar como tal artista norteamericano, está muriendo. Una escena mexicana donde no se busca imitar sino desarrollar una identidad propia o un sonido propio está naciendo. Creo que el modelo del DJ-productor rockstar está bastante gastado, hace falta que los principales bares y clubes del país tengan más apertura e incluyan otros géneros dentro de sus recintos y alejarse un poco de la fórmula (a mi parecer obsoleta) del Tech House y el EDM. 

5.- Sobre la escena internacional. ¿Qué cosas crees que han cambiado o evolucionado?

R.- Creo que la tecnología, las nuevas plataformas y las redes sociales han logrado convertir al usuario o al melómano promedio, en un activo creador de contenidos (prosumidor), por lo que ahora es más fácil poder crear tu propia música y poder posicionarla y comunicarla a través del internet.

6.- ¿Dónde te ves de aquí a 10 años dentro de la escena?

R.- Me veo teniendo lanzamientos en sellos nacionales e internacionales, así como en los sellos del subsuelo que admiro y que inspiran mi sonido.

7.- ¿De dónde viene el nombre Alpha+?

R.- Proviene del libro "Brave New World" de Aldous Huxley.

Muchas gracias por este espacio de tiempo que te has dado para atendernos, tienes puntos muy interesantes en los que has logrado articular una crítica importante que seguro llegará a los nervios de muchos que se creen la crema y la nata de la música electrónica en México. Por suerte en Guadalajara hay gente interesada y comprometida con exponer a los talentos emergentes, me dio mucho gusto haberte visto en ese live stream de Boiler Room. Dejaré tus links para que la gente te escuche y te conozca mejor, hasta pronto y buena suerte. 

Soundcloud de Alpha+

Facebook de Alpha+

Aquí el live completo de Alpha+ en el Boiler Room

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.