Sol Magistrum Equitum Dixit

 Shadowfax from the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

Shadowfax from the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

By Sol Pérez-Pelayo

One: The dream

Two nights ago I had a dream that would mark all of my week with causalities and consequences that made me wonder about the real meaning or perhaps foreshadowing of it. I was in a field where it smelled of rosemary, thyme, and cassias; across my feet I saw bushes and marigolds that enchanted my eyes. The air was jam-packed with a delicious pressure and it was so hot I was sweating. Mulberry trees were all around where I was and as my hand reached to caress the plants that were beneath my feet, I heard galloping, it was very fast and it came in increasing paces each time. I could hear it getting near. There was no one around me, but the dashing was getting closer every time, and it started to distress me as the strides began matching the beating of my own heart. The pounding was making my chest ache with pain and I had to kneel down to relieve it. I heard a very loud neigh and as I turned to see, my eyes were hurt for one second, I lifted my right arm to keep the sun from blinding me and there he was. The most splendid and whitest horse and I have ever seen. I thought it was Gandalf the wizard’s legendary white horse Shadowfax. He was whiter than an exposed bone in a fracture, so white it seemed to be the source of some cosmic spell, giving out light of it’s own. But this whiteness didn’t hurt me like the sun because I could see it. Feeling his tremendous existence in the same perimeter as I was made me faint. It has to be also the biggest horse I had lay eyes on; it stood on its two hind legs and had a bewildered look in it´s astonishing brown eyes. As I was staring into this striking glare, the Egyptian obelisk of the Vatican emerged behind it. He neighed again one more time making an earsplitting sound and our gaze met and then I woke up.

I woke up sweaty, dumbfounded and feeling a bit quaint. My heart was pulverizing my chest and I sat in the bed. I could still feel the roman garden’s fragrances in my nose and the thought of the horse entranced me. I have a very peculiar and distinctive relationship with horses or at least the idea of them. I really wish to have one of my own someday so we can be friends and love him dearly. They are certainly one of the animals that I love and admire the most but they also have a part of my heart that is dark and I rarely talk about. Why was that horse in my dream? Was there a horse near me that needed help? The horse in the dream wasn’t hurt but he was very upset. The exceptional connection that I feel with horses comes from this maybe unfounded but very heartfelt idea that I can communicate with them. They have always created the impression of animals who are comprehensive and that suffer beyond means. I have this incredible weird trauma with animals being hurt. I hate walking around downtown Guadalajara and see how people can still ride those “calandrias.” I can’t even begin to express my disgust to spectacles were animals such as horses are hurt and mistreated for idiotic and cruel entertainment.

Two: The memoir

The next day I had a vivid memory from my past. Somebody else in literature had a dream about a horse that was a life changing experience. Sometime around my 15 years of age, I came across one of the most influential books of my formation as a human being: Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. This book’s passages have remained in my head for a very longtime now. There is one extract that until today I have not been able to re visit and that continues to hunt my memories. Raskolnikov, the main character, had a series of dreams that foreshadowed events in his life. In one of these dreams he is a little boy and he witnesses a grisly scene of animal cruelty. It was a dark grey day and he was with his father. Outside a tavern stood a carriage with a poor old mare that couldn’t even pull it anymore. It’s driver, a cruel man kept putting people into the carriage, striking the mare harder each time, and forcing her to pull the heavy carriage. Even writing about this now is hard, my skin is full of goose bumps and believe me, its difficult, I’m getting a knot in my stomach just now. I’ll make this short because otherwise I’ll cry and never finish writing this phantasmagoria of an article I want to share with you all. The man continues to hit the mare, some people encourage him and even cheer when the mare cries and bleeds, others cry and are very vexed and sick with worry by this wretched scene. But nobody lifts a finger and the deranged chauffeur blows the mare, even in the eyes to death. This horrific scene will forever hold a place with pain in my heart. Even though it was just a dream in a book, these are things that happen every single day everywhere in the world. Evil continues to exist because the so-called “good” people do nothing about it.

 Image by  Katerina Rss

Image by Katerina Rss

Horses are superb creatures; they have certainly given all to humans asking nothing in return, like most animals have. Horses carry and not pun intended here, strong symbolism in almost every culture in the world. Horses are intelligent individuals that have made contact and communication with human beings. They are able to learn commands and tasks, consistency is key to teach a horse simple tricks and routine is also very helpful for the training of these animals. Horses also possess a very particular and interesting ability; they can associate items or voice tones to situations that often got them upset.  There were no horses in Mexico when the conquistadors came. An ancient woman of the history of Mexico called Malinche or Mallnalli who was a translator, a slave and former wife of conquistador Cortez, had an intimate connection to horses.  Malinalli felt that the horse’s eyes were mirrors that reflected everything one felt. In other words, they were mirrors to the soul.

 Another juncture between that horse of my dream and another horse came across my mind that day. I wrote my thesis for my bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and Social Sciences about Nietzsche’s works and how his personal life had a direct impact on them. On Nietzsche’s decline there is particular chapter that seemed to have made a deep mark in me, the reason as you will read now will be obvious:

It was January the 3rd 1889, in a cold morning in Turin where Nietzsche had gone off in the hopes of writing a new work that reflected his thoughts and new great ideas. The German philosopher came out his door in the Via Carlo Alberto. Across from his sidewalk something called his attention, a driver of two-wheeled horse-drawn carriage was complaining out loud about his horse, there present. The animal refused to pull the carriage or even move, the driver continues to scream and instigating the animal. The chauffer finally looses his patience and beings to beat the animal with a whip. Nietzsche appalled and horrified by this ran straight towards the horse and threw his arms around it and started sobbing like a little child. Many said he asked the horse for forgiveness on behalf of all humanity, pardon for all the cruelty all animals have suffered. Something must have hit Nietzsche’s insides for good because after this he was mute for two whole days, except for his alleged last words ever spoken'Mutter, ich bin dumm!' ('Mother, I am stupid!' in German), after this he lived 10 years without ever muttering another word.

The connection between the abdominal incident in Crime and Punishment and Nietzsche’s culminating moment, retiring from existence and presence in this world is remarkable. I’ll be totally honest here, when I made this association was one of the most consumable and rewarding moments that gave me a gratifying sentiment in my heart.  For years I couldn’t see or be near a horse and not feel awful, simulating their pain. Even their smell would make me feel uneasy, even though I have always loved them as creatures of innocence and beauty.  As Miguel de Cervantes says “It is prerogative of beauty that it should always be respected”. One time, and I recall after more than 14 years (at the time) of experience modeling, acting and photo shooting in many eerie and less than confortable situations; I came across one that was conspicuously touchy for me.

 

Three: The challenge, a blast from the past

A band from Guadalajara called Sutra (check them out they are awesome) hired me to be on the cover of their album and to appear on their music video as well. Everything was stupendous; the art was very lugubrious and dismal, notions and aesthetics that I find very appealing. The idea was of the pilgrimage of two urban witches walking blindfolded around town, carrying a horse’s corpse. Everything went well until I heard horse head and horse body, dismembering of it etc. My blood chilled. I could feel my hands getting sweaty and cold and I almost chickened out, the idea of holding a dead horse in my hands was way beyond anything I could handle. I have pretty much done very weird and gory things I won’t talk about now, but this reached something that gave electroshocks to my nervous system. Before I could freak out and make a complete fool out of myself I saw the “dead horse” was a model, it was made out of foam and even though it looked completely realistic it was lifeless, but not like life had been taken from it, but in a way that it meant it had never been alive before. I stared at its eyes, not into them. They were so real but I couldn’t feel anything. These eyes didn’t reflect my soul, these eyes were just marbles. We took all day filming this video in one the most iconic and oldest neighborhoods in Guadalajara.

There were times where I honestly felt the horse was going to come alive and start moving, I can almost say I saw it move, it was one of the most uncomfortable and challenging jobs I’ve ever done, not because I was walking around blindfolded or in a tight dress in front of people, but because I really thought this horse was going to move in any minute. I loved doing this and I’m a fan of the band but this was absolutely horrifying and hard for me. Even that scene in the Godfather with the horse’s head has got to be one of the most disturbing film scenes for me.

Four: the present

The morning after as I was getting ready for my early run, I couldn’t stop hearing this roman horse in my head and every time I blinked I saw him and his penetrating eyes glaring back at me. As a fan of metal music I make lists on my Spotify for when I do certain activities, I can almost do pretty much everything to Death or Black metal, but I had found a new taste in folk metal when I ran. There is a function called “artist radio” this makes a “station” based on a artist that you play and it plays songs that are similar or what Spotify thinks you are going to enjoy. I was around my 7th kilometer feeling unusually exhausted, when a song I had never heard before came up and I fell in love. The first thing I heard was a ceremonial group of trumpets announcing something, something of importance, a coronation perhaps. The song was called “I, Caligvla”. The vocals, guttural and strong, were very familiar but the music wasn’t. I turned over my phone and saw one of the most astounding album covers I had seen in a long time. This band is called EX DEO, it’s the side-project of Kataklysm's Maurizio Iacono. Kataklysm is one of my all time favorite bands, no wonder I recognized his voice and felt awful because I didn’t know this was his side project. I felt even more awful when I realized all his songs have to do with the ancient Roman Empire and I had never heard them before. Caligula is my favorite emperor; ever since I read Albert Camus’ play I have been overly obsessed with Caligula and his empire.

This newly found discovery of “Roman metal” made my day. The band was amazing, he had all the themes of the Roman Empire engraved in their songs and albums, however, their songs were still in English, I would be thrilled if they were all in Latin but I guess that’s a challenge. During the week I continued my investigation of Roman Metal, I found a band from Lazio called ADE, their songs are mostly in Latin and I have found both of the bands a ball to listen to, I couldn’t be happier. But the videos that I saw of the band (of EX DEO) were not that cool, the production was certainly very good but maybe its my high expectations due to a “Caligula” 1980 American- Italian film.  This film was produced by famous men’s magazine Penthouse. The intention was to make an explicit erotic, close to pornographic film with good dialogues great actors and real sex on tape portraying the sexual deviants and excesses that have characterized and stained Caligula’s reign.

Five: The emperor and the golden equus

Caligula, whose real name was Gaius Julius Caesar Germanicus (Caligula, means "little (soldier's) boot" in Latin), was a very controversial Roman emperor; he was a ruler of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Despite Caligula's popularity with the people, the Senate expressed disparagement for what seemed to be airy eccentricities. Caligula by most history books and even the film production mentioned above is remembered as a degenerate and mad emperor who only used his power to oppress. He entered the senate and his reign with great widespread acceptance; he arrived in Rome like a true rock star. The crowd in the streets loved him and all acclaimed him, this specially because his real father was Germanicus and not the former “mad” emperor Tiberius (suffering advanced syphilis). His first year was great for the Roman Empire, he made treason papers invaluable and gave his army important benefits. Caligula pardoned exiled politicians and helped those whose life had been affected by exuberant taxes. He punished sexual offenders and had the people happy and entertained with gladiator spectacles. He built several aqueducts and made a public reform. However, nearly after this, his health declined and his attitude changed and turned in to a complete monster by engaging in activities that harmed others sexually, he also began executing people without leaving any trails, even within his own family and thus, this lead to his murder. He was emperor for about four years; he was only 28 when he was assassinated.


 

That same day after the run and lunch and all that, one of my good friends called me up to tell me she had gone to one of the most ridiculous places in our city: a nightclub. A popular place for some known to be elitist, full in my opinion with phonies that are mostly gold diggers and low self esteem beings who pretend to find love or snort coke in the bathrooms. I asked her what she was doing there; she said she was just making company for a friend. She said everyone apparently found so odd that they let her in with sneakers and that she didn’t know anyone. They thought she was a foreigner they even pretended to introduce Tequila to her. She couldn’t hear over the loud annoying music when they asked her if she had tasted it, she said no, thinking that they had asked her if she had tasted this particular brand. Somehow this tequila, worth $500 pesos per shot (no joke) was what made these people feel so above everyone else. I asked her what’s in the shot? Gold? We both laughed but to be really honest with you, I felt a little tingle in my spine with fear, really? Are people actually buying this opulence? In the nervous laughter I remembered a really cool, odd and funny fact about Caligula, His HORSE; Incitatus. 

Incitatus was the single most beloved living thing that belonged to the emperor. I read about all the oddities Caligula had for his horse. According to Suetonius a Roman historian that lived around c. 69 – after 122 AD Caligula adored his horse from birth, he had his stable made from white marble, his manger was made from ivory and he often wore purple blankets. Purple was the most expensive of tints back then and a color set apart only for royalty. He wore necklaces with precious jewels and even ate oats mixed with gold flakes (yes! Like those people in the nightclub with the tequila shots!)  He had several servants designated just for his needs, and he was a racehorse who only once lost a single race ever, the unfortunate jockey was executed. How could it be Incitatus’ fault? On the nights previous his race, absolute silence was ordered, whoever disturbed Incitatus’ sleep was killed. Caligula wanted to name him a consul in the senate and this outraged the other senators. This story has two sides like most stories. It is said for starters, that Caligula’s madness[1] had gone way overboard and his exacerbated love for his horse as well; and two, he wanted to make fun of the senators by appointing a horse with no logos and reason so it could do their job if it could live like them.

But one thing is for sure: Incitatus was the horse of my dream. Today is a full moon and I hope he gallops through my dreams to foretell me another even and screaming “cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war”.

Note: HAVOC!  Was a military signal the English used during in the Middle Age to direct soldier into attack, rapine and pandemonium. This phrase is taken from the Shakespearean from the play “Julius Caesar” (III,i 273) “Julius Caesar” after his murder to foreshadow a catastrophe.

Jim Carrey teaches us a perfect way to fight depression

 All pictures were grabbed from Jim Carrey's official Twitter page.

All pictures were grabbed from Jim Carrey's official Twitter page.

By Tom Spiegel

The world famous comedian took some time to give us a much-needed life lesson for today's society in which he shows us the ideal path to combat depression: painting.

As a comedy nut that I've always been and also a bit of a closeted psycho therapist, it's inevitable for me to analyze the most talented comics in history, or at the very least the ones who I can remember. The furthest I've gone in my research is Jonathan Winters or Don Rickles, both considered icons of the craft. In all the passion I've found throughout my never ending videos and texts, I have found a pattern that is more familiar with comedians who are more involved in the Hollywood world and worry a bit more about succeeding than actually enjoying the thrill of making people laugh. What I managed to discover in my investigation process, is that the more talented the comedian is, the more he wants to cover other artistic areas in entertainment. 

We have some incredibly quick-thinking improvisational comics, who I consider to be at the very top of the creative realm. Fair examples of this comic are the ones we will discuss in this article. Jim Carrey, Richard Pryor, TJ Miller, Gregg Geraldo, and more importantly Robin Williams; these are the prime examples of creative comic minds who sometimes cross a very thin and dangerous line that can suck their souls and sometimes even spark mental illness they didn't have before. Jim Carrey has been well-known as a diagnosed bipolar comic who has always fought with depression; he has never shied away from the burdens he has to bear every single day of his life. Being that talented has a high price, for some comics being this creative has even cost them their lives. 

There is also the more prepared and sharpened comedian who wasn't good when he started but has improved over the years to levels that only the very best can aspire. In this group of comics, you can easily find people like Ricky Gervais, Louis C.K., Jerry Seinfeld, and Chris Rock talking about their rise to stardom and how hard they worked over the years. These guys need at least a year to write a full hour of material and another year to test it in comedy clubs before they are confident they have a good show, but the misfits like Carrey and Williams were born with the comedy spark since they were little. Both of them were lonely little boys who started developing characters at an early age without realizing they also developed mantel illness; Robin Williams developed dementia for example. 

August the 11th marks three years since Robin Williams sadly passed away after committing suicide, the icon was found hanging in a bedroom door. People already knew how depressed he was since he was young, substance abuse at an early age certainly didn't help in latter years because his illness only grew stronger. But then again, the fact that he needed so many drugs to feel better also means that even sober he didn't feel okay. Fortunately for him, Robin's family helped him find inner peace in the city of San Francisco, and we witnessed some of the most impressive work of his career during his sober years. But as all unhinged creative minds, Robin required something to keep him occupied and distracted from his always present depression. Going on bicycle rides every day seemed to help out a lot, but divorcing his wife and separating from his family was a huge blow for him. 

I remember shedding many tears when I found out about his passing; it's almost as if I had lost one of my dearest friends because I had been following his career for decades. That's when it hit me; I remembered how severe Jim Carrey's depression had been for the past few years. Personal problems had him in constant search of tranquillity and enlightenment, a sudden alarming feeling came over me, and I started researching the latest acting he's done or comedy he's performed. I quickly realized that Jim Carrey hadn't done much in the last decade, he is another one of those artists who feel suffocated by the shallow and empty Hollywood life. Then I stumbled upon a nifty little show made for comedians by a legendary comedian called "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee", my first reaction was searching for Jim Carrey's episode, and there it was. 

This was a few years back, the reason I bring this up is that it soothes me to know that fewer people are as alarmed as I was then after knowing that Jim is alive and well. In that episode with Jerry, he spoke about how much he is enjoying life through painting, the perfect therapy for a person who suffers depression the way he does. Then a few days ago, Jim uploaded a documentary about his experience with painting called "I Needed Color." Watching it reminded me of Robin Williams so much, I felt sad because I knew he wasn't able to find the proper therapy in time like Jim did. But I also felt happy because I saw hope in Carrey's words during the documentary, he knows he is the type of creative mind that needs to feel less involved in the world's problems because they hurt him on a fundamental level. 

Sadly, not all comedians have the fortitude or carelessness to find comedy in tragedy. People like Jim Carrey are compassionate souls who do their comedy with no intention to enrage anyone, other comedians don't care about that, and that's okay. Perhaps the British comics have a more relaxed way of approaching their craft, people like Jimmy Carr, Ricky Gervais, and Craig Ferguson don't take themselves that seriously. Maybe that's where their success is hidden in plain sight, not giving a fuck every once in a while and just letting the comedy flow can also be the answer sometimes. I sure do hope Jim Carrey comes back to act in great comedy movies like in the past, let's hope his new hobby fuels him with motivation, and we get a new timeless character to imitate until the world comes to an end. 

Keep that momentum going Jim, please don't make me miss you and cry for you as Robin did.

My first ever experience at Comic-Con International

By Tom Spiegel

Even if I have always been an avid movie and comic book fan since I have a memory, I had never really been graced with the opportunity to experience the San Diego Comic-Con due to various reasons. But this year was going to be different; my goal was to at least make it to the outskirts of the convention center and take loads of pictures of sweaties in full-blown cosplays. But what I got was a little bit better, just a tad shy of the full experience. While visiting my favorite video game shop, I encountered a nice lady employee who told me about a chance to work at the Con for a few days, suddenly getting paid to attend the event seemed like an excellent idea. The catch was that I would work as a security guard on the main entrance floor, without getting to go down to the exhibit hall. This was my first chance to actually get to say that I attended Comic-Con, so finally, I decided to go through with the experience. 

Verdict

I gotta say, apart from the excruciating pain my feet went through during all four days of the Con, the experience was actually pretty amazing. I got to interact with thousands of sweaty fans whose faces told the story of a place like no other, a convergence that congregates hundreds of thousands of fans who love movies, comic books, and pop culture, who are mostly quite respectful for one and other. My post was at one of the main entrances in the registration area; I had to deal with people who wanted to go out of the building for various reasons and needed to be re-directed by yours truly in order to get to the other side. For the most part, I had absolutely no problems dealing with people who just wanted their freebie bags, their collectible pin, and limited edition Jack Kirby book with articles about his impressive career. Since I wasn't allowed on the main floor, that was the best I could aspire to get, and I enjoyed every single minute of it. 

I did attempt to sneak into the main floor, at first I did get past the security guards, but I miserably failed after only five minutes of walking in I was politely asked to leave the premises. It was worth the try; I got to take a picture of K2-SO from Star Wars: Rogue One. After that failed attempt, I knew that my main objective was to take as many cosplay pictures as I could, and that's exactly what I did. 

The Strong Cosplay Game

It's hard to imagine how much work goes into making most of the elaborate costumes that make it to Comic-Con, I got the pleasure of taking over 60 pictures that I share with you at the very top of this article. All the toddlers with their cosplay are the ones that get me every time. However, perhaps the most beautiful costumes are the ones I got to see an old couple dressed as Han and Leia, who were walking around the floor holding hands and looking cuter than anything I got to see during the whole weekend. I also got a chance to find a couple of celebrities who were walking across the room to get to a panel. One of them was legendary comic book sweaty John Schnepp who has a show on Collider called Heroes. He was nice to me when I recognized him but looked a bit rushed to get to a panel.

However, the other famous person I met was one of the most recognized film critics in recent history; his name is Scott Mantz. As soon as he realized I knew him, he was incredibly gracious and asked me to take out my phone for a selfie; it's cool when people who get famous don't let it get to their head just like Mantz did with me and many fans I'm sure. But is I want to talk about highlights, there are other details of my whole trip that I can mention, for one I got to attend the event with my brother Diego who volunteered and hung out with me after every shift. Another great moment was when I met the lovable Moose, a local who goes every year for the autographs and got to take a picture with Chadwick Boseman. During a few breaks I got while working, I decided to spend time with him and got to meet a great human being who was one of the nicest people I met. 

For next year, I will try to get a badge for sure, either as a professional or press so I can cover more details of the event for this website. I do believe that we qualify to get in there without a problem, we'll do everything we can to get the full experience of the Con. But as a first time, I really can't complain about everything I saw. And the best part of it was that I got to hang out with some very nice people, both staff, and attendees. Let's hope next year increases my love for the experience. 

 Picture taken from Moose Polk's Facebook page

Picture taken from Moose Polk's Facebook page

The new era of Fake News

By Tom Spiegel

We have to face the crude reality in this brave but unaware and uneducated new world, journalism is slowly dying and it may even disappear in due time. While many so-called experts in the craft want to escape the fact that people are getting increasingly more tired of reading, they have the stupid notion that journalism is evolving into some weird hybrid where memes and short attention span content is daily produced. Internet and viral "content" has taken over the world of information by storm, there is nothing we can do to stop it. 

The reason for this is simple, people are growing stupider by the minute, parents no longer educate their children with good reading material. Instead, they condone a conduct that has them all hypnotized in front of screens wasting away valuable minutes they could be using in either a proper class of something useful for humanity or just reading one of the classics. They have traded Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Plato, Sartre and Dickens, for all these pseudo influential people from the internet. Their names are not even worth mentioning, there is very few material or channels available that actually teach you something meaningful online. 

Not to say there isn't any great material at all, it's just that the most reported one by the multi-media giants is usually the viral content that has nothing to do with actual culture or literature. The latest example of this is the United States' new Secretary of education, a billionaire who has no idea of what the word education actually implies and is about to be the main representative and responsible for the education of millions of young people in America. But the one to blame for this appointment is none other than the people, they are the ones who are still worried more about the latest celebrity gossip instead of what is actually going on around the world. 

And here is where this article really becomes relevant, this is all a vicious cycle of fake information that has been the norm for the last couple of years. People who are actually looking for the truth either online or in the mainstream media doesn't know who to trust anymore, depending on the political ideology they belong to, one side usually blames the other for spouting lies to the public in a never-ending process that has people really tired of the establishment. There is no way they will be well-educated with the truth and actual fact-checked information if both sides exaggerate stories or simply lie in all of their reports. This goes both ways, because all the media has managed to transform into a cancer for society these days. 

In my view, the only source of information that can be trusted is the science community because they have all their facts constantly checked. Also, mainstream media news outlets that take a huge amount of their time to demonize or discredit other media outlets are never reliable. But just for the sake of it, take any regular news story that is usually covered by the media like the past Groundhog Day celebration for instance. Watching all news media outlets practically open their coverage with the exact same opening line is really scary, this tells us that they all usually have the same kind of script with mild variations. We wonder where that same script is coming from...

Nowadays, using the term fake news loosely is not very smart, the reality is that the only news that matter or count are the ones that can be fact-checked. Otherwise, you are just contributing to enlarge that humongous mountain of bullshit that mainstream media outlets have been invested in sharing with the public, turning them into mindless beasts that elect nepotic regimes for office. The bottom line is, if you are not consuming the kind of news that always question everything and stay on top of the general issues around the world, chances are that you are just another one of those zombies controlled by the establishment. 

If that is your case then it would be wise for you to thoroughly analyze the kind of content you consume on a daily basis, you have to learn how to trigger your instinct that detects when you are reading or looking directly at bull-shit. Try to look at the misfits of the mainstream media, the ones that don't let anyone dictate what they write or share with their audiences, those are the ones that you should follow. But most of all, knowledge is best found in libraries and museums. There is no better teacher than literature or history, those are the ones who lived through the most remembered periods in time, the ones that left a mark in humanity. 

Today's world is nothing but a shadow of what humans used to be, we have lost that sense of greatness and replaced it with an idea that having wealth and things is what defines us as individuals. We have lost the sense of appreciation for the things that matter in this reality, thus constructing a fake and plastic plane that is bringing us closer and closer to our demise. But we can't lose hope on ourselves, starting by consuming real information is a great start. I dare you all to question every single snippet of info that comes knocking on your door, give it a try and see how it goes, you might get surprised at the feedback you get from the experience.

Love trumps hate all day, everyday

By Tom Spiegel

As it may sound like an overstated phrase, Donald Trump has managed to let fear and hate rule the United States of America in his first week in office. But what did everyone expect from a man who has always been more interested in ratings and money above everything else? There is no denying that the future is uncertain from this point on, but to everyone who is feeling hopeless and desperate I say: you can always take the peaceful approach and protest everything you believe that the Donald is doing wrong. 

But in doing so, you are automatically giving hate and fear the same level you are giving reason and understanding, and I believe that this is the first mistake every peaceful activist is making in the last days. Fear, hatred, discrimination and evil should not be normalized as an everyday activity, this is how dictatorships start. This is how social and political climate used to be in the fifties, the fucking fifties!! I really don't give a fuck about what the alt right says, no ideology based on all the characteristics mentioned above should be given a chance to see the light of day, they should be immediately silenced for the sake of mankind. 

All that extreme thinking that only divides people is falsely appearing as a conservative philosophy, but the real conservatives will tell you that their beliefs are not based on discriminating others of feeling superior in any shape or form. Conservatives think about having a more reserved way of life, but always based on respect for the way that other people think without imposing their ideology in any way. One could even say that any conservative ideology is mostly gone as chivalry is dying also, that elegance is nowhere to be seen in the United States' conservative side. 

But this goes beyond being either a Democrat or a Republican, this goes beyond being Christian or Muslim, this goes beyond being an atheist or a believer. This whole problem is a fundamental inherent issue that human beings have had to deal with since they have been able to use their intellect, it's really just about not being a dick towards your neighbor and understanding that we are all humans and we all deserve to have the same opportunities as the rest of the people. This is what the people from the alt-right, the white supremacist and any person who discriminates another doesn't seem to understand.

The media doesn't help either, there is no certain way of knowing which news outlet is the most reliable one, all of them claim to tell the truth about everything and yet they are all sharing information that automatically opposes the other self-proclaimed reliable news outlet across the street. Y'all don't realize that in this day and age, World War three has already begun, but it's not a nuclear or physical war, this is an information war that we are all a part of. The bombs dropped by the media or certain individuals with a secret agenda, are usually scandals or accusations that directly affect the fate of the world. 

I really have no idea what the future has in store for us, but whatever happens we completely deserve it, because even the people who aren't doing anything to stop the ones doing the most harm and believe that peaceful marching will solve anything, are the ones that also contribute to the problem. Evil has is like a hydra as it has many heads, cutting off the heads has already proven that doesn't work. One has to slay the hydra's very existence from the core, from the very root of the problem and not give it any chance to grow again stronger and more powerful than before. The moment we understand this, is the moment we'll start evolving as humen beings, but meanwhile we are all stuck in the same vicious cycle. 

The difference between Marvel and DC in film

By Tom Spiegel

Warner Brothers needs to create the DC Cinematic Universe and make it as successful as the Marvel Cinematic Universe and yet they still haven't been able to figure out a way to tell good stories in the few films they have done. This is the never-ending story with the old DC vs Marvel rivalry, the same one that has been going for the better part of the last 80 years. Just as DC had the upper hand for decades because they started early in comic books, Marvel started their cinematic universe as a whole earlier than DC and their success has triggered an urgent reaction from the heads of Warner Brothers studios. 

The red flags have been presenting themselves for the better part of the last decade, the head of Warner Brothers, Kevin Tsujihara, has been considered the main person responsible for this poor representation of DC comics in the last three films they have produced. Since the Nolan Batman films, there hasn't really been a comic book movie produced by this company that can rival the frequently good films Marvel Studios have given to the public. We got intel from someone on the inside about the turmoil inside the studios that usually makes film directors clash with executives. 

The latest red flag was Ben Affleck, who just confirmed that unless the script for the new Batman movie is good, he won't take part in directing the solo film. Geoff Johns' latest tweets in which he makes his wishes for 2017 and doesn't even mention the Batman movie was another red flag. The executives are obviously still trying to micro-manage all the movies and by consequence, they have managed to sabotage them, just like they did with Batman V Superman and Suicide Squad last year. They may have the animated movies all figured out, but they still lack the skills that Kevin Feige has at Marvel Studios where they mostly get home-runs. 

The reasons for this recent problem with Ben Affleck could be a few. The most frightening one is that Affleck and Jones don't agree on the script. The other one is the most obvious, which is the studio heads are nosing in to try and modify the story that Jones and Affleck were so excited to tell just a few months back. The year 2017 will be key for what DC movies has in store for us because despite making good money out of the 2016 flops, they still haven't lived up to the expectations of the die-hard comic book fans. Our source at DC believes that the main problem is Tsujihara and the sooner he steps down from his position at Warner Studios, the better. 

 Photo by Ben Affleck Twitter

Photo by Ben Affleck Twitter

Here at Kinofilia as movie fans and comic book enthusiasts, all we can hope is that Wonder Woman and Justice League are amazing movies that make up for the 2016 disasters. We hope Affleck and Johns are still in good terms and if the studio heads are the ones interfering with the project, we beg them to let the specialists do their job. We are not rooting for one side or the other in the DC vs Marvel rivalry, we want both to be as amazing as they are in comic book form. So please do what you can to make us, the fans, happy with the material and not frustrated. 

 Geoff Johns with the legendary Frank Miller

Geoff Johns with the legendary Frank Miller

Why Rogue One is not necessary for Star Wars

 Picture by  Star Wars

Picture by Star Wars

 

By Tom Spiegel

Hey guys, Tom here! Here just hoping you've had a terrific holiday season, it's been an interesting year to say the least. But with 2017 already happening, I believe we have a lot of things to talk about, things that are obviously related to film, music, and art in general. We are entering a new era in which immediacy is the norm instead of trying to deliver a well thought out product for the reader or audience to consume, here at Kinofilia we are always looking to keep our product interesting by generating debate amongst out community and give you the most useful material we can feed your minds with. 

I'm going to get a little obscure yet mainstream here, I'm a film buff as the people who know me may already figured out. And as such, I've always been keen on the very best Hollywood products the industry has to offer, but I do have my preferences when it comes to cinema. Star Wars is one of the most influential pieces of art I've come across with during my lifetime, it's on the same level as all the Stanley Kubrick, Alfred Hitchcock, Quentin Tarantino, Francis Ford Coppola and even Steven Spielberg films I've had the chance to watch. 

 

 Image by  Star Wars

Image by Star Wars

That's why when Disney bought the rights to Lucas Films and this whole notion of canon and legends became the norm, I felt a little disappointed of the huge disregard all those interesting stories suffered. In the latest Star Wars film, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, we have some of the biggest fan service any of those films could get. But after I left the room when I watched the movie, a sense of repetitiveness came over me, somehow I knew that I was watching yet another safe bet in which there is no exploration of anything new the most hardcore fans can feel excited for. 

This sensation gave me mixed feelings about the future, because I have no idea where the general conversation and overall narrative is going. I wanted them to take a leap into the unknown and go deep into the Old Republic territory, but instead they have already announced a Han Solo stand alone movie, and may even be thinking about an Obi Wan-Kenobi stand alone as well. They still haven't realized there is no need to dumb it down for the biggest fans and general audience alike, taking risks is what made Star Wars a franchise in the first place. 

 

That's the reason why I believe that apart from the saga films, there really is no need to tell the stories of characters we already know in general. The name Star Wars is already a money magnet all by itself, literally any story Disney chooses to tell from now on will make big money. This is just an opinion of what I feel in general with the way Disney is taking the whole story of Star Wars, I'm sure they already have plans to develop something related to the Old Republic, my complain is just why are they taking this long to put it out there?

Just so you realize what I'm talking about, take a look at all the cinematics from the video games of Star Wars: The Old Republic and tell me if you don't see a great story for film in there. 

Starstruck

 Image by  Sabina Espinoza

By Tom Spiegel

Something happened today, it was swift and sudden, somewhat unexpected. I met a truly connected human, someone who knows exactly what life is all about. It's about listening to your gut, going against all kinds of specified preconceptions of the world, doing what you think is best not just for you but to your surroundings as well. That someone will remain as a mark I won't be able to shake off my mind even if I wanted to, I'm blessed for being able to breathe the same kind of air this person does and I've never been starstruck in the past. That's not something I usually do, but I have a feeling in my gut, that this person will be one of the greats. 

She is boldness, she is greatness personified, she will be a personality for the ages, she is the muse every artist craves during their lifetime, and yet she is an artist filled with grandeur herself. She does what she wants, when she wants and doesn't take shit from anyone, that's what makes her one of a kind with no regrets. She struck me good tonight, hoping I can remain close to her for as long as she has me. This is not a declaration of anything, these are just facts. I've been starstruck today, that never happens to me, my ego never allows it but today I made an exception. Thank you for this.

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. 

About racism, that awful habit

 Photo credit:  Black Lives Matter

Photo credit: Black Lives Matter

By Tom Spiegel

It's hard to say what is worse, the fact that we are still living here or the fact that most of the population of the world just acts indifferent to what's going on out there. The most indisputable fact in everything that goes on in this plane is this: peace seems like a far away sweet treat to a person that has diabetes. You may have it at some moment, but you can't have it for a long time because somehow it seems that if you abuse it, it will seem like too much and that can't be good can it?

I didn't come here to criticize the American way of life, for starters calling the United States, “America,” seems a little bit narcissistic of you ask me. The whole continent composed by the US, Canada, Mexico, all the Central American Countries and all of South America are called “America” in the first place. Why would you make something your own if it doesn't even belong to you in the first place? Because that's how the people from the United States inherently act. It’s in their nature. Racism is a whole different thing from what I'm talking about. Actually, I think that my topic right here is the very essence of discrimination in general. 

It's that uncontrollable need to quickly call something yours right after you glance at it. It's that inevitable human condition which has taken us to the messy world we all are in right now. Forget all the problems with religion and xenophobia we are all going through on a daily basis. If we don't modify this human condition it will take us to that end we all fear faster than you think about a flatulence right after it left your butthole. We need to understand that all these labels that society has invested so much time in making us believe that exist, are just tools for them to round us up and bend us to their will. 

We all bleed the same color, we are not white, brown, yellow or black. We are all just people, individuals who have the capacity to converse about ideas and create situations that help them coexist as a whole. To keep thinking that it's a race thing especially in the US, it's to keep giving them the power over us at all times. There are people who are still blinded by all those social constructs of reality who are too self-absorbed into the whole collage of things they make us consume on a day to day basis. But the truth is way more simple than just that, but saying all this doesn't give me the key to what the actual truth is because I'm not even from the US and I don't really know what it is to understand the whole historic impact of a movement that's been here from the beginning. 

 

But as I said before, I can't even begin to understand what people from the African American community are going through because of the historic background you have with your government and the white race in general. One thing I can tell you, is that white privilege has existed forever but it's way more notorious in the United States and other countries in Europe such as England or Germany where slavery was a much bigger issue in the past. In other countries where mixing races hasn't been as demonized as there, white privilege presents itself in different and milder ways. In Mexico, when a baby is born with white-skinned he gets treated differently than a baby with a darker skin, this is just how things work in third world countries.

So when it comes to all those movements of Black Lives Matter and that race issue you as a nation can't seem to shake off, I worry because regardless of how much you brag about being the land of the free and a first world country, I see that you are going backwards as a nation due to all these stupid issues that still have an effect in your everyday lives. Please realize that we are all supposed to be past all that racial tension for decades, you are the ones who are still trying to make a big deal out of it. I truly believe that ignoring the most vocal individuals when it comes to this topic will help you get past the problem quicker.

When you say a certain color of lives matter, you got to realize that in reality lives don't really matter. The universe is such a vast place, that it doesn't really give a fuck about any of us anyway. 

 But then again I say. Peace and love are all that matters.   

 

 Photo credit: Jean Jullien

Photo credit: Jean Jullien

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.

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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. 

Meet Ethics.... the new sound of Baja.

By Pavel Ibarra Meda

The memory of a scruffy-looking kid that always keeps his cool is still fresh for me. I always imagined that this skinny dude from Tijuana would share a piece of his mind with the world, and eventually he did. With a kind of dance indy vibe and a lot of feeling for his first music project, Producer Elías Carranco, A.K.A. Ethics, brings us an introductory E.P. that will surely become one of Tijuana's most-played tunes for this generation. 

 

It is safe to say that the time he has dedicated to the craft of making music has finally payed off, with a mature sound that makes us wonder just how far Ethics can go. The combination of lyrics that make you think about life and the ups and downs it has, and an electronic vibe that gets the hips moving, tells us that this artist has tasted all kinds of music, but is looking to define his sound and signature as one of the most eclectic and versatile producers of the Millennial generation. It's not a matter of liking the material or not, it's a matter of sending a message that stands still between peace and serenity.

 

But enough of my ranting. Hear it directly from the mind of Ethics instead, just for y'all...

 

Kinofilia.-Why Ethics?

Ethics.- When I was a kid I feared world war three and the mayan apocalypse, so they took me to a psychologist. After the session they told my parents that I lack criteria and I would never really have any. So I always ask myself about ethics and morality. I don't really know if anything is right or wrong, but now I know that psychologist was a dumb ass because I think I'm pretty conscious. 

 

Kinofilia.- How would you define your music genre?

Ethics.- Genres are for movies. I think music is always evolving and people are complex and in constant change. I don't want to stay stuck to a genre because I like to listen to various types of music, and it would be narrow-minded to force myself to listen to one type of music all my life... like eating tuna everyday, it gets boring.
 

Kinofilia.- Name the main influences you've had in your music life.

Ethics.- I'd say I started listening to disco and funk at a very early age and then started descending into punk and hardcore for my teenage years. After that I started to *grow up* and be more open to everything. 

 

Kinofilia.- What is the impact that independent musicians have had in your upbringing as an artist?

Ethics.-  Well, I like the chaos it can bring, and the intimacy an independent artist can provide to the listeners or participants. You can get a sense of the band's personality, instead of just dropping the coin and getting your music from the vending machine. 
 

Kinofilia.- Tell us a little bit about your early years and the process of becoming the concept of Ethics as a whole.

Ethics.- It's been a long process. It started at 12 when my best friend decided to leave skateboarding and start a band, just because. I guess that's what you do when you're 12, so I raised money for a cheap electric guitar and sucked at it. 

 

I didn't expect to need classes so my friend along with the others cut me out of the band, even though the practice space was in my house. I just sat there listening to shitty Nirvana covers. One day the drummer quit, and they told me to get some drums and play so I did. After that I was a drummer most of my teenage years. I started trying to sing but every band I was in kicked me out. It's alright though because everyone had some sort of idea of what they wanted and I always wanted to go in a different direction. 


I got fed up, and started making music by myself. I really got lost in that DJ phase, which I'm glad is over. I was really young when I got my first LA label deal and tour in Europe. While I was in that scene I realized old DJ´s aren´t cool and music gets annoying after a while, like a zombie pace machine, everybody just bobbing they're head in a synchronized motion. 

 

Soon after that I dropped out and wanted to do comedy and film for a while. It's been 6 years since I stopped making music, but now I know that life is not meant for one thing, it's meant to do whatever makes you happy, and music makes me happy because it's the ultimate way I can express how I feel and think in a nutshell. 

 

Kinofilia.- What other artistic hobbies and abilities does Ethics posses as a band?

Ethics.- I make dark humor stuff, cartoons and films. 


Kinofilia.- Tell us about your favorite art forms in general and how you combine or use them to make your music.

Ethics.- I want Ethics to be a multimedia artist, not only music but everything. I want no limitations. Right now I've only been doing video, photography and music, but who knows. I just love creating. 

 

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In his new E.P. called Instincts, Ethics explores this indy dance vibe with the nostalgia of the places and surely the individuals that have surrounded him throughout his life. Reaching this sound after years of hard work and dedication, Ethic's music tells us that we may have the newest fresh big artist and performer on our hands. The sky is the limit. Here at Kinofilia we thank you for the exclusive interview, wish you the best of luck, and salute your body of art.

For more info on Ethics visit his Facebook page and his Soundcloud profile.