A Week in Tijuana: Norte Sonoro Part 1

Photographer John Francis Peters
November 14, 2012
    1 / 1

    Last year, DJ/Rupture participated in the Norte Sonoro project in Monterrey, a collaboration of international musicians taking place in northern Mexico run by the NRML crew. This year, Rupture returns with a leadership role, having chosen the artists participating—Cardopusher from Venezuela, Poirer from Canada, Psilosamples from Brazil and Sun Araw and Venus X from the US. They've moved over to Tijuana and six producers are working with four Mexican acts—Movimiento Alterado, Banda Sinaloense, Hyphy and Corrido Sierreño. They'll release a free EP with the music they've made and on Friday all the acts perform at a free show. Rupture spoke to us about his hopes for the collaborations and photographer John Francis Peters is in Mexico this week documenting what happens. Here's the first of two looks at their time in Tijuana, along with his favorite track that came out of last year, by Venezuela's Algodón Egipcio, "remixing/using vocals from this incredible old school MX group, Los Cardencheros de Sapioriz."

    What are you doing in Tijuana? The project, this is actually the second year they've done this, and the project is taking a half dozen international producers and musicians down to Tijuana for a week and there, working with local and regional mostly acoustic musicians, and the idea is both to like you know, to sit down with a tuba player and to talk about what he's doing and the instrument but also to give everyone involved the greater context of what is going on culturally, and the context of all the music that's coming out of Mexico right now. The whole thing is several days of working in a studio, musicians hanging out, and building along those lines and then it ends Friday with a free concert. Then a couple weeks or a couple months from now all the results from everybody's favorite tracks that are produced during that time will be gathered and put on a free compilation, a free EP on the internet.

    What’s most interesting to you about the music scene in Mexico right now? I remember my first time in Mexico was in Mexico city and when you're there, you’re like Man, it's relatively so close to the US…' You might as well be in a different universe. There's so much going on and so deep musically that from stuff like tribal guarachero that we were writing about here like two or three years ago to all sorts of new stuff, amazing acoustic and electronic bands happening, particularly in Tijuana. It's really interesting because, although I've never been, talking to a lot of Americans they're like, “Oh, it's a terrible border town, tourist trap—don't go there!” but then all the Mexicans I speak with are like, “Tijuana is having the most amazing cultural moment going on.” And there's all these young kids producing electronic music and indie music and it's right there on the other side of California so that it's kind of this long continual cultural strip. They're pulling in all these different Mexican influences and electronic influences and then reflecting the really heavy context of Tijuana, which had all this violence and was of going through this sort of musical and artistic renaissance right now. So on the one hand you get kids making great party music and just doing experimentation and all this stuff, and on the other hand you get artists really trying to grapple with what does it mean to be in Mexico in 2012, 2013, here in a border town where its all these lines of power crisscrossing, and how are we going to figure that out.

    So how did you choose the participants? That was, how can I describe it, to go nitty gritty, it's usually international folks who are doing progressive, forward thinking, interesting music, but then also trying to think, whose work is going to be open to kind of being changed by the experience? Who would really kind of take advantage of being there for a proper week. Cause it's not a matter of like, Oh, I have to sample that guitar and make my beat, but you want people can really engage on that level. And so that was kind of a steering idea. And then of course, because so much of it is just like people to people, it's kind of just trying to get the right balance, people and different styles, personalities and trying to juggle all these things, which is totally chaotic. We've been working a lot with the Norte Sonoro team to figure out what musicians in and around Tijuana were going to be there and interested in doing it.

    What do you think is going to happen? A lot of people haven't met each other yet. I want the musicians to have a good time, and the thing, I'm sort of looking at…how can I say this, almost like first and foremost it's a deep opportunity for cultural exchange, and so trying to pick people who are really interested in that and transformed by it and excited. And then of course you want the magic of a studio vibe happening. That's something that can't really be forced but there's ways to try to make it all work. And then actually I'm really looking forward to the presentation on Friday, because with the studio time it's all this idea of, let's translate some things and share some sounds back and forth, but on Friday it's every musician. There's some wiggle room, like when I did this last year I actually did half of my set dubbing out this amazing cumbia band so I think, if a live collaboration happens, but for the most part it will be everyone bringing their sound and repping what they do to Tijuana, which will just be sort of amazing. I think it's the first time any of the international producers have performed in Tijuana. There's this huge scene, everyone there is super keyed in so it'll be a real pleasure. And it's not only this crazy party, there’s also this idea that it's not just going to a flash and two months from now we'll have songs circulating. For me the whole project, one of the reasons why it's so important to me, is that just from going to do shows or various kinds of work in Mexico for the past couple years, I'm realizing there’s a huge gap between what folks in the States see of Mexico or think of when they think of Mexican music than what's actually going on. So when I step out of it and think of the big picture I'm really excited to present all these different ways of looking at the many things that are happening there, you know, beyond whatever the narco thing, or “tribal Monterrey is huge!” or beyond cumbia, and that's it. So yeah, that's really kind of exciting.

    A Week in Tijuana: Norte Sonoro Part 1