As part of our year long broadcast series in Mexico, we teamed up with the MUTEK MX festival. In addition to curating an exclusive in-house collaboration between international key figures and the local CVMR label, it provided insight into some of the world’s key digital arts exponents during three days of broadcasting.
Artists from around the world ascended on various studios in Mexico City, bumping heads to conceive wild, Frankenstein medleys. It provided a one-off opportunity to profile the cultural diversity that the city has to offer. We followed one of the country’s front runners, AAAA accompanied by his Austria-based partner in crime Tin Man, as he showed around his favourite spots in Mexico City: skateboarding havens, diner-cum-club spaces, electronics repair shops and all. We’ve also nabbed one of the fruits of their music labour, exclusive premiering the pair’s “East Is The Beast”, which can be found below.
Simply put, Mexico City is a cultural alpha. Just one glimpse at the works of the local producers, collectives, DJs, and even party-throwers is enough of an indicator of its impact; never mind our year long Mexican broadcast/documentary series that has cemented this Latin American capital as a primary incubator for fresh and ever-weird talent in our eyes.
It’s also clear that no interpretation is as rich as that of a local’s. For this reason, we called on the joint efforts of AAAA and L.A./Vienna’s Tin Man (collectively, Tin MAAAAn). Together, they shaped an hour-long acid house performance at MUTEK MX’s main stage this year.
Dissecting D.F. (the Federal District) to point out its musical hotbeds (or anything else for that matter) has never been easy. Sure, you can find the city’s equivalent of a Williamsburg/East London within the neighbourhoods of La Roma, Condesa, or even La Juarez. Each has a habit of luring local creatives with enough money into renting pricey flats in exchange for the perks of central bohemian living. But seldom do these up-and-coming areas play home to full-time musicians or struggling producers for obvious reasons.
Truth is, Mexico City and its metropolitan area, (hosting 25 million+ residents) might just be as indecipherable as it can get. In the case of Gabo Barranco aka AAAA, downtown Mexico City (commonly referred to as the ‘historic centre’) is the location of his two-room apartment. Within it lies a studio that entertains late night production marathons from Gabo and his roommate – which are hilariously mistaken by the overly-sensitive neighbours as “dement drug-induced Minimal-Pyscho raves”.
“Cheap living costs make el Centro a perfect breeding ground for striving artists of all mediums”
El Centro Histórico is nothing short of aural punishment by itself. Dense hoards of mobile commerce, deafning vehicles, and tourism seem ever-present throughout the several rush hours of the day. Yet the low rent prices for spacious flats and cheap living costs make el Centro a perfect breeding ground for striving artists of all mediums. Nevertheless, within the chaos lies an overwhelming explosion of colour, scents, non-sense, flavour, music. Noise can mutate into inspiration; making the city’s core an essential asset of the federal district’s culture.
El Centro Histórico – Downtown Mexico City
With such a wide geographical/demographic canvas, you would think numerous musical pin-points lie across the city. Yet the followers, performers, and promoters that repel from the EDM laptop-jockey culture greatly suffer from a lack of spaces. With too much of everything, subcultures are forced to find unconventional areas to call home.
“The extinct Salon Bach in downtown – a cantina/restaurant by day, improvised venue for low-budget promoters by night.”
A very illustrative example of this is the extinct Salon Bach in downtown – a cantina/restaurant by day, improvised venue for low-budget promoters by night. The basement-like hall located in Bolívar #17 hosted a party curated by local promoter Gorge Emilio about a year ago which featured DYN‘s Frankie Francisco, System Error, and Tin Man/AAAA on the same bill. Fuelled by a mutual obsession with mono hardware and the TB-303, the last two became good friends.
Salon Bach – Centro Histórico
“We all have a cultural language since we are young, but it all comes down to obsession. The people which I share the most things in common are the ones that are just as obsessed as I am with something.” – AAAA
Many hardware devotees like Gabo find themselves visiting El Centro for the numerous blocks of audio and music electronics outlets across Bolívar and Mesones. Scrunched between family businesses and repair workshops, you can find cramped rooms re-selling broken equipment, and when in luck, even early 80s Yamaha and Roland synthesisers.
Next door to this lies Chowell Discos, one of the city’s oldest living record shops. Aside from the front door crates displaying classic MJ and glam rock re-issued stocks, it offers an extensive section of Hi NRG and Italo Disco. Bore deeper and you can find orphaned Frankie Knuckles records or even early acid house singles. Rumours say even Erol Alkan has taken records to his sets out of that stock. D.F. holds several record shops around town, both old and new, all with a tendency to encompass as many genres as possible; from the newest Jack White LP to degraded copies of Lil’Louie’s “French Kiss” for example).
Inspiration also lies beyond the creased record sleeves and brimming crates for people like AAAA. Sometimes its the most arbitrary things and whereabouts: internet paraphernalia, global influence, and in more specific cases, skateboarding. Acrópolis to be exact. The joys of living in modern day Mexico manifest.
*Photography by: Andrea López + Daniel Acosta*
– stay tuned for the archive performance of Tin MAAAAn at MUTEK MX. For more exclusive content check our Dailymotion channel –
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