Artist To Artist: Man Power Talks To Rebolledo
It’s safe to say that in an electronic musical landscape which is ever more inclined to use the same cookie cutter to create its toned, plucked and be-quiffed ambassadors, Rebolledo provides a somewhat iconic silhouette as an artist who is determined to follow his own path and instincts.
His has been an entirely unique voice, since it was first heard on Kompakt, through his completely singular debut album "Super Vatos" on Comeme, and through to his current work as half of the Pachanga Boys, and their Hippy Dance label.
This weekend now sees the launch of his ongoing TOPAZefimero project.
Conceived alongside fellow Mexican JP “Champis” Escobedo, and realised with the assistance of European DJ “Man Power”, the project sees the trio rebuilding Champis and Rebolledo’s Club TOPAZdeluxe (situated in Monterrey) in a series of European locations over the summer, using different techniques and media to emulate it’s entirely unique atmosphere.
The opening weekend sees gigs in London (this Friday with ReviveHER at EFES), Newcastle (Saturday, with Tourist and ¡VAMOS! Festival), and Berlin (this Sunday, at the open air venue ELSE), all with a variety of guests who have a relationship with the Mexican club, including Man Power, Saschienne (Kompakt) and Paramida (Love on The Rocks).
Further gigs will follow at new European locations throughout the summer, all potentially with the promise of appearances from TOPAZdeluxe’s impressive list of friends and supporters, which over it’s 7 years of existence includes such names as Barnt, Micheal Mayer, Jennifer Cardini, Tim Sweeney, Munk, Mike Simmonetti, Zombies in Miami, Carizma, Daniel Maloso, Cosmo Vitelli and many many others…
As a music maker, do you find it more important to represent Mexico’s musical identity, or to create a new musical identity for yourself?
To be honest I don't use my time thinking about these kinds of things but now that you ask, eventhough I love being Mexican and I'm proud of it, I don't think this is something I take in consideration when it comes to music or anything related to it. I just do my thing how I feel it.
What sounds were you surrounded by growing up and what was the music scene like in Mexico in the 80s? Were the big alternative musical movements like New Wave and Post Punk happening in Mexico too, and if so was it the music coming from America and Europe that people were listening to, or did Mexico have its own scene?
In the 80's I was a kid wanting to be a kid, I always enjoyed music but I was not searching for it. In my hometown I was a bit isolated, at that time communication was super limited so no MTV, no nothing. So I was really unaware of what was happening outside of the very mainstream stuff. I was a happy kid listening to Michael Jackson at home and some Disco in the car when my dad would play it. I'm not gonna pretend I was underground when I was eight (even if I kind of was but that's another story).
What traditional Mexican sounds did you listen to as a kid?
I always loved marimbas and I still do, the regional music from my region Veracruz is something I really like too. It's happy, it's repetitive and it can be deep.
Do you think any of these traditional sounds find their way directly in to your music?
Not really or at least not intentionally. I guess I've been influenced in one way or the other and I have used traditional instruments in untraditional ways in my music, which out of their original context have a total different meaning. To be honest, I don't like this thing of making caricatures of regional music. There are some few examples of people who have done it in a great way, but in general if I want to hear folklore I'd rather listen to the original thing.
You began your DJing career as a resident at La Santanera, how did this come about, and what kind of music where you playing? The impression we have in the UK is of Playa Del Carmen being a kind of “spring break” town. Was there a vibrant music scene when you were resident, and is it still there now?
Playa del Carmen back in the day was a very cool place to be, some years before I got there it was still a little town of a few main blocks with some hippies, cool relaxed people and some nice bars. When I got there it was going through a change towards more proper nightlife. Some places were already doing "electronic" nights and some bigger raves were done every now and then around the area. While those places were doing their thing with local Djs trying to sound like Global Underground djs from those days, La Santanera opened with the idea of bringing a wider musical spectrum. You could have on the same season; people like Kid Loco performing one day, The Mole on the other, guests from Kompakt, etc. It was an interesting time. The town kept on growing and became a bit more mainstream but it's still a cool place to go (especially in low season at least for me). If you go there between new year's eve and the first half of January, you'll see that basically everybody in the business is around playing. So yeah, you could say there's a big scene there. Santanera by the way, even if they have changed location it's still the best club in town and the one which that has the best curation.
When was the first time you visited a club in Europe, and which club was it?
2008. Don't remember which one to be honest, in the same year I was in Fabric, Panorama, Rex and others. But I don't remember which one was first.
What were the biggest differences you saw between clubbing in Europe and at home in Mexico? What was better, and what was worse?
I don't think the differences between scenes really depend on where the clubs are to be honest. You can't compare Berghain with Rex or Trow – which are all European clubs ( Was… in the case of Trow) and for the Mexican clubs, it's also hard to compare one from the other. At the end, clubs are made by the concept they stand for and the crowd that is attending. Two clubs in the same city can be two totally different things.
You’ve worked very closely with Kompakt for years now, how did that relationship come about?
When I was a resident at Santanera I was hosting some of the guests, and that was the case with them. The first that came was Tobias Thomas, we became good friends, then months later it was Superpitcher and Michael and the year after that it was Matias. For some reason there was a nice connection that became a close friendship, work came later unexpectedly and naturally, nothing was planned and nothing was forced. It just happened.
You also released your first album on Comeme, as well as helping set the label up, how come you no longer have any visible involvement now?
Yes, Cómeme is a very important part of my path which has led me to where I am now (wherever that is). The early years were super exciting for all of us and very active. When I decided to create my own label Hippie Dance together with Superpitcher to have other creative perspectives it was the time when Cómeme was having very interesting new coming artists, so there was a lot going on there. I thought it was better to focus on my own thing and my own label, following my own way.
Would you say Hippie Dance is more truly representative of Rebolledo?
Nowadays I would say so.
Is Hippie Dance going to be the home of all of your original material from now on?
I have no idea, I don't like to plan too much and I don't spend my days thinking about my future "in the music business"
You now live in Paris, what made you settle for that particular European city?
Can you speak French?
Desolé… Je ne parle pas Francaise
How did the idea for TOPAZdeluxe come about, and what were you hoping to achieve with the space?
My good friend Champis (Juan Pablo Escobedo) and I were always thinking about ideas of what a cool place could be. Back in the day we had organized a Halloween party in a really cool spot, full of great ideas and a very nice production, after that we knew we were a cool team and we thought we could take it into new projects. During my last year living in Playa del Carmen, as a parallel thing to my Djing, I was running a bar with some friends I established called CORVETTE NINJA. It was a great place to be honest but too underground for Playa's new mainstream tendency in those days and too expensive to maintain. Every time Champis would come and visit, he would tell me, "What a great place but what a waste of time, let it go, come back to Monterrey and let's do something great". So when the whole thing collapsed and there was no way back, I just picked up the ashes of my creation and moved back to Monterrey to start the next one. All we wanted was a place to dance where we could feel at home and that's what we did.
Monterrey has overcome a lot of problems in recent years, and is thankfully a safe and secure place these days, but it did have a difficult period several years ago which forced a curfew on the city. Did this negatively effect the club? What was the response of the people who went to Topaz? Did it make it tempting to give up, and why did you all choose not to?
More than once the numbers said we should quit, just like the other 70% of the places that closed during those hard times, but the love for what we do and what we stand for made us hold on. Business wise it's been quite hard to recover after such crisis, but the followers of the place are so loyal that it's hard to imagine to close just because "It's the right decision".
What’s the story of the record collection that fills the back wall to the DJ booth?
There all kinds of music in there and comes from many different sources. Something I used to really like to do from my resident days was to leave my record boxes in the dj booth. So on the nights I would play all night long I would have around 400 records with all kinds of music to choose from which gave me so much freedom to do whatever I wanted. When we created TOPAZdeluxe, I wanted to have this same feeling, if I would have an idea I would just turn and look for the record. When I was playing there very often (while still living in Monterrey) it was a very common thing to see me turning and checking the shelves looking for a specific record after having some idea. These days when I visit Topaz I still do it because I still know where the records are, actually the last time I found a personal classic that was so great to play that I took it with me and it's in my record case traveling with me all the time again…
Did you have to begin a new collection when you moved to Europe, or did you ship records over?
I have records everywhere, at my parents place in La Pitaya, in Monterrey at TOPAZ and in paris…
Do you still play on Vinyl at all, or do you simply collect these days?
I still play vinyl, even if less clubs and festivals are properly prepared for that. Which is a shame.
Which city do you regard as “home” in Mexico?
My home town Xalapa, eventhough where I actually stay is just outside of it in La Pitaya.
Do you think you would ever return to Mexico full time now?
I don't think the concept "Full Time" will apply to me for many years if ever again, but I really want to spend more time back there. I'm actually building a house right now in La Pitaya where my new studio will be, but I will always have to come back to Europe for long periods. A half-half situation could be something that would work for me perhaps – we'll see.
Would you like to see the Mexican electronic music scene grow and develop, or do you think it’s where it should be and would be spoiled if it developed further?
I will always be in favour of progress. (As long as it is progress)
Where’s your favourite place to eat in Monterrey?
Any yard or terrace of any of my friends having "carne asada". Grilling is like a sport in Monterrey, this is something I really miss.
Where’s your favourite place to eat in Paris?
So many, Le Verre Volé is where I go the most and Le Chateaubriand is another favorite.
Do you have a favourite place to eat in either London or Berlin (we’ll assume you don’t in Newcastle)?
In Berlin there's a great schnitzel fancy place that I go with Superpitcher to, I can't remember the name (It's his selection).
In London not really, I've been in many great ones but not enough times on a specific one to call it a favorite.
What’s the one thing somebody must see if they visit Mexico?
Impossible for me to say really. Mexico is so many things and has so many faces that it would not be fair to try to mention the one and only.
What’s next on the horizon for Rebolledo and The Pachanga Boys?
I'm working on my next solo album to be out before the end of the year if all goes well, and there are exciting things to come on Hippie Dance. Pachanga Boys is doing some special shows in the coming months and are getting ready to go back to the studio, but with no pressure or deadline at all. We are easy going guys.
See Rebolledo and Man Power in London on Friday 12th June at EFES Snooker Club from 9pm – 5am, more information here. They're also in Newcastle on 13th June and Berlin on 14th June. Find out more about TOPAZefimero here.
Rebolledo also plays Discosodoma at Bloc on July 11th. More info here
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