In a matter of hours Mexico City’s 2nd annual Antes music festival is about to erupt. In keeping with the festivals eclectic motif of unique urban environments, the organizers have set this years mayhem for the renown Ermita building, the 2nd skyscraper in Mexico City’s history. The Ermita building’s movie hall Hipódramo was the first cinema with sound in all of Latin America, an apt and poetic metaphor for my life prior to this festival.
Mexico is no stranger to arty, fun, if not buck-wild music festivals. Everyone knows about Corona Capital and Vive Latino, but not everyone in the U.S. might know about NRML, MtyMx and the new kid on the festival block, Antes. Ironically titled like a would-be Almodóvar film from the 80’s, Antes que nos olviden, the two-year-running underground music festival was held last year in an abandoned office or apartment complex, Morelia 89, in the expensive and very trendy neighborhood, La Roma last year, for its inaugural run.
Despite the austerity of the surrounding community, the building revealed the very rustic, dilapidated and juxtaposing architectures, the very embodiment of Mexico CIty. Climbing the winding staircase of the old, gutted building, took me back to this small punk festival I attended in Chicago some years ago, similarly held in a much smaller, much dingier, gutted, and less strategically placed Westside apartment building. Both Antes and that punk event burst with the same DIY guts and grimes vibe, both proposals much smaller than this year’s Antes, and both having permitted BYOB entrance. The true definition of socialist-captilism, absolutely democratic in philosophy and practice.
We’ll see what the shake down is this year, but regardless of my drinking habits, I expect to have a blast. But, before getting down to business, the organizers this year took some time to share a little about their own lives, work, and outlooks for Antes este año and beyond. Antes festival currently harolds some 30 bands on its roster. Russian headliners, Motorama are scheduled to rock my world later tonight. So with quelled excitement, I present this year’s festival mix and some of my favorite acts, including Martinez, Mentira Mentira, Soledad and much more. It feels as if this year’s bands follow a much more down-tempo, jazz and hiphop-oriented jive than the dark and brooding raver past, but that may simply be the curatorial leanings of this mix’s windup.
Teehn Bwitches, Gay Duo, Los Negretes, Ritualz, and even Tony Danza, were among the 21 band lineup, with pre-and-after parties by Negative Youth’s Ñaka Ñaka, and top pic by Isabela Raygoza of Remezcla.com, Mentira Mentira at el Centro Cultural de España’s lovely terrace March 2011. Needless to say last year’s festival left quite a mark on my concept and understanding of Mexico City’s potential and power.
So you see why I just had to get in touch with the organizers of this tight operation, for the backstage scoop and more. The whole operation is run by four people: Benjamín Ocaranza Bastida, Jorge Segoviano Gallegos, Ashauri López Aparicio, and Mauricio Guzmán Becerra. Not everyone was able to exchange facts with me, but I do have the privilege of offering you commentary from Benjamin, Jorge, and Yumi for a little update on their thoughts about last year, Antes’ formation, and their outlook for this year’s festivities.
Collaborator and editor for the weekly D.F. art and culture paper Frente, Benjamin eaks about Negative Youths’ great help in arming up Antes last year, but laments, “this year our paths split and they decided not to participate.” Benjamin is columnist for Lado B, the section dedicated to alternative propositions in Mexico’s entire national art spectrum, with special inclinations towards emerging music. He is also a blogger for Mexico’s Cerveza Dos Equis while maintains a radio station on Transnacional.net. He’s a promoter, private, independent event producer who sometimes freelances in the publicity world. He jokes, “I enjoy live music and I’m somewhat of a closeted photographer.” He’s got plans of working one day with architectural lighting and of course on more shows.
Yomi, a student, plays the drums and makes “a little noise in D.D.A. and mnjb bfkg. While Jorge, co-director of Gutenver, also writes for Deletéreo. He collaborates on opinion columns and concert reviews for several local media outlets and tucks his two years of experience with Antes snuggly under his belt. Jorge adds, in his “free time” he enjoys the title, “Creative Director for a digital publicity agency in Mexico City.” The story starts for Jorge, “from the different reunions between the different teams which at the time consisted of Rio55, Negative Youth, NWLA and Evil Tortuga.
Coinciding with the anniversary of Brooklyn-based producer, Todd Patrick’s MtyMx festival in Monterrey, Mexico. The mostly foreign imported lineup of the festival, though impressive, must have roused a roar of nationalist sentiment in the Mexico City bunch of friends. Antes boasts of its Mexico-packed, and internationally sprinkled selection. With all my favorable and consciously local everything preferring snobbery, I must confess my gratitude to the forward thinking group of Mexico City professionals for their social-political pro-microlocal economics lessons. I’m sure Villapalooza fans would agree.
“Independent organizations like NRML and us do it for the love of producing ‘happenings.’ We specifically don’t work for profits, but we also don’t want to generate losses. It’s really lovely when we reach that balance.”
–Jorge Segoviano Gallegos, Communications for Antes Festival
“The bands,” who “needed a place to share their projects with good sound, a space where the music was the primary protagonist,” confides Benjamin, is the primary catalyst for the festivals manifestation. The festival differs from all the other exemplary festivals put out of Mexico, including NRML, Antena, Corona Capital and Vive Latino in its mission objective. Jorge shares, “some [festivals] exist to capture massive audiences to consume and generate business, others aim to capture niche audiences with determined potential. Independent organizations like NRML and us do it for the love of producing ‘happenings.’ We specifically don’t work for profits, but we also don’t want to generate losses. It’s really lovely when we reach that balance.”￼
Sounds like the Antes team should run for presidency. With a platform based on balanced budgets and egalitarian love of presenting their honest passion for innovative and talented new music in Mexico, these guys could make a sweep in any election.
On the trials and tribulations, the growth from last year to now, Benjamin shares; “We learned a lot, but what trained us well was Álvaro 179, a project that ran from Abril to July this year in an ephemeral space. Last year there weren’t so many errors, just lack of experience. This year we’re much more organized.”
Bravely divulging some industry blunders last year with a somber dose of remedial resignation, Yomi explained, “not communicating with the providers well enough, [and] the transportation of equipment caused us some trouble last year, but this year we won’t let that happen again.”
Jorge chimes in on their learning experiences, “We learned to work as a team. We learned more about each other and we certified the idea to continue with this beautiful project we got ourselves mixed up in. The experience of Rio55 (the underground bar we ran in Benjamin’s house) and Á179 gave us a sold base. We believe we’ve made this year way better.”
Yomi confirms the team’s criteria for band selection with a tight-knit kinship to the minor and relatively unknown acts: “We look for projects that were working hard this year, furthermore we placed as prerogative not to repeat more than 2 acts from last year. We added small obscure projects from our city, dignified of being exported anywhere.”
Benjamin concludes, he would enjoy for acts like Mueran Humanos to appear on Antes lineup next year, and Jorge expects to add more international acts to the bill “while pursuing undiscovered talent in Mexico, acts that blow our top off.”