Our favorite half of the best dance party in the world, AmyLu of Nacotheque shares a little about her “mixed-up” youth, the challenges of being a business woman and musician in a sexist world, plus her top secret new artistic endeavor. Our conversation spanned from formal emails to the ever life consuming Facebook chat about her latest creations, custom designed fans by AmyLu. The whole way AmyLu never stopped being anything but sweet as her nickname, “Manzanita.” But, don’t let her innoscent poise fool you, AmyLu is a fierce producer, marketer and publicist.
I first came across Nacotheque in college, and since that first dizzy dance in my frequently flooded first floor apartment, I’ve never stopped bending my knees to the creative genius of this collective. Their aesthetic, reflective of AmyLu’s fusion of cultures and experiences, languages and genres, is emblematic of the young Latino’s cultural position in today’s society. We are all “mixed-up kids,” trying to find our place. AmyLu has carved her space in the world as a monumental heroine of the indie-artsy-fabulous cacophony of influences that make up today’s hip and culturally savvy youth.
Thanks for the interview AmyLu. So, I’m curious. What were some of your fondest memories as a child?
Dancing in my parents living room to my mother playing circus music on her antique organ. Eating homemade sopa at my grandma’s apartment in Mexico. Playing dress-up w/ my mothers clothing and stylish 80’s heels. Watching MTV at my babysitters house and her crimping my hair (I looked like an electrified dandelion).
Where are you from? And how do you think where you come from has influenced your work?
I’m from America, but my mother was living in Mexico when she found she was pregnant so I like to say “Made in Mexico. Born in the U.S.A”!
I don’t really feel my influences come from where I’m from as opposed to how I grew up. My family was very mixed in cultures and traditions. My mom was 8 of 10 children w/ her bloodline of Sicilian, German, and Welch so my holiday gatherings in America were huge w/ aunts, uncles, and cousins, etc w/ lots of food, drink, and happy chatter. My dad grew up in Mexico but his bloodline is Mexican and Spanish. He cooked a lot of Mexican food at home (always spicy and I loved it!).
Both of my parents are very extreme people – hard workers, passionate, emotional, artistic, stubborn, very intelligent, and complicated. I think I am the same. I spoke fluent Spanish til I was 8 but then my parents divorced and I refused to speak (outside of Spanish classes in school). In 2004 I decided to move to Madrid, re-learn my Spanish, and find out where my not-so-popular last name came from…I found out it’s an old royal name from Valencia, Spain! I also fell in love with a lot of music from Spain like Alaska y los Pegamoides, Mecano, Flans, Las Vulpess, Paralisis Permanente, Manu Chao, L-Kan, Naughty Zombies, and many more.
My work is influenced by all the above!
What’s one of your first memories with music?
My first memories is listening to records w/ my parents at home. We’d listen to music in Portuguese, Spanish, and stuff like Elvis, The Beatles, and Mama’s and the Papa’s.
Did you study music or art formally?
In elementary school I studied violin, drums, and french horn. I hated all but drums ‘cept I stopped going half way through the year cause I felt intimidated by being the only girl in class (my teach wrote on my report card “maybe Amy should stick to an instrument for a female next year). I was also in church choir for many years and Jazz choir in High School…I used to love to sing. My favorite subject in school was always art and as a result I ended up studying advertising and packaging design in college.
Where/when did you start producing music?
I started DJing my first year at college. I had two radio shows; one was early morning rock n’ roll called “Slimy Eggs and Burnt Toast” and the other was an afternoon Jazz show called “Cat Jazz”. This was when my collection of multilingual music started ‘cause I was able to order anything my heart desired (free of charge) through the radio station.
What’s one of the best/worst things about your recent tour?
Best thing was being able to share this last tour w/ some great people! We had some great times just hanging out by the hotel pool or chatting about the events and people who came out to support us and the music we played.
Can you tell us about at time you felt discriminated or isolated from the music industry?
Being a female in the entertainment industry definitely has it’s drawbacks. When we first started Nacotheque some people actually thought I was just some groupie who followed Marcelo around. People would be surprised to find that I a.) was literally the “other half” of Nacotheque b.) actually had good taste in music c.) and that I handled a lot of the business and management aspects of the events, touring, promotion, and press for Nacotheque.
How do you think the music industry can improve?
Oh, that’s a tough question. I think it’s like finding love…just kinda gotta let it happen naturally (w/ a little push here and there).
What’s one of your proudest moments, or greatest accomplishments?
I’m proud to be me and to be recognized for doing something unique in such a great, big world. I feel I’ve accomplished a lot in my life from finishing college to living in a country (Madrid, Spain) where I originally didn’t know anyone nor did I really understand the language when I first moved there. Through years of hard work, blood, sweat and sometimes tears I’ve been able to travel to Europe, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and to many large cities in the US to share music that I hold so dearly in my heart.
So how did you get involved with Dulce Pinzón for her recent solo show at Tal Cual? Her work has a lot of mythic and literary reference; what exactly were you depicting in your very sensual and lush pose?
I met dulce back in to 2006 at her party Fresa Salvaje in NYC. We ran in the same circles of mutual friends in the nightlife and art world in NYC. She chose the style of the photo. She said it has something to do w/ the fact that my style is similar to pinup and the apples are in the photo cause my nickname is “Manzanita.”