Q&A: Local Monterrey Duo XYX Talk MtyMx, the Mexican Music Scene, and Why We Should All Lighten Up and Go to the Flea Market When We Get There
XYX, the junkyard noise-punk, drum-n-bass duo from Monterrey, Mexico, can be heard live this weekend at Todd P's MtyMx Festival, which is being held in XYX's hometown. The duo consists of Mou, 27, on drums, and Anhelo, 29 on bass and vocals; they formed back in 2007, when the two ran their own separate record labels, Nene Records and Penetración Cósmica Tapes. One way to differentiate XYX from the loads of bands playing MtyMx, they tell us, is to listen for Anhelo singing "weird stuff about sex and obscure things." Another way? Just follow the "psychedelic frenzy." We called XYX up to ask what else the rest of us can expect when we finally make it down to Monterrey.
What are some misconceptions you think people in the U.S. have about music in Mexico?
Mou: That it doesn't exist.
Is that why you started your own label?
Mou: We started it when we realized that there were a lot of cool bands around and didn't have any recordings or the money to pay a pro studio to record. So we bought some cheap equipment, that we still have and use, learned some audio basics and started doing our own recordings from our bands and our friend's bands. Later we realized that trying to sell CDs would be a total financial disaster for us and decided to make the website and put the recordings for free download.
Has having a label helped in getting more recognition in the U.S.?
Mou: Nene related bands have gained attention in the U.S. because of the releases that labels like S-s, Skulltiones and Siltbreeze have been doing of Ratas del Vaticano, XYX, and Los Llamarada. In the case of Ratas, their first record was first on Nene, then Siltbreeze got interested in it and made a 12" record, so yes. And also thanks to the U.S. releases and our bands touring in the States, people now know of Nene and they can have a glimpse of the cool stuff going on here.
So how is your band different from others in Monterrey?
Mou: The thing that even if we never studied music, we consider ourselves musicians. It is not a hobby or something to do only on weekends. It's like you wake up in the morning thinking how are you going to end the song you started the day before...something like an obsessive-compulsive behavior. But I guess for me it's an attitude towards life in general.
Anhelo: The diversity of drugs.
What were you listening to growing up?
Mou: At the age of 6 when I listened to Los Microchips. I collected all the cardboard boxes I could find and started to bang them like drums. It seemed like a really cool and fun thing to do and it still seems to be like that.
Anhelo: Punk Crap. The weird stuff from MTV, Trent Reznor, Kat Bjelland, South American metal bands.
Can you explain what the music scene in Monterrey was like then?
Anhelo: Independent musicians from Monterrey never had proper attention and support from the media. There is no TV or radio to play your music unless it traveled to the capitol of the country and people there really like you--then you get attention from the media in Monterrey. Living in the Northeast of Mexico, most people are into cumbia, nortena, tejano music. There was a big scene during the '90s for alternative music and hip-hop.
What is it like there now?
Mou: There are some different music scenes in Monterrey now but they are not related to each other. The big ones, I would say are electronic and hip-hop, then heavy metal, and all kinds of hardcore. Lastly it's like punk, noise, and experimental. I think some it has to do with the drug business. It's easier to get coke there than weed or acid. Hardcore happens in any big city cause it is straightly attached to politics. I've noticed that this scene is more like a brotherhood to support young buddies that will grow being street artists, DJs, beat makers, poets of the rhyme, etc. Noise and experimental is very rare, mostly by multitask artists that switch their living from Monterrey to DF and other countries.
Mou: Everything is different now. It's more organized and systematic. We have El Garage--run by Yo Garage--now and there was no place like this before.
What's the best thing about MtyMx?
Mou: That kids are experiencing this and get excited. Like, when I was 15 there was no MtyMx fest! I wonder what would my life be if I had seen Acid Mothers Temple or Ratas del Vaticano in my teen years. I'm so jealous.
What's your advice for first time Monterrey visitors?
Anhelo: Monterrey is very crowded and there is some psychosis right now due to insecurity, you know, the drug cartel wars etc. Despite all that, people have to go on with their lives so, visit the flea market called El Puente del Papa. You'll find all kinds of stands with antiques, street fashion clothing, all kinds of piracy, crazy food like a stand of tostadas with more than 20 kinds of hot sauces, drink tepache (fermented pineapple) with ice and chili powder on top. Check the old cumbia records, the cumbia rebajada CDs, you can get like 100 songs in a CDR for 10 pesos (less than 1 USD). Go to the Colegio Civil market too.
Mou: Well...Monterrey is not a very "Mexican" place. If you want to encounter the real Mexico you'll have to go south. We really don't have all the amazing food and traditions that states like Oaxaca or Michoacan have. But you can have fun here. Downtown is great for fun. Get wasted and hear some local norteño and colombia music.
What should people avoid?
Mou: Come to the fest, have fun and then don't stay in Monterrey! Visit somewhere else. Go south.
Anhelo: If you're driving your van or car, don't leave your stuff in it, the festival will have a service to register your equipment and watch it for you. Also, be careful walking across the huge avenues, go along with the rest of the people. Monterrey is a huge industrial city that has no driving education. Cars seem to have priority over pedestrians or bikes.