Q&A Interview: Nortec Collective’s Bostich + Fussible on Tijuana micorbreweries, Pilobolus and ‘Motel Baja’

Nortec Collective's Bostitch and Fussible define the new sound of Tijuana. Photo courtesy of Nacional Records.

It’s been known that no other group fuses the soundtrack of their own city the way Nortec Collective does. Hailing at the start of the millennium, the luminary iPad-prone duo not only keeps reinventing the sonic melds that describes the noise of their beloved Tijuana, but their sound continues to inspire generations of new border fusions like today’s ruidosón. Here, Fussible (née Pepe Mogt) elaborates more on the evolution of these hybrid music sounds, and where they see Tijuana’s music scene heading.

We met up with both Bostich (née Ramón Amezcua) and Fussible just hours before they prepared for their Latin Alternative Music Conference (LAMC) Celebrate Brooklyn performance at Prospect Park. In this interview we talked about their anticipated and upcoming album Motel Baja, their recent collaboration with dance group Pilobolus, and about the microbrewery revolution that’s taking over Tijuana’s nightlife scene.

I hear that you are about to launch this new collaboration/party with a dance group called Pilobolus. Can you talk about that?

Fussible: Pilobolus is a New York-based dance group originally from Connecticut. It’s a company that has been together for about 2 years now. The group premiered a performance [July 11], which is a piece that they are going to dance with our music that is nearly 25 minutes long. We saw the rehearsals together and played the music for them, but July 11th was the first time we’ll be seeing the whole show collectively with all the costumes, lighting, etc., at the theater.

You guys have remained untouchable in the sense that Nortec never had direct competition musically, or even a Nortec spurt of clones since your emergence. Why do you think that is?

Bostich: One of those reasons is because Nortec reflects the lifestyle of a Tijuana citizen. It’s about collecting all the pieces from the roots of Tijuana. I think it will be very difficult for others to do ‘Nortec’ music because it’s a mixture of techno roots, and the other side is banda and norteña music.

In recent years, the media has called ruidosón the post-Nortec sound. Do you see any similarities to your music and ruidosón?

Fussible: In the beginning in 1999, when we started Nortec, we were one of the first to fuse norteño and banda with techno. We were also putting out a certain type of cumbia with [electronic music] during this time, but we did that only for one year.

Later years, cumbia exploded, and with that, lots of ruidosón bands emerged, including Macuanos, María y José, and other bands from Tijuana. I don’t care who did what first. It’s not a competition, or if they are copying us. If they are doing that, it’s fine with me. It’s not like I have to be requesting some kind of permit or whatever.

Not even Ramón or I invented norteño, or the fusion of norteño with electronica. Maybe the difference between them and us in the end is the music. You can do cumbia right now, but if you’re a good musician and your music is good, it really doesn’t matter if you’re mixing [techno] with norteño, salsa, or whatever kind of music.

So for us it’s good that we continue mixing. I’m not in a position to say, “They are copying what we did 10 years ago.” We really don’t care. What we really care is wishing them to keep doing well with music, and if they want to mix cumbia it’s fine with us. We hope they’re doing well and that they can be successful.

Because I consider you guys like music anthropologists, I want to ask you about where you see the music of Tijuana heading in about five to seven years, given that it changes so rapidly.

Fussible performing live at Club De Ville in 2011. Photo by Kristie Bocanegra.

Fussible: It’s now like a new scene in Tijuana, not only music and nightlife, but in food and breweries. Beer and microbreweries are a big movement right now, and that makes nightlife much more interesting. Nightlife is new in Tijuana right now.

People are also more concentrated in DJs than bands. There are a lot more DJs than bands. It’s been like two or three years now. Maybe there will be more bands in the next couple of years. What I see a lot now is a lot of fusion of jazz and rock, and improvisation of jazz music with young people, not to be mistaken with hotel jazz. It’s very experimental and very psychedelic. It’s really good.

I have been to a couple of events like that in Tijuana with local bands where they were playing jazz with really weird keyboards and distortions. I think there will be a movement heading that direction, and that there will be new things.

On the topic of the rise of microbreweries, what sparked this growth of new promoters in Calle Sexta?

Bostich: From 2004 to 2007, we lived very hard times in Tijuana. It was a very violent city. The people there constantly worried that they would be kidnapped. Those were terrible times.

In 2008, problems reduced. The people began looking for places to hang out. One of our friends at Calle Sexta opened up a bar called La Mezcalera. That was the beginning of Calle Sexta. People started to visit La Revo [Tijuanense slang for Avenida Revolución that crosses with Calle Sexta], and people started to open more bars at Calle Sexta.

Dive bars that serve beers sparked a movement of DJs, and now it’s crazy. From one bar in Calle Sexta now grew to become 60 bars! It’s a good thing. For one because now these bars [economically] help the streets of our city, and two Calle Sexta is now a cultural street where people want to go and grab a beer.

So what else is underway for you guys?

Bostich: We are working on our new album called Motel Baja. We’re currently full time working on it. It’ll be coming out early next year.

Isabela Raygoza

Isabela Raygoza is an indie music enthusiast who is on a lifelong search for discovering new sounds. She was born and raised in the borderlands of Tijuana/San Diego, and was exposed to a musical hybridity as a child working in flea markets and also impersonating Mexican pop artists as a kid in carnivals. Fast forward many years, she received her B.A. from UC Berkeley and M.A. from New York University. As a writer, music critic and musician, her works have appeared on MTV Iggy, Remezcla, VICE, NPR's KPCC, Latina Magazine, and Bitch Magazine.

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