Superstition, lust, and questionable bargains

hazme el amor sn

If you ever pick up any sort of Spanish-written yellow press, you’ll seen them: ads which, for a nominal fee, promise to bring back an ex-lover or, better yet, lure your ultimate crush straight into your arms. The ads vary when it comes to their ostenticity; sometimes they’re just a few words in length, but others feature intricate fonts and pictures of brujos (witch doctors) fully dressed in glorious, campy outfits.

These days many conjurers circumvent their time-proven, self-promoting ways by taking advantage of technology. One woman accepts online payments for her tailored rituals — “amarres,” to use the parlance of the trade — which she later films, narrates, and uploads to YouTube. Is the economy collapsing? That crafty sorceress will never know.

Day of the Dead, La Santa Muerte, Jesús Malverde (narco saint) — most Mexicans are fascinated with the occult, and I’m not impervious to the influence. Actually, I can even pinpoint the first time I was dazzled by a group of surreal and malevolent characters. It happened during the big annual celebration of the Mexican town I grew up in, and I must have been 5-years-old.

Details are a little fuzzy, but at the end of a procession, the kind where town residents gather to revere one of Catholicism’s many saints, a group of men — all of them disguised as devils, much like the ones in the “Hazme el amor” video — aggressively chased after all the visible children. Many of the kids had been taunting the men and, while holding whips and sticks, the “diablitos” would strike any child they caught up with. Strangely parents didn’t seem to mind, and I even remember one of my foul-mouthed aunts issuing a stern warning: “If you fuck with them, they will hit you, cabrón.”

But I was a naughty child so of course I wanted to mock the man-devils. Though after seeing a couple of their victims balling their eyes out — specifically two loud schoolyard chums — I decided to keep my mouth shut. The bad seed, however, had been planted, and for days I fantasized about running around dressed in evil devil garb. (I never got the outfit right but, out of frustration, I do remember chasing my sister around the house with a plastic Thurdercat sword.)

In “Hazme el amor” I tried to explore certain aspects of superstition, lust and risk — so basically some of the intrinsic elements of amarres. I theorize that most people partake in the process because it’s thrilling to make a shady bargain with a questionable character (“there’s always free cheddar in the mousetrap, baby — it’s a deal,” says Tom Waits). And all is fair in love and war, right?

But what of the consequences? Well, there may be a bigger, non-monetary price to pay for rigging the romantic system (think eternal hellfire, starvation, or neverending playlist of The Eagles’ music). But whatever, we’ll just cross that bridge when we get there.


Drum machines have no soul, which is why I use them

 

Role-play, P3CULIAR’s debut LP, will be released on Tuesday, April 8th by Casete Records in Latin America & Europe, and Kin Kon Records in the US. Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, Google Play – you’ll be able to find it everywhere. A few of you may acquire a limited vinyl pressing (500 copies) if you participate in the pre-sale.

Let’s talk record production: I experimented a lot with pitch shifting, a process which raises or lowers the pitch of recorded audio, while writing most of the songs on Role-play. Since my original idea was to have certain guests – some male, some female – sing on the final tracks, I recorded most of the demos using my own manipulated vocals. But then these vocals, which were basically placeholders, charmed me; the odd quality of the effect gave the songs an interesting layer of artifice.

Many musicians, singers, and producers – especially analog purists – are absolutely horrified by the idea highly-processed audio. They would say it lacks “warmth,” or something along those lines, which is probably right. But some of the songs in Role-play have dark and sinister themes, so I wanted no warmth. While programming the sequences of these songs I though of an old-school goth friend and the hilarious bumper sticker he proudly placed on his car: “Drum machines have no soul.”

Songwriting is half storytelling, half acting. Composers often create a story – not always personal – then perform their tale as a protagonist or a narrator. I decided to call my debut Role-play because I pretend to be certain characters in my songs. Pitch shifting allows me to sound like them.  

Ah, but I know you won’t be able to live with yourself unless you hear my natural singing voice, so I left some vocals unprocessed (the verses on “Party Girl,” for example). Plus I did get a couple of guests to perform on the record: The young and talented rapper Cakes Da Killa (“Menea”), and the charismatic Sisely Treasure (“Start A Fight”). There’s ten songs on Role-play and they’re eclectic mix of funky pop, eerie cumbia, tropical rap, and dark electro. I co-produced the record along with Ulises Lozano (Kinky, Amandititita, Mexican Dubwiser), and will begin shooting a video for “Wicked” at the end of the month with the Vidi Vici TV crew.

And no, the picture above is not the record cover, but you will see it very soon.

Role-play tracklist:

  • 1. Hazme El Amor
  • 2. Wicked
  • 3. Menea Feat. Cakes Da Killa
  • 4. Start A Fight Feat. Sisely Treasure
  • 5. Look So Good
  • 6. Star
  • 7. Party Girl
  • 8. Walk Under The Moonlight
  • 9. Yo Te Amo, Te Amo
  • 10. The Well

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Listen to new song, “Yo te amo, te amo,” and help victims of Ingrid & Manuel

“Yo te amo, te amo,” a new song — which is actually a cover of a cover — was released yesterday on Acuérdate, a compilation whose moneys will be donated to the Mexican Red Cross in order to help the victims of Ingrid & Manuel.  Listen to the song below and, if you like it and wanna help out, purchase it — or better yet, purchase the entire 3 disc compilation — on iTunes.