Up until just a couple years ago, the international electronic dance music radar wasn't picking up much more than crickets across the border in Mexico. But now our neighbors to the south are all over the dance music charts and global party circuit. Sensational newcomers like Balcazar & Sordo, Miguel Puente, Climbers, and Louie Fresco are all putting their native Mexico on the EDM map.
Another Mexican up-and-comer with some especially serious production chops is Guadalajara's The Midnight Perverts -- really just one dude, also known as Romeo Ugalde. His darkly sexed-up tech-funk productions have already landed him releases on heavyweight imprints like Get Physical and Akbal Music. But it's his own Nëim Records making the most waves, with an auspicious, growing catalog that champions some of Mexico's unsung heroes of underground house and techno.
Crossfade caught up with The Midnight Perverts ahead of his headlining performance for Friday's Notes From the Underground party at the FDR Lounge at the Delano Hotel. We chatted about Mexico's EDM explosion, the local scene, and the future of Nëim Records.
Crossfade: How did growing up in Guadalajara shape you as an artist? Is there a solid electronic dance music scene there? Or did you have to look to other cities for influence and inspiration?
The Midnight Perverts: Well, at the beginning of the electronic scene in Guadalajara, in the early '90s, there was some parties called "danceterias" where house and techno was played. Unlucky for me, I couldn't get in to most of them because I was young, looked younger, and didn't really know anybody. Later, I started searching for music, and that's when I knew about Orbital, 808 State and such. Guadalajara has a big scene -- in Mexico, it's the second biggest, of course Mexico City being number one. There are some fine artists that are considered local legends, but I've always been in the search of new sounds, so searching music and artists of different parts of the world is a must.
So do you think your sound is purely influenced by electronic dance music from the U.S. and Europe, or are there any influences you would consider native to Mexico? What are your thoughts on homegrown Mexican electronic music styles like "tribal" and the pointy boots scene?
Well, I think I'm influenced by everything in life: music, people. My very own mood gets me working on tunes in many different ways. If you check my music, most of the tracks don't even sound the same, like many other artists' do. I like to develop a new sound in each tune. I like to create its own history. Tribal, well, it's a different sound. I respect that, but lately it has been cataloged like a major thing in Mexico, and some people actually think that all the people are into that, using the boots and stuff. Of course, many of us don't like that kind of music nor the boots.
In just a couple years, Mexico has become a major exporter of hot underground house music, with acts like Balcazar & Sordo, Miguel Puente, Climbers, and Louie Fresco getting major international hype and topping the charts. What do you think brought on this explosion?
Well, I'm glad to say that Balcazar has been a major influence on me -- actually, he was the one that showed me how to use Reason in my early days, to create my very first tracks. Also, he is one-third founder of Nëim Records, and he does all the mastering for the label. I'm happy for all our friends that are going strong at the moment. There are other artists, like Luis Flores (an amazing techno live act), Robbie (owner of Akbal Records), Pinto (co-founder of Nëim and amazing DJ) and many more. Miguel Puente, Louie Fresco, and Climbers are just the tip of the iceberg. There has always been music in Mexico -- I think it was about time the world focused on the Mexicans. Also, I think the BPM Festival helped people to wonder what's going in here.
So what's the concept behind your Nëim label? Where do you plan to take the label in the near future? Any forthcoming artist signings or releases we can expect?
At Nëim, we try to respect the underground, and most of the artists are practically new to the world. We don't look for big names for the label, we look for good music -- doesn't matter how big the artist is, if we don't like the music, we don't release it. Also, we are very supportive of the Mexican crew. We are very strict on the quality of music, but we always give a chance for new artists to shine. There are some great EPs coming out from Amine Edge & DANCE, DJ Glen, Flavio Acaron & Hugh Harry, Balcazar, Cesar Coronado & Mario Armanino, and also a mixed compilation celebrating 4 years of the label. Actually, we already have a full calendar for the rest of the year.
Do you plan to remain in Guadalajara permanently, or would you relocate to a bigger dance music capital in the U.S. or Europe if demand grows?
Actually my partner and I where talking about that the other day. We think we already did what we had to in Guadalajara, and it's time to move on and grow bigger as an artist and as a label. We are considering moving to Europe. We don't think that U.S.A. has a stable scene -- festivals are great, but the smaller scene where we fit doesn't seem to be that good, so Europe would be the perfect spot for us to grow.
What's next for Midnight Perverts on the production front?
I've finally decided that my music is good enough to release an EP on my own label. I'm currently working with Gia Mellish, she is an amazing singer from Amsterdam. I have been working on some tracks with my Nëim crew: Balcazar, Pinto, Cesar Coronado & Mysaell. Also I'm working on an EP for Get Physical, and one more EP for Dame Music, Bloody Mary's label. This year, I will focus more on originals -- last year I did a lot of remixes and released like three originals, this year I will do the total opposite.
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So what can Miami expect during Friday's set at Notes From The Underground?
As a DJ, I try to reinvent myself every time I go back to a city, I've been in Miami before and I would like people to notice that I'm not your average DJ. I always try to be upfront in music. Actually, some people tell me that I don't go with the trend, I try to go parallel to what is going on in the world, but not on what is trendy. So, you can expect a house-influenced set with tons of tracks you haven't heard before.
The Midnight Perverts. With Alejandro Sab and Andrew Ward. As part of Notes From the Underground. Friday, July 19. FDR Lounge at the Delano Hotel, 1685 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. The party starts at 11 p.m. Call 305-672-2000 or visit delano-hotel.com.