I discovered the music of Nahuatl Soundsystem while searching for dub and electronic on Bandcamp.com a couple of years ago. So it’s great to finally talk with Mexico-born, Melbourne-based musician, Fernando Perez Gomez aka Nahuatl Jaguar, the central visionary of Nahuatl Soundsystem, and hear the stories behind the music that reconnect historic civilizations and channel their energy through today’s musical technology. Enjoy the interview and music of Nahuatl Jaguar of Nahuatl Soundsystem.
JW: Fernando, I’ve read that you were born in Mexico, but raised in Australia. Is that right? Talk to me about your musical background, as well as the cultural identity of Nahuatl represented in your music.
FPG: I was born and raised in Mexico City. Mexico is a place where there is a very big mixture and clash in a lot of aspects, musical, socially, culturally, economically, which when growing up made me had a broader perspective of the different situations of people, and how in Mexico particularly the culture even though there’s a lot of it, and a lot of traditions are kept, there’s a very dark aspect about it, specifically with the indigenous understanding and our cultural roots, which are of course a lot of parts of our ancestors – the Aztec and Mayans. To talk about this and in a way to preserve our cultural identity one needs to find a communication element, which in this case is Sound. Nahuatl per se, means sound, but it’s also of course a way of communication. And music and sound are very powerful communication elements.
My musical background is filled up with noisy music, love music, space music, anger music, spirit music, music to dance, protest music, folkloric music, unity music, 8-bit music, resistance music, powerful music, sad and happy, fast and slow; to mention some.
JW: Is there are particular movement that is happening in Australia that your music is responding to or is it a response to a solitary awakening?
FPG: I have been here (in Australia) for the past 7 years on and off. Over here there’s even a more noticeable clash between the indigenous and roots culture which is the aboriginal people. This makes me think how important and how respectful one must be towards the roots, and specially the spiritual guidance which are of course of the most ancestral people.
Nahuatl Soundsystem represents, a culture which sees the struggle of the people, not a specific group, but in a world way – it’s about a resistance and a change movement that has emerged. I see it as a cultural, conscious movement which has already taken off not only by the projects I produce, but a whole lot of eclectic talent out there and around the world.
JW: How did you connect with guitarist, Ohuican?
FPG: I connected with Ohuican when we were much younger, in school in Mexico City. Back then I was feeling pretty rejected, and I found him and a group of amazing people who helped me reconnect. He was the first person that I knew closely which had a hardcore band, they sounded powerful and great. For our crossover project ‘OHUICAN JAGUAR’ we actually re-connected after not really being in touch for a while, this happened while I was here in Australia. Then we would talk about production techniques, sound, music in general and then decided to start working on a project together, we would send each other recorded material, programmed drums, beats, sounds, effects and technology to support each other on each track. He is a great musician (guitarist) and music producer, and I’m also a music producer and a bass player (originally). We decided to release it on our new music label AZTEK ELECTRONIC MUSIC because this was already taking off here in Melbourne, with musical events around the city and festivals. So it was the next step to start involving all the collective effort and different musicians and producers, to release in this label.
JW: What would you suggest as a primer for people who want to understand Nahuatl culture and art?
FPG: To start with I would like to promote our recordings: Nahuatl Soundsystem (website) and Aztek Electronic Music label (website). Bookwise, there are a lot of books out there on Toltec culture from Miguel Ruiz (4 agreements), also on the Tonal and Nagual with Carlos Castaneda’s books. And readings on Aztec and Mayan mythology. The Popol-Vuh is also an important one.
For Nahuatl art specifically the Wixarika people (Huicholes) create amazing artwork and all the Zapatista communities in Chiapas, they are such a great inspiration for a world that accepts all worlds. All this you can see it closely in Mexico, of course – but not limited to.
JW: What’s your newest equipment/software? What your’s favorite equipment/software?
FPG: The equipment I am using is an APC40, MPKmini, Launchpad, a Macbook pro running Mac OSX Lion and Ableton Live 9.
JW: How often do you play live outside of Australia, and do you have North American shows planned
FPG: I have played outside of Australia in Mexico just before the end of 2012 – Ometeotl festival, I also did a show with amazing visual artists in Mexico city (fifty24MX gallery) – Deniol Alva, Curiot, Okuda and some others. I haven’t had the opportunity to play a show in the U.S. yet.
JW: Everybody needs a recharge and artists especially so. What your favorite activity to clear your head and gain fresh inspiration?
FPG: My activities to refresh are to go see visual art, which inspires me a lot, sightseeing and finding amazing places in nature to go swim, climb and explore, travelling different places is also very refreshing, going to music festivals, going to my friends music shows, recording talented musicians. I also enjoy playing quality independent video games and reading.
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