Sounds of the City is a new series in which MEOKO grills some of our favourite DJs and producers about the ins and outs, their most treasured spots and the hidden gems of the city they call home.
Hector hails from Guadalajara in Mexico where he began DJing when he was 16. Since then, he has come a long way building up a strong career, having plied his trade working in the famous Phonica Records store in London. Through his job, he met important DJs and influential players in the industry which eventually led to him being introduced to none other than Loco Dice. Dice took a keen liking to Hector and took him under his wing subsequently welcoming him into the Desolat label family. MEOKO was extremely pleased to have the opportunity to chat to him all about his musical beginnings in his beloved Mexico. We also spoke of tequila, tacos and the meaning behind #vatoslocos…
Tell us a fun fact about your hometown in Mexico.
Guadalajara is located near a little town called Tequila, where the famous beverage of the same name is made!
How was the scene in Guadalajara and how did you get into music over there?
My friends were in bands and we’d always get together during the week. I was always listening to music hanging out with my friends at their rehearsals. There was also this connection with live music. I first got into electronic music when some guys from England came to study Spanish in Guadalajara. I was playing professional football at the time and one day they came to training and we eventually became friends. They started to introduce me to the Global Underground compilations, fabric mixes and artists like DJ Q, Terry Lee Brown Jr, The Time Writer, Daft Punk, Chemical Brothers. It was then that I began to have an interest in electronic music. After a year and a half, they returned to England and naturally encouraged me to come to London to see all the clubs and check out the scene because I never got to see many DJs in Guadalajara.
What was the attraction foryou in these foreign electronic sounds?
The compilations I listened to told a story by mixing tracks. This concept was new and exciting to me. How the DJs told this story through different kind of styles from old school house, acid house, all the different genres – it was all new to me. There was so much music to explore and so much to learn that it just grabbed my attention. It was just a massive library to get immersed in.
So you followed your English friends’ advice and made your next stop London?
Yeah, I moved to London initially for 3 months, but I ended up staying there for the next 11 years! My friend started studying Sound Engineering and Music Production. At the same time I was buying vinyl even before I had decks. The move to London eventually led me over to Ibiza where I started at the bottom by putting up posters and flyers, but through that you get to know all the right people and then they give you the first chance to DJ…So I started from zero. I always remember where I came from and how I started from handing out flyers.
What do you miss the most about Mexico?
My family and the food (laughs)!
What’s your favourite Mexican dish?
Ceviche is my favourite thing – it’s a dish made of fresh raw fish cured with citrus juices and additional seasonings. The seafood in Mexico is amazing because of the Pacific side we get so much fresh seafood. Guadalajara is in the middle of the country but quite close to the Pacific. You get a lot of different things in Mexico, very traditional stuff like tacos, enchiladas – traditional homemade food with tortillas…The most amazing thing are the spices! I’m getting hungry just talking about it.
Where’s the best place to get a taco?
If you want to have the best tacos, you have to get them from the street stands. Not like Tex-Mex americanised Mexican food – I never eat burritos, fajitas, none of those types of things. Real tacos are the street food; they are the best.
What is the best club in Guadalajara?
Bar Americas. There is a nice story behind that too. One year I had to leave London for family reasons and I brought my decks home with me. It was already a nice bar with a good soundsystem, but I managed to convince the owner to let me DJ there as part of a club night. It was a great success and within a few weeks there were long queues to get inside to see me play. The entrance is free and every Thursday is the international night. At first it was complicated to get big DJs since it was free, but eventually we had artists such as like Carl Craig, Marco Carola and a bunch of other big names performing at the club.
Where was your favourite hang out spot?
When I was 16, I was training for football all the time. I was actually a very good boy, I didn’t drink or anything like that. The nightlife culture is very different anyway in Mexico compared to Europe. It’s more of a bar vibe with live music rather than underground nightclubs. We don’t have anything like a fabric in London for instance!
Why is the clubbing culture less developed over there?
People don’t have the same access or resources that are available in big urban cities like London. Also equipment – the hardware is so expensive, it’s not easy to start up.
Could the scene change in the future?
Right now it’s amazing because people are beginning to get more access. There is a lot of good talent coming out of Mexico at the moment such as Pinto, Midnight Perverts, Louie Fresco, Miguel Puente, Robbie Akbal, Bastard Love, Balcazar & Sordo, Betoko, The Climbers, Metrika and also Harvard Bass.
BPM Festival in Playa del Carmen (Mexico) is one of the most successful festivals in South America – that’s the best example of everyone around the world coming to Mexico to party and putting attention on my home country.
Is there an essence in your music of Mexico? Some sort of influence from your time there in the city?
Yes, always – 100%. The titles of tracks, style of music, basslines, the latino influence is always there. It’s in my blood and a big part of my music.
If you could describe Guadalajara in one track (electronic/non-electronic)?
Well the Mariachi bands are from Guadalajara and surrounding regions, so I guess that is the most traditional sound you would hear.
So you grew up in Guadalajara, lived in London for a long time and now you live in Berlin. Granted Guadalajara is home, which are your second and third homes?
London is definitely my adopted second home. I moved there pretty young so by the end of my stay I was a qualified Londoner, eating English breakfast and Sunday roasts, watching Coronation St (laughs). The city is a big part of my life after 11 years of living there.
Compared to Berlin, I don’t even speak German which is not out of disrespect. The main problem is, I’m hardly there. Despite this problem, Berlin is where I’ve chosen to live, and build a studio. Also, my booking agency and management also moved there which is convenient since the office is only 5 minutes away from my apartment. Plus the airports are easy to get to so it’s convenient overall for me here in Berlin.
What’s your relationship with label Desolat like? I noticed a few other fellow South American artists on the roster like Guti. Do you share a sense of latino unity in Desolat?
Dice likes the latino influence which probably explains the South American artists on the label. I actually ran into Guti a few days ago in Ibiza, but he lives in Barcelona. Of course when we’re together we talk in Spanish and make all the Spanish jokes and banter.
Finally, and sticking with the Hispanic theme, what’s the story behind “Vatos Locos”?
It started off a long time ago with me, Dubfire and Dice. It comes from a film about the Chicano’s called ‘Blood In Blood Out’. It’s all about the Mexican Chicano gangs and they are known as the “Vatos Locos”. “Vato” is the same way to call someone “mate” or “bro” but it’s more slang used in the gangs. Then obviously because I’m Mexican – Dubfire and Dice would always call me and say, “Wassup vato?!” I really wanted to do something under the banner of Vatos Locos, but with their schedule it’s impossible. Then the catchphrase just stuck and went viral on social media earning its own hash tag. In Italy people turned up with the flag saying “vatos locos”. What began as a joke has now become something crazy!
Pre-order Hector’s vinyl-only The Daggers EP on Overall Records here. Released 30th October.
Hector plays fabric on 15th November. Buy tickets here.
Check out Hector’s MEOKO mix here.
By Geoffrey Chang