Nortec Makes Me Happy

Photo courtesy of Nacional Records

If you haven’t heard Nortec Collective Bostich + Fussible‘s (Nortec Collective) music yet, it is time to adjust the dial on your internal soundtrack of the Mexican borderlands. This is not your papi’s norteño. Nortec is based on the unmistakable banda, tambora, norteño sounds common to northern Mexico. They build on these traditions and mix it with electronica to create music that crosses cultural boundaries, producing a sound that is as just as norteño as it is techno (Nor+tec).

Photo courtesy of Nacional Records

Nortec Collective began in late 1990s when Ramón Amezcua (aka Bostich) founded the record label Mil Records,with Pepe Mogt (Fussible). Members of the collective have gone on to produce various musical projects under the names Clorofila, Hiboreal, Bostich and Fussible. Some of their earlier works brought together their electronic dance grooves with a musical identity firmly rooted in Tijuana. Their tune Tijuana Makes Me Happy begins with “Some people call it the happiest place on earth,” captures their essential idea of honoring their hometown.

Nortec‘s 2010 Grammy nominated album, Bulevar 2000 (Nacional Records) builds a longer bridge across the border. The album is lyrically stronger than previous works and one gets the sense that they are narrating a journey. The title track, Bulevar 2000 is haunting and enchanting where the tuba sounds like a heart-beat while driving along a highway trying to forget your lost love. It is “not a love song,” but it really is. Many of the lyrics on Bulevar are in English, including Centinela, which tells the story of star-crossed lovers that can only meet once a year on Día de Los Muertos. Nortec also teamed up with San Francisco based Loquat on the track I Count the Ways.

A Nortec Collective Bostich + Fussible show is a multi-sensory event and offers the best avenue to experience their distinct intersection of the contemporary and traditional Mexican music. On stage, DJs Bostich + Fussible are accompanied by musicians playing the sousaphone (tuba), accordion and trumpet. Their self-created DJ station has a futuristic 1960s look to it and the duo alternates between iPads and Tenori-on (a tablet of LED switches that create sounds). They complete their illustrated soundscape by projecting color-rich images of Tijuana behind the stage. Watching Nortec, you get the sense that they are creating music not only for their audience, but with their audience, as the relationship between the musicians, the sound, images and lights work in tandem to raise the energy of the crowd to a dancing frenzy.

Nortec have been outspoken critics of internet censorship. You can get many of their remixes free on SoundCloud, where they reached a million downloads of their tracks by the beginning of February 2012.

If you never thought you would be getting down to norteño and electronica, now is the time to try it. Nortec Collective Bostich + Fussible are performing at the New Parish in Oakland, Calif. on March 13th.

¡No te lo pierdas! 

Written by Michelle Siprut