Tijuana Cartel Interview
Photos by Mark Boskell
Words and Interview by Beth Wynne
Settlers Tavern. Fri 14 & Sat 15 Dec. Snappy Tom Tour.
This past weekend, Tijuana Cartel from the Gold Coast, were playing in Margs on Friday and Saturday night. I was lucky enough to see the shows, have an interview with the band, and I also got a few photos and a little review from Saturday nights gig.. Here’s how it all went down..
After seeing Tijuana Cartel make Settler’s Tavern come alive on Friday night, I was interested to have a chat to the band and learn about some of the ideas and influences that are behind them and the music they create.
I met up with Paul, the bands singer and guitarist and Carey the man behind the beats at Settler’s on Saturday Arvo before their second Margs show that night..
They were sat outside on the veranda, there’s such a cool vibe there I can understand why bands enjoy playing the venue so much. We introduced ourselves, I explained this was my first interview so I was slightly nervous but we had a little chat, the guys were nice and relaxed, so I set up my recorder and the questions began!
B: I thought I’d start from the beginning with the idea of ‘Tijuana Cartel’, how did it come about?
P: We’ll start with the name, we were playing for a little bit and had kind of a Flamenco/Mexican kind of vibe and I was watching a movie called.. shit what was it called.. oh, Human Traffic. That’s the name of a movie, so anyway there was a gang in that called the Tijuana Cartel so we thought we’d use that.. And the band, I’ve been playing with Carey and writing material since we were about 12 years old, for some reason we’ve always had interest in both electronic and world music so we’ve bended the two over the years.
B: Yeah there’s a pretty cool mix of genres and cultures… Where do the different influences come from, with the guitar, drumming and electronic feel, do each of you bring a different element in?
P: Definitely, I’m really into my Spanish guitar, and even played Sitar for a while, Carey’s really into his electronic style, you know big frat beats that kind of thing, also our percussionist, he’s from South America so he brings the kind of instrument side to it, so everyone has different understandings of what they like so we sort of mixed it together.
B: With all those different genres, do you have an idea of the music you wanna create or does it come together when you play?
P: These days its changed, usually it sort of comes together as we’re playing, then as time went on we decided that we knew we kinda had to have a direction for it, so we tried to mould it into a similar sort of sound, or songs that have a common link in them. Which has been really hard to be honest, cos we’re a bit ADD when it comes to it. We wanna write a reggae song, next day we wanna write a rock song kinda thing, so its been hard to nail it into one thing..
B: So touring Regionally, what do you think about reaching out to Regional places and do you think its important for Artists and Bands to tour the Regional circuit?
P: I think so in the way to spread Australian music culture, travel to as many places as you can, get a seed growing in that sense, and we just wanna play to people really, its cool in that way.
B: Do you find audiences are interested in these areas?
P: Yeah, there’s been occasional gigs where sometimes we’ll play a mining town, and we think we’re gonna get killed at the end of it or people are gonna throw beer bottles cos we’re playing weird world music but I think wherever we play people seem to like it.
B: I see you did some recording in Bali, it’s a different approach… How did it compare to your normal studio time in a city for example?
P: Yeah totally, it was just a bit of fun really. We had a friend who has a retreat right in the mountains in the back of Bali, so we brought our equipment up there and set up recording. Their traditional music’s called Gamalan. So he had all these Gamalan instruments laying around so we used a lot of them for the tracks. It’s funny cos now we got sorta Spanish Guitar, South American Percussion, Electronic Beats and even Indonesian influences. So it was fun, and a cheap way to do it for us.
B: The Snappy Tom video clip, it’s pretty different, was there an idea behind it or did it sort of just happen?
P: Yeah, we really wanted to go and get something interesting for the video clip, we knew we wanted animation so we started having a look around and the guys that did that, it’s two guys, a thing called ‘Weather House’ and they did like Gotye’s animation and a few other bands we like so we thought we’d try a bit of that. We kinda just said ‘go for it’, we weren’t sure what we’d get back and they really did go for it, it’s weird… how would you explain it?’ Paul asks, turning to Carey.
C: It’s basically organisms within organisms within organisms, they kinda came up with some ideas and pitched it to us and we said that’s pretty cool, just go with that and it turned out really cool.
B: So Live Performance, from my experience seeing you guys there’s always been a really strong live performance and vibe, how do you ensure that each time?
C: We drink lots of Tequila!
P: Nah we’re so passionate about what we do I think that sorta translates into it, we’re trying to drink less these days.. The way it is at the moment, we have a real definite goal that we’re trying to aim for, so its always like a party vibe but at the same time we make sure we deliver it. But yeah its good to hear that you think we constantly do it and people always say we deliver a good show, which is great. There has been occasions where is hasn’t worked in our favour so yeah, its not perfect!
B: Offer Yourself, the new single.. How has that been received so far? It’s a little more chilled than your other tracks?
P: Yeah ‘Offer Yourself’ is kinda in between, we’ve been doing some work with a guy called Scott Horsecroft who’s a producer we liked, so that was the first thing we did with him so we kinda released it to gage the response and see how we were feeling about it. Its very much more an underground thing, cos it probably is more about party beats and people dancing whereas that ones more about tripping out.. it was fun and we keep just wanting to try new things I guess.
B: Just one more, what’s next on the horizon for Tijuana Cartel? New album?
P: Yeah we’re hoping to have a new album, but not till about September next year, we wanna spend a lot of time trying to get it right, and we also wanna do an overseas tour next year so Canada, the US and some of Europe
B: Have you done that before?
P: We’ve done Europe, we did it last year and that was good, that was our first run but it was enough to sort of make us wanna go back. We haven’t done America or Canada before.
B: Do you know if you have any fans in those areas?
P: Yeah we have some Facebook Fans, not a lot but maybe enough to play a pub somewhere I guess..
With that, I let Paul and Carey know that was all I had, and asked them if it was ok. They let me know I did well for a first go which was great to hear! So there you go, that’s my Q and A with Tijuana Cartel which I found really interesting, hopefully if you’re reading this you feel the same and you enjoyed this little insight…
For more of Beth’s work visit her blog, Songbird – The Music In Margs, and follow her on facebook.