Musical Malinchismo

Partly due to frugality and partly due to a fascination with curation the majority of my music consumption these days isn’t via singles or albums but, rather, through mixes for various publications and radio stations. Of those I prefer the mixes that exhibit broader worldly tastes beyond the narrow confines of London, Berlin, or some other electronic music nexus. It’s why Radar Radio’s BBC AZN Network was probably my favourite program of 2015. But even amongst that variety those mixes are still dominated by trends and fads. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard Ghanian musician Guru’s Alkayida in such mixes this year. Or maybe I need to listen to more varied mixes?

One such trend that stood out to me this past year, and particularly amongst the Fade to Mind crew, is the greater prevalence of latino music. Even amongst some of the larger electronic music publications there’s been a strong recognition of the scene coming out of Latin America and especially Mexico. I’m rather biased, but it’s a welcome regard: there’s so much talent there.

Boiler Room had a good spotlight feature on the scene in Mexico City: Stay True Mexico (and later Mexico City: Inspiration in the Noise as part of a collaborative series with Mutek Mexico). Resident Advisor also had a, frankly better, documentary about the same thing: Real Scenes: Mexico City. And just recently DIS Magazine had a long write up about the NAAFI crew, Mexican tribal music, and Mexican identity. The NAAFI crew has a regular show on London’s NTS Radio.

And as I write this, Fader Magazine joined the crowd with a feature on Mexico City, Paul Marmotta, and NAAFI, calling it one of the most exciting electronic music scenes in the world.

Despite the hype associated with the region there’s an internal lack of confidence about it. The one thread that connects a lot of the above links together is this concept of Malinchismo. The Resident Advisor documentary explains it best, but it’s this idea that favours foreign things at the expense of the local. Beyond mere preference it shows itself often as a lack of confidence towards ones own, or one’s own local, talent and culture. “It’s better in Europe”, it says. “It’s better in New York.”

I might be speaking from the perspective of a guerro, but I can say with certainty that it’s a lot of nonsense brought about by history, cultural imperialism and marketing. My hope is that as the scene becomes stronger and with more international clout that this malinchismo, at least for contemporary electronic music, can die for good. There’s a lot of talent in Mexico and we’re all poorer for not having it played, and for that I’m thankful for NTS and Fade to Mind and all those other musicians not constrained by regionality pushing for it.

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