Mex Mavericks Fuse TJ & Techno to Fire Up 'Loft-off""

    If you’re scoping out the year’s next hipster magnet, point those Frye boots to the the Loft, a brand-spanking-new nightclub in the Price Center expansion — complete with gallery lighting, a retro-chic iTunes jukebox and tapas all around. Its kick-off (er, “Loft-Off”) catchphrase gives fair warning: Students, “prepare to be lifted.”

    Whether that’s a spiritual caveat or a means of escape from the pits of social deficit, the lounge space certainly holds promise for those craving culture-shock therapy — or maybe just the occasional wine tasting.

    The Loft-Off festival will highlight the first of what will (hopefully) spur a much-needed tradition of campus cool, with live performances ranging from Bay Area indie-rockers Rogue Wave to the sultry boho cabaret of Vagabond Opera. Also on the bill are selections from this year’s San Diego Asian Film Festival, and oddball improv from the Upright Citizens Brigade comedy troupe.

    We were fortunate enough to long-distance dial Pepe Mogt of Nortec Collective, The Loft’s premiering headliner. Named for its fusion of norteño folk and traditional techno, the collective shares a passion for enlightening clubs worldwide with their musical snapshots of Tijuana flavor. And judging from Nortec’s performance at San Diego’s Street Scene, the team of musicians, producers, and graphic designers will likely inspire us kids to dance like we were border-hopping.

    GUARDIAN: How have Mexican audiences responded to nortec as a representation of Tijuana’s cultural fusion, and how has it been received worldwide?

    NORTEC COLLECTIVE: We’ve been working with [each other] for nine years, playing everywhere in Mexico — from small clubs to huge Mexico City venues with 40,000 people. It started in Tijuana, where the collective was very huge, and people understood the fusion that we were doing. Nortec is stranger in Europe, where they thought we were doing mariachi music. But we spent 50 days there layering different live elements and … graphics, and they started to understand what nortec was all about.
    It’s very strange to go to Morocco or Turkey or the United States, to bring Tijuana to those venues … in video and texture, to show the border influence, blending all these sounds so people can listen to our music and dance to our music and experience Tijuana as we do. The graphic elements are just as important; only a few tracks [from our albums] have lyrics, but we speak to the people through graphics, communicating what we think of being Tijuana residents.

    G: What is it about Tijuana’s border culture that provides such an inspiration for you?

    NC: We were doing electronic music before, and we were very influenced by the United States and Europe. Before nortec it sounded like we were an electronic band from Europe or the United States — but when we started blending this sound from the border, we started to put all these cultural stamps on our music. Then, a lot of artists from Tijuana like painters, graphic designers and art installers — started to take notice, and the collective was born. They were reflecting Tijuana and beyond.
    And we have a means to do that. Tijuana is a very new city that doesn’t have its own culture at all. More than half of the people living in Tijuana are not from Tijuana; they were born in other states and Mexico and … brought all this culture from their own places of origin. The American culture is also very present here.
    Nortec Collective grabs from these experiences and builds something [in which] people can recognize Tijuana. Finally we have something that can sound like the border.

    G: Tijuana Sessions 3 (your latest work) earned mass critical acclaim, including a Latin Grammy nomination. Did you ever anticipate this level of success when making your first nortec mixes?

    NC: In our goals, we never think about the Grammys. It’s good that they nominated us — but it’s nothing that we were looking for. Maybe for us, it’s like, all right that the industry at that level has already noticed nortec, but we never wanted a Grammy.

    G: What electronica artists have influenced the Nortec Collective?

    NC: It depends what we are listening to at the moment. A lot of the music is norteño; the techno side of nortec has been influenced by music from the United States and Europe. Sometimes new bands have influenced us, but mostly bands from the ’80s and even ’60s. Maybe it sounds strange, but we are influenced by, like, the Moody Blues. Does it have anything to do with electronic music? Maybe not. But we are influenced by New Order, and other rock music. [We aren’t influenced by] a specific band — there are too many things going on, too many bands to mention all of them.

    Students can check out the weeklong Loft-off lineup starting Sept. 25 at http://theloft.ucsd.edu.

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