The sixth edition of Festival Marvin starts today in Mexico City, and it presents three full days of talks, stand up comedy, and of course, a lot of music. The fest will take over a slew of venues in the neighborhoods of Condesa-Roma and feature some marquee international figures, established names in the Mexican rock pantheon, and new Latin American talent. But the bulk of the festival is given to newer artists from across the country. Marvin has distinguished itself by booking bands from emerging scenes others won’t touch, and that’s where some of the most exciting sounds are developing. We talked to a few acts to see what they had to say about the festival and their respective corners of the music industry.
“Even though it’s very disperse, the scene is freeing itself from stigmas that have hurt it for years,” says Kique Jiménez, singer and guitarist of Car Crash Sisters. The Aguascalientes band has based their sound on 90s alt rock and isn’t afraid of dissonant chords or melodic choruses, as heard on their record The Crystal Garden, released last year. Jiménez continues, “[There’s] dumb stuff like getting called malinchista for singing in English or not playing with mariachis or pre-Hispanic instruments.”
Still, the underground scene is not without its obstacles. “Because I’m in a band, I know a lot of [the other acts], but other people have asked me “Who are they?” And those were similar to some of the comments I read when the lineup was revealed. “They must know them at home!” adds Car Crash Sisters guitarist Alma Salcedo. “It’s great that Marvin decided to turn and get some independent bands, because that’s not something you usually see in festivals of that scope.”
“[The scene is] vast. It’s generating venues where all these projects can have a place,” says Polo Vega, who records under the Trillones alias. “Even though I’m part of it and try to keep up to date, I’m sure I don’t know 60 percent of the things out there and I’m sure there’s a ton that’s really wonderful that I haven’t yet had the pleasure of listening to. It’s impossible to cover everything. That would be utopian; not one festival can do it, but Marvin made a great effort.”
“Even though it’s very disperse, the scene is freeing itself from stigmas that have hurt it for years.”
From his post in Mexicali, Trillones has released two well-received EPs, a critically acclaimed album (2015’s El Tiempo Es Circular) and various collaborations with his unique combination of heady techno and swirling dream pop.
Although much has been accomplished, there’s no finish line to cross. About the scene, Puebla’s Los Sex Sex Sex vocalist and guitarist Yea Speed says, “It’s great, but it’s just starting up; we can’t forget that. Marvin is just a step and hopefully more people will get hyped to keep up with their projects or try to do something different than what you see in this year’s lineup. They should know that making it is not impossible.”
“It was difficult to get gigs outside our city,” says Salcedo. “That’s a chance we didn’t get with our other bands. I’m glad people are taking into the account the music more than where you hail from.” At the same time, Festival Marvin and other similar efforts have been instrumental into rethinking the scene. Vega says, “How the scene has grown – it demonstrates that there are no important cities. Every corner of this beautiful and beaten up country is capable of giving us great surprises.”
For many of these bands, Marvin represents a chance to show their stuff to unsuspecting audiences. “It’s a great opportunity to make friends. We hope to put on a great show and sweat some rock ‘n’ roll with all the energy we have been saving for the day.” Indeed, Sex Sex Sex’s simple yet powerful take on manic punk rock will yield plenty of frenetic moments, something their great Crisis EP only hints at. “Everybody has their own idea of what music and rock ‘n’ roll should be. It’s a great opportunity to hear different perspectives. Mexico is pretty varied, it can’t be defined by one or two bands.”
“Every corner of this beautiful and beaten up country is capable of giving us great surprises.”
Festival Marvin is a big showcase, and having a good section of underground talent surely has its advantages. Yet it remains to be seen if the festival is trying to break this band or if it reflects the state of the music scene at the moment. All three bands agree that it’s a combination of both. “Some bands have had to work hard to be noticed,” says Speed, “But at the same time I like to think there are artists that are [still emerging] and they’re looking at what’s happening – festivals, records, tours, designs, concepts – to see where to take their project.”
Salcedo adds, “Fortunately, there are a ton of blogs, collectives, and people that are helping without trying to take advantage of anyone.” Or as Polo eloquently puts it, “It’s like a closed circuit with each part feeding back into the other.”