Cultura Dura is a Remezcla and Mike’s HARDER content and event series highlighting emerging Latin urban culture. We’ll be exploring scenes that haven’t really gotten any coverage anywhere else – from block parties and street art to underground sports and raw, young artists making movements pa’ la calle.
In little over half a decade, NAAFI has solidified itself as one of the names at the forefront of Mexico’s electronic music circles. The club night/crew/label has become almost synonymous with Mexico City’s thriving electronic underground, thanks in no small part to their legendary series of parties, which have showcased eminent talents in dance music both domestically and abroad. They’ve also meticulously crafted an brand aesthetic that extends far beyond the music and parties, and encompasses both their artwork and apparel line.
These days you’re more likely to hear about their efforts as a music label, which is comprised of a tightly knit roster that includes acts as diverse as Siete Catorce, Paul Marmota, Lao, and DJ Smurphy. All of these acts have all built their names under the auspices of the NAAFI flag, a fact which has further solidified the label’s reputation as a purveyor of only the finest electronic music in Mexico.
I spoke to label honcho Tomás Davo (a.k.a. Fausto Bahía), who provided a bit of insight into the inner workings of the label, as well as some of their short and long-term activities, including their latest release by State of Mexico-hailing producer OMAAR, and their upcoming beachside rave, Club de Playa.
Tell me a little bit about your most recent releases.
Well, #Geminiss [by DJ Smurphy] came out a month ago. We’re about to release NAAFI Tribal, which is a project that we’re doing alongside Centro de Cultura Digital (Center For Digital Culture). It’s a triple album with mixes by DJ Tetris, Javier Estrada, and Alan Rosales. We’re presenting it on December 4th.
Then there’s NO!, an EP by OMAAR, a producer from the State of Mexico–which is the first in our digital line, containing four original tracks and a remix by Massacooramaan. With this we close off 2014 and 2015 is coming on strong! There’s two more releases coming up in our digital line by Imaabs and Dinamarca. We’re also releasing stuff by Mock The Zuma, Füete Billete, and Zutzut, as part of our physical catalog. There’s other stuff on the way too.
What is your selection process like when signing new artists?
We like to meet the artist and see if we share an affinity, both musically and otherwise. Putting out music is very taxing business, and truthfully we prefer working with friends and people who appreciate what we do, as opposed to putting out random music from strangers who we may not even click with.
“It’s the fans who are the ones looking for and consuming our music, despite our lack of media exposure outside of Mexico.”
As far as the labor that goes into putting out the music, how is it that you delegate roles within the label?
Our roles have come about organically as we’ve realized our individual talents. On the basis of that, everyone’s chosen their work. Alberto [Mexican Jihad] does the Art Direction. [Paul] Marmota helps us with the musical direction. I’m the administrator and also the face of the label.
What are some of your goals as a label?
For me it’s to keep releasing material by the NAAFI roster, experimenting with different formats and ways to put out music. I’d like for each release to strengthen both the artist and the label. I like that the few releases we’ve put out don’t necessarily sound the same. That’s enjoyable because I’m not listening to club music all day.
What has been the response to your music outside of Mexico?
It’s always bigger domestically than abroad. The interesting thing about our foreign crowd is that it’s the fans who are the ones looking for and consuming our music, despite our lack of media exposure outside of Mexico.
Aside from your work as a label, you’ve built a name around throwing really good parties. How have you been evolving in this respect?
We still have the same ideas about what a NAAFI party should be. I think that by now they are more like living entities in Mexico City, and people are willing to experiment with new acts and music that doesn’t necessarily sound the same as what we’ve previously showcased.
Can you tell me a little bit about Club de Playa NAAFI?
We’ve been working on Club de Playa for almost a year now. We wanted to start a new project, to do something different that would keep the soul of NAAFI alive. We had this idea of inviting our crew and some friends and everyone that wanted to join us in a more relaxed and casual environment were you can mingle in the sand, eat, take in the sun while dancing, drinking, and maybe hooking up.
People seem to be very excited about it and we have people from all over the world coming to be with us, in addition to all the local people that will be assisting. The city of Puerto Escondido is very excited and that’s important for us, that the locals also enjoy the party.
What do you have in store for 2015?
More of the same, only better =)