Discwoman’s Mexico City Collaborator on Using Digital Culture to Tell Women’s Stories

As you might have read in our preview of the Mexico City-based talent holding down this weekend’s Discwoman festival, there’s plenty to look forward to for a paradigm-shifting time.

Arriving at a weekend-long festival is no small task, however. Whether it’s locking in venues, coordinating with sponsors and partnerships, developing a visual identity, or tracking down the coveted after party suggestions, the path to a neatly-prepared event involves months of hard work and behind-the-scenes preparation to make it all happen.

On the ground in DF, the Discwoman team has collaborated closely with Lucia Anaya, whose creative agency Derré Tidá focuses on projects promoting and innovating independent music culture in the city and beyond.

Here Anaya explains some of the formative moments and projects that have led her to develop somewhat of a spider sense for what will generate innovative programming and long-lasting digital cultural artifacts. Lucia takes us through her approach to experiencing “firsts” in her projects, whether it be garage raves, data visualizations of women in Latin American music, song-based histories of sacred plants, or the feeling of scratching the surface of the wealth of female talent in Mexico through this weekend’s Discwoman collaboration.

You have your hands on so many projects, how did this all start for you?
Seven years ago, I started being involved in music, when I started doing some parties here in Roma in a garage with Jerónimo [Jiménez] aka Ñaka Ñaka. It was more like an experiential party because we did installations – there [were] a lot of fog and lasers, and we had friends play. We started doing small parties in 25 x 25-meter rooms, then I started out on my own and I opened a [theater called] Cine Tonalá with other partners. I started programming there, but it was more performance-oriented and electronic at the same time – acts like Geneva Jacuzzi, stuff like that.

“In Mexico, there is a lack of awareness about women in music. It’s kind of invisible.”

I’ve always experienced “first times.” First time programming [films] at a [theater], first time doing light installations, first time doing Boiler Room, first time doing a show with Grimes, first time doing Discwoman. Sometimes I think, “Why am I always starting all over?” At the end of the day, I think that I get to know people and friends that are doing very interesting stuff, so I get to do very fresh things. I’ve never done it thinking about how big it can be, or how many people are going to come. It’s more about collaborating with people from other parts of the world, and locals, and making it happen.

How do you identify a project you want to take on? Has that become a sixth sense for you?
It happens accidentally, I really don’t plan it. I have some stuff I want to do in my mind, but it can happen or it cannot happen [laughs].

Why do you think it’s an opportune time to bring Discwoman in Mexico?
I think in Mexico there is a lack of awareness about women in music. It’s kind of invisible. Maybe worldwide, in Berlin or in New York, the perception is different. You see a movement, you can feel it. And here I think this is a very nice start, a kick-off of doing things on our own as Latin American promoters, female producers, whatever. And yes, people are really excited about it here. I think it’s something that really surprised people and created an awareness of how many women we can have in this city.

For the women that are out there producing and performing, do you feel that they’re integrated into the scene?
The women that are playing [this weekend] are very new in the scene, like Nina[sonik] and Demian [Licht]. People like Paulina [EsaMiPau!] and Puma, they are more of the old school, so it’s kind of a mix. With the festival, both Discwoman and me have been getting messages from other girls that are interested and want to participate somehow, or they want to learn. So this is the tip of the iceberg – something that is hidden but needs to be discovered.

How do you see this project evolving after this weekend?
I talked with Paulina and some of the other girls to make something that is more focused on women in Latin America, so we are going to start a project called MuchaMuchacha. We’re still working on the concept, but the basic idea is to do an open, crowd-sourced data visualization that can stay on the Internet forever and can analyze the behavior and evolution of women in music in Latin America. To tell the stories, to tell them through the Internet in a way that is very natural and participatory.

“This is the tip of the iceberg – something that is hidden but needs to be discovered.”

Tell me about the project you’re working on in Oaxaca, which is a different take on this approach to history and creative storytelling.
A year ago I met a guy called Iván García. He runs a recording studio in the city of Oaxaca right in the downtown area. He’s been there since for about five years, and he wanted to [create] a record label focused on traditional music. I [knew nothing about] traditional music, so it’s been a year of discovering, and working on the strategy and the creative side of what we’re going to do.

The model of the record label nowadays is not about selling records, so we started working with the [National Commission for the Development of Indigenous Peoples], and we’re doing a series focusing on community radios around the region. [We’ll be] looking at the music of each community, analyzing who’s there, who’s playing it, what’s the connection with the new generation and their music, and how it is [spreading] through radio and all that.

Lucia Anaya
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It’s basically a model of rescuing traditional music, and we’ll have access to archives from the Commission to remaster some material, and record in some of the communities that haven’t been recorded [in] before. Children’s music will be one of the big focuses; we want to record legends, and myths, and also discover new talent and bands that are focused more on the traditional spectrum.

How do you feel like the younger generations are responding to it? How do you feel like you’re building off a pre-existing connection?
Now the [remix] model – like we see in a lot of African music – is exploding a lot, and for Mexican music I think it’s a good opportunity to get there. So to start, we’re doing a record of sacred plants that’s about ayahuasca, mushrooms, etc. On the editorial side of how we want to do things, we’re aiming for it to [create awareness] for younger generations, to educate [them] about sacred plants, and about the story of each record or sound we put out.

“Don’t give a shit about what people think. Just do it, and if it’s a failure, it’ll be fine too.”

Oaxaca is a new adventure, but it’s very exciting. It takes you away from the party scene, but they do party  [laughs]. I’m very happy to contribute to something that will leave a legacy for other generations.

For someone that wants to get into independent music projects, what’s a piece of advice you’d give them?
It’s very important to learn how to do teamwork, to learn how to delegate and be very collaborative with your friends at the end of the day. In my case, you always end up working with friends, no? That’s something super special, but you always want to be super transparent, very clear with the communication. And don’t give a shit about what people think. Just do it, and if it’s a [failure], it’ll be fine too.

Discwoman’s Mexico City takeover begins Friday, January 8 at 8 p.m. Check out the Facebook event for more details.