Hardware: La Mecánica Popular’s Live Rig Is a Political Statement on Eurocentric Electronics

Hardware is a video series that takes a closer look at our favorite musicians’ rigs. Some artists talk about their live shows while others give us a chance to peep their home studios.

In the third episode of Hardware, we speak to Efraín Rozas, the man behind keyboards and electronics in Peruvian outfit La Mecánica Popular. Rozas is the type of musician that makes things look easy. His setup is practical yet experimental, combining the classic voicings of Moog equipment with more boutique gear, like a Critter & Guitari Pocket Piano. A laptop on stage usually indicates a lot of sequencing and automation, and that can be off-putting for some, but Rozas makes a point to use his computer as a nerve center with enough room in the rest of his rig to navigate the risky territory of improvisation. Music like La Mecánica Popular’s, which is so strongly influenced by Afro-Latino genres, can’t just be pre-programmed. Still, it’s necessary to have the right tools to recreate the sound and feel of those rhythms, while simultaneously having the freedom to jam live.

Rozas owns key equipment that serves this purpose, and what he hasn’t found on the market, he’s created on his own. Part of his setup includes a self-designed DIY drum synth built out of an index card box. He also wrote an impressive drum machine patch for the open source sound design software Max/MSP that caters to very specific needs in his live setup. A true gearhead and performer, Rozas shows us how exploring the possibilities in the overwhelming world of hardware can pay off and be more manageable when you have a vision and focus on developing your own sonic identity.