It is breakfast time at a tucked-away garden restaurant in Mexico City’s leafy southern neighborhood of Coyoacán. Andrés Jaime (aka Wet Baes), who has come straight from his parents’ house a few blocks away, is alternating an alarming number of Delicado cigarettes with enchiladas suizas, juice, and a Coca-Cola, running down the list of his musical influences.
The 20-year-old producer’s nicotine-fueled oration ranges between funk, Chicago and New York, Paris’ Ed Banger Records and Justice, Prince, the Beach Boys, Pink Floyd, and Solange. As he traverses this panorama of synth and sound, his tortoiseshell glasses slip and stay perched down the bridge of his nose, leaving him peering across the table over the lenses. The gaze evokes something close to a Revista Tú heartthrob vibe, highlighted by his choice of wardrobe: a rose-colored T-shirt with the sleeves rolled up – very millennial pink James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause.
Today, that charisma is only underlining the fact that Andrés is supernaturally dedicated to his craft. He has way more than two rounds of coffee to say about what makes songs sound fresh (his answer: hard work and emotional clarity). He talks extensively about musical legacy and about how it’s important to explicitly consider that while creating in the studio. He’s fully immersed in the cycle of inspiration, how some genius albums become the basis of future artists’ inspiration, breathing new life into the classics of yesterday.
It’s possible that he is particularly thoughtful this morning because he is celebrating the near completion of his debut album Changes. It’s worth the contemplation; a relaxed collection of romantic, French-inspired new wave disco cuts that spotlights Andrés’ fine touch for maudlin, danceable songs. The vibes are slick enough to transition from the dance floor to the bedroom, breathy and light and easy to leave on repeat for say, a long drive to the beach.
“We have the potential to influence other projects that want this kind of sound – a new movement.”
The album takes its inspiration from demos that the producer recorded years ago, back when he was first diving deep into French house titans Justice. Wet Baes lit upon the potential of evocative, poppy house, updating and recalibrating it to fit his own artistic journey, configured around provoking an emotional connection in listeners.
“It’s about all the ways that people get wet to my music,” he says, explaining the origin story of his artistic alias. “You sweat because you dance, you cry because you felt it…What’s the ultimate expression of emotion? It’s you getting wet.” In early interviews, he told reporters the name was an homage to the women he saw as the uninhibited groupies of the 80s, but he admits there are levels to Wet Baes. “I like giving things a deeper meaning than might at first appear,” he explains. “You see the point, but not everything that lies beneath it.”
Andrés has only been working on the Wet Baes project for a couple of years, but the way he perceives his music has evolved since he started to record at the age of 16. He made metal tracks built with the help of a pointed base guitar, Garage Band software, and a computer microphone. Soon after, he and his high school friends formed AFFER, a nu-disco quartet that gained traction with fans on the Mexican festival circuit.
AFFER’s members have since fanned out into new incarnations — brothers Miguel and Hugo Galicia formed French house duo Tayrell, vocalist Mariana de Miguel metamorphosed into Finesse Records’ R&B chanteuse Girl Ultra. Wet Baes launched his solo project before the band had its final gigs. The old crew remains involved; Wet Baes produced Girl Ultra’s first two singles and two songs off her Finesse debut EP Boys, and she makes a cameo on the intro of Changes. But solo, Andrés has an unprecedented level of control over his sound. He provides the vast majority of Wet Baes vocals, and can play the guitar, two keyboards, and a mixer all at the same time (you can check him doing just that in this performance video of “Don’t Go,” the first single off the EP Youth Attraction.)
“I don’t think anyone has passed through the lines of music that I’ve passed through and achieved the sound that I have achieved with this album.”
Wet Baes was excited to use his post-AFFER era exploring the vaporwave 80s vibe he had long admired in a handful of rock groups and pop producers in Mexico City from over the last 10 years. “I thought, ‘I think I can go back to where I came from.’ Revisit that time, that trip, those ideas, and mix it with what I’m listening to now, the new things I’m learning.” Volga Beach and Santiago Padilla’s later RVRB Music shoegaze band Hawaiian Gremlins, Los Blenders, O Tortuga, and Alec Sander (aka La Royale/Mijo) are on this list of artists he finds kinship with, not to mention Monterrey’s Clubz, a group that Andrés gives credit to for continuing to evolve the 80s feel with 2017 technology and techniques.
“[Clubz and I] both feel like we have the potential to influence other projects that want this kind of sound – a new movement,” says Andrés. “But it’s really too early to talk about that.” He’s still in the plotting phase for Wet Baes, happy to see whether the project continues to establish him as an innovator in the Mexican scene, or provides the boost he’d need to become an internationally recognized performer, following the trajectory of artists like Neon Indian. He’s already making moves in this direction, having made an appearance at SXSW this spring, with an upcoming gig at Chicago’s Ruido Fest in July.
Wet Baes’ respect for the pop of the 80s isn’t just nostalgia, though; the drive that he and other artists like Neon Indian have to integrate the synth chords of Italo disco stars into tracks for modern-day listeners isn’t pure irony. Somehow, the chromed-out, Patrick Nagel melancholy of 80s pop feels right for 2017, an era in which few are feeling great, but still want to party. Profundity has its moments, but on the dance floor, subtle sadness can sometimes communicate better than ripping out one’s still-beating heart with ugly cry lyrics and dramatic melody.
Wet Baes considers Madonna and particularly Michael Jackson to be among the purest formulations of popular music. That fandom is clearly visible in Andrés’ footwork in last year’s video for track “Dancing in the Dark,” a track meant to foreshadow the sound of Changes and that receives a slowed, emotive reprise on the album’s final cut. The musical chops and video performance make for a pretty addictive package, and fans agree. “Quisiera morir todas las noches con esta canción!” goes a pretty representative YouTube comment.
If fans liked the album’s teaser, Wet Baes is trying to ensure that they go six feet under for the finished project. Given his verbal tracks during the interview, his final statement seems well-founded. “I’ve done the research,” he says, calling for the check so that he can split and finish mastering the Changes tracks. “And I don’t think anyone has passed through the lines of music that I’ve passed through and achieved the sound that I have achieved with this album.”
Wet Baes’ debut album Changes is available now via Apple Music. Stream it above.