Interview: NXTLYF's Adrián Méndez Reneau, Textures and Feelings of a Dance Floor in the Afterlife

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Mexico’s “Guarachan House” project, NXTLYF, started sometime in 2011 with a few awkward tracks made by French-Mexican multifaceted producer, Adrián Méndez Reneau. It was a form of expression after an influential expedition through Tumblr’s most curious musical contributions, such as seapunk vaporwave and *gasp* ice punk. But not long after that, Méndez Reneau hooked up with his current stage wingman, Juan Méndez, and decided to take NXTLYF to another level.

Unlike Adrián, Juan—who recently moved to Austin, TX—has a deep musical background in his blood, his father being Nacho Méndez, a golden figure of musical composition and bossa nova music in Mexico, while Adrián is more of a diplomatic love child. From the beginning, both of them have taken slow-but-steady steps to further enhance the experience of their music. And this is something you can actually witness after listening to both of their EPs, one after another.

This is no news at all because Mexico City is currently sprouting great experimental electronic dance music initiatives, DJs, and producers, thanks to the many efforts being made by local talent seekers and pushers like Extasis, Finesse, NAAFI, Maligna, and NWLA, and this is probably why foreign labels seem to be so interested in what Méndez & Méndez are doing lately.

French netlabel White Colours isn’t the first one to release Méndez Reneau’s work, as a matter of fact, you can say that Ben Aqua—Austin’s most notorious seapunk—discovered him when he released his music debut using his former moniker Mama Testa (now MATE) through Aqua’s futuristic label #Feelings.

This is why we decided to chat with Méndez Reneau, who also happens to be the man behind a lot of videos for projects like Pedro 123, Changez, Galatzia, Sonido San Francisco, Tino El Pingüino, Pura Crema, and many more.

So here’s what he has to say about his new material and what’s cooking beyond the border.

How much do you think NXTLYF has changed since you started on your own, trolling Tumblr-Wave music on Souncloud?

NXTLYF has evolved into an all-around left-field dance music project as we’re developing our own live set with several digital tools and mixing equipment. We are also looking to create a visual concept for the shows with projections. This kind of makes practicing a live set difficult but we have our workflow very clear. Nowadays, the Internet plays a major role in the survival and fast movement of the project, regardless of real-life obstacles like distance, it makes our work very efficient.

What’s the difference between NXTLYF and all of your other 100 left-field electronic music projects?

NXTLYF is different from my other projects [because] I am not fully responsible for the final output of the content. I can’t emphasize enough how important compromise and working together is for us in order to create our music, it’s not about who has the better idea or who produces better music, it’s about blending those things together to make it a truly collaborative process.

Besides this, I would say it’s a darker approach to dance and bass music than my personal and beloved project Mama Testa. The intention is as literal as the name, we want to appeal toward sounds, textures, and feelings of a dance floor in the afterlife.

Unlike your first EP, the latest one seems to be more influenced by deep dark club music than amphetamines. Please tell us what went behind the scenes while recording and releasing Cryptic EP with White Colours.

Cryptic EP is a compilation of 5 original tracks me and Juan produced together, since late 2011. The chosen tracks are a compilation of Chicago and ghetto house vibes, mixed in with certain foreign elements such as guaracha, and a search for darker, more mysterious atmospheres. The approach to release this with White Colours in France happened earlier this year after the guys from the label, Clément and Frédéric, requested me [for] a remix [of] one of their artists. From there I gave them a demo of Cryptic which was warmly received.

Cryptic EP sounds way less “cryptic” than Digital Friends EP. Who’s the MC preaching throughout the whole new record?

We used bits and pieces of rap a cappellas for four of the more lyrically abstract tracks. [F]or the Guarachan house anthem “Need You Back” we recorded our own, trying to make homage to the classic MC style found in soul-inspired house music. This last track came at the time [when] we started to kneel toward making the tracks 100% original, including voice samples; we feel it’s something that will further help define our sound, and consolidate the craft behind it.

So, what’s with this whole “Guaracha” and “Future House” obsession among Mexican underground producers?

I feel [like] those might just be my particular obsessions. I am really keen on promoting the blend of 3ball guaracha percussions over house patterns and melodies or as I call it, “Guarachan House.” I wouldn’t say there’s a particular obsession among Mexican producers with those two. Perhaps not everywhere, but there are people here mixing a lot of things together besides that. There are now so many different names for different types of music, I feel [like] the obsession of this question, if any, should be directed toward bass-driven music or “bass music.” There’s always a big debate [about] how to index this type of music and I feel it’s the easiest way to talk about it. I am very fortunate to share Mexico City with a lot of crews who mix and produce with incredible knowledge of different trending sub-genres of bass: NWLA, Extasis Records, NAAFI, and Finesse to name a few of the original ambassadors nationwide.

Our community is entering a phase where more people, especially younger kids, 20 and below, are picking up this type of aesthetic and making it their own. I’m sure this is the same case in cities like Monterrey and Tijuana, as there are communities of this sort there, too. There is no doubt [that] a public is consolidating around this, but it’s something that has not flourished to its full extent. People have yet to really grasp the true identity of bass music in Mexico.