Q&A: Jairo Manzur, of Latino América Shoegaze and on the scene

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There are different perspectives when it comes to music journalism. There are journalists who embody it in their everyday lives, those who ritually collect mixtapes and remixes, and others who are fascinated and study a specific niche genre; basically the list goes on forever. If anyone is familiar with my work, I’m personally interested in the origins of music, specifically, I have a deep connection with writing about and uncovering the secrets of the neo psychedelic and shoegaze genre from an international perspective. While writing for Remezlca and covering new experimental, psych and alt rock Latin bands, I began to see a patterns within the bands I write about.

The majority of these shoegaze bands derive from Argentina, Chile, and Brazil — not to say it’s limited to — and I started wondering how a British and North American obscure music genre like shoegaze touched countries that were so different — culturally, musically, and linguistically speaking. While researching for new bands, I found this blog called Latino America Shoegaze, so I quickly reached out to its founder, and fellow journalist, Jairo Manzur of Tunja, Colombia.

Jairo Manzur is one of the small society of music bloggers who specifically covers shoegaze, neo psychedelic, and experimental rock that derives from Latin America. His specialty is covering this small but powerful, cultural, and artistic phenomenon. He’s a pioneer and a dedicated supporter of music and the Latin American shoegaze scene. Here is a little bit about his story, and why he is so fascinated with the shoegaze genre, the history of Latin American shoegaze and experimental music and his personal experiences with the music.

The rare people who are truly well versed in the history and happenings of shoegaze, are aware that the genre has had a huge impact on South America, especially Bueno Aires, how do you think the music traveled so from its North American roots?

There are many people from North America and Europe who are interested in the impact that shoegaze has made on Latino América since I began this blog. I’ve found many people that have supported us in publications like When the Sun Hits, German website Shoegazr,” Patetico Recordings, who have worked with many Latin American bands, and most recently The Process Records Music Blog and Remezcla.

Shoegaze has never been a massive musical genre. Most of the sites and people support each other just for pleasure. During the ’90s the influence of bands like My Bloody Valentine along with Loveless, Slowdive, Souvlaki and Ride were definitive in the creation of the first seeds of shoegaze. Nowadays with the internet, music is more accessible than in those days, so new generations [in Latin America] have discovered shoegaze, many are creating new projects, and making new music based on it.

What it is about Shoegaze, and specifically South American shoegaze that motivated you to dedicate an entire blog to it?

I am big fan of shoegaze, noise and experimental music. I knew of different projects made in Argentina, Brazil, and Peru. For me, that was enough to know that there’s a scene and a movement within those genres in Latin America, so we began thinking of ideas on how to promote the bands doing that type of music. In the beginning, the blog was just promoting ten bands, but I began to receive a lot of emails from bands in different countries like Peru, Mexico, Brazil and Chile. The whole idea of Latino América Shoegaze has been built spontaneously. There are bands from all over Latin America who are not just “imitating” other foreign bands, they are creating new and exciting music.


What is shoegaze music to you (the sound, the genre, the style)?

Well that is hard to describe, for me shoegaze it’s totally defined by sound: dreamy voices, the use of many guitar pedals would be the most characteristic mark. Personally, Shoegaze for me is like a way of feeling. Since the first time I heard My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive, it totally blew my mind. I suppose that not all the people find this music enjoyable but those who like it, feel it instantaneously and never get tired. That’s for sure!

What other countries besides Argentina do you find psychedelic and shoegaze to be strongly represented?

Well, in fact Peru has a experimental and shoegaze scene that has existed during the last two decades and has given great music. Historically, it would be the most representative shoegaze scene in Latin America. Brazil has a great shoegaze scene as well. There are many gigs, many bands playing and recording great music. Recently, I got to know the Mexican scene, which has many projects that are valuable to listen to. In Chile, there is a growing scene on shoegaze that is just in the beginning, in my opinion, and has a promising future. Argentina has a great musical scene that is supported by the work of indie labels like Black Fish Discos, Fuego Amigos Discos, and Sadness Discos and others who support not only shoegaze acts but all indie bands as well.

Do you think original shoegaze/dreampop/ neo psyche bands like My Bloody Valentine, Ride, and Slowdive will ever recognize the shoegaze explosion in South America and tour there?

Well we hope. My Bloody Valentine is touring Japan next year, makes me believe a Latin American tour is possible. In the case of Peru, many great shoegaze or shoegaze-influenced foreign bands have played there such as The Radio Dept., Loveliescrushing, and Mahogany. Mark Gardener of Ride played in Lima in 2008 thanks to Peruvian shoegaze group Resplandor and the band’s promotion on events with production company, Automatic Entertainment Productora. In the case of Slowdive, it’s almost impossible to expect a reunion tour. Many new generation shoegaze, foreign bands are coming to Peru, Argentina, Mexico and Brazil, and [vice versa] some Latin American bands are beginning to tour in North America and Europe. During the ’90s, the shoegaze scene was called The Scene That Celebrates Itself. For me that’s totally tro. So, the possibilities will be always open.

Who are your favorite Latin American shoegaze bands?

Asalto al Parque Zoológico, Sugar Candy and Gasti Lucsin from Argentina; Los Mundos and Everything is Falling Apart from Mexico; Puna and Resplandor from Peru; Un.Real from Puerto Rico; Loomer and The Sorry Shop from Brazil; Mi Andromeda and Inverness from Chile.

Talking about shoegaze bands, I also recommend Bosques and Atrás hay truenos from Argentina, Duelectrum from Brazil, all the bands from YoConVoz Discos in Argentina, bands if Peru’s Chip Musik Records label, as well as Brazil’s Sinewave Net Label.

What are your plans for the future of your blog, Latino America Shoegaze?

Three bands that have been linked to Latino América Shoegaze since its beginnings (28 June, 2011) are going to record their first albums within the next months: Asalto al Parque Zoológico (Argentina), Puna (Peru) and Loomer (Brazil). I’m covering and reviewing these forthcomings. Peruvian ambient/folk/experimental band Altiplano Plateau will be releasing a three-track EP composed of previous albums in order to promote their new one. Puerto Rico band Un.real will present a split album for free download for the very first time too. Fuego Amigos Discos will present in just a few days a great live split album with Bosques, Niño Elefante, Guazuncho and Los días that will be review through Latino América Shoegaze too. By the end of the year, I’m planning to create new compilations. My idea with this is to be more specific: an album with only shoegaze bands, another with the more experimental ones, and then those with the more folk and psychedelic sounds. We’ll see!