(Photo Credit: Daniel Patlán)
Marco Polo Gutiérrez was born in Mexicali but moved to Oakland, California, when he was only 2 years old, remaining there until his teenager years. Then, his mother was deported. He had to move back to Mexicali with the rest of his family, where he found himself amused by Mexicali’s Asian immigrant culture and grew up with his stoner cousins listening to hip-hop.
Later on, when isolation and desertic rave parties got in the way, he started experimenting with different genres of electronic music, trying to craft his own unique sound, but it wasn’t until he remixed—out of boredom—Celso Piña‘s “Cumbia Poder” that his first project, den5hion, was born and caught the attention of the global bass community. Eventually, this project got him his first live gig at a party in Tijuana, which is where he first met ruidosón magnates: Los Macuanos, María y José, and Santos.
In a recent interview by Latino writer and journalist Daniel Hernández, Siete Catorce said, “It was there where I found the tribal and pre-hispanic sound, and I liked that before, too, but I never picked up the sound until I first heard the guys from Ruidosón (…) My style was just all about partying, cumbia and dubstep; when I went to that party, it was really impressive, because what they were doing was really dark, but also very fun.”
So, what we’ve got here is a talented, bipolar, 18-year-old producer who was kicked out of the Bay Area a few years ago. And not only is he still pissed about that, but he’s also depressed about what’s been going on in his native Mexico since he was sent back, something you can definitely feel when listening to his music.
This is Siete Catorce. The darker side of Marco Polo Gutiérrez. The confused one. The introspective and angsty teenage activist part of him. The Hyde within the genius mind of Jekyll. The new sound of Northern Mexico.
That last declaration is bold. And I love it. Because it enrages those old-school Mexican snobs who got lost in the golden days of Nortec, and it infuriates those new Mexican hipsters who hate the sound of their roots mixed with the “future sounds” that they enrapture so deeply in order to feel accepted by an intangible global scene that’s just rotting their geographical identity.
So, yeah. If you’re still reading this, Siete Catorce is that other part of you that doesn’t just want to party or fool around for hours on the dancefloor. That side of you that would rather dance to its own trippy thoughts and ideals than just pop molly and go bro-step all night long à la Snooki (only to have to perform the walk of shame the next morning).
Siete Catorce is braindance music. Yeah, like the musical genre—created by the UK electronic music label Rephlex Records—but heavily influenced by pre-Hispanic shamanism, not just silly cumbia and tribal hybrids.
What? Don’t believe me? I’m not throwing references out of the blue here! If you catch him play live (which might be difficult, unless you live in Mexico), you’re most likely to witness his live cover of “Vordhosbn” (originally by Aphex Twin) or him crowd surfing.
den5hion, on the other hand, might or might not be the alias that represents Gutiérrez’s Americanized self, but sure does sound like it. Not that it’s wrong, but it’s indeed a whole different chapter worth the same amount of words. But that’s a side of him we’ll reserve for future posts, along with the rest of his all-norteño Lowers family. Stay tuned.
Meanwhile, before you go ahead and lose yourself to Siete Catorce’s existentialist, post-ruidosón universe, here’s what a paisano of his—our Mexicali-born friend and political journalist, Manuel Ibarra—told us about Gutiérrez’s role in Baja California’s musical history:
Siete Catorce is the best that has come out of Mexicali in the last 10 years, as far as electronic music goes. And I say 10 years, because that’s when Fax initially came out of Mexicali. So, I believe the evolution of things brought us to this point. He is an excellent poster-boy for Mexicali, and even Mexico. I consider him Mexicali’s Basquiat (of music), because he’s a really authentic fellow who came out of the ghetto, and this is what makes him stand out as a musician in this whole post-nortec, post-tribal, post-ruidosón, post-whatever era. Because he represents Mexicali for what it is. He represents Oakland. He represents all of Mexico.