Mexican producer Alec Sander, the co-founder of Disque Discos and Exxxtra Picante who’s also known for his work as La Royale & Yesco, has been hard at work putting together a four-track EP under the Mijo moniker. That project is Próximo Berlín, whose tongue-in-cheek title playfully questions publications and individuals that have compared Mexico City’s nightlife and cultural landscape with that of the German metropolis. For Sander, the comparison essentializes the city’s identity. “We are not even [near it] and we do not have the slightest interest in being that,” he said.
The four songs are conceptually rich and complex, but never overwrought. Próximo Berlín‘s title track pays homage to the fun, energetic dance sets created with the limited production tools available in Mexico a few years back. “We stopped caring about sounding cool a couple years ago and we focused more on making a fun moment out of the given situation in Latin America.” This track got an amazing rework by none other than Rex the Dog. Stylistically, “Cheaptron” maintains the energy and clubby vibe we hear at the beginning of the EP, while “Circulate” delves into murkier, deeper waters. Although simple in presentation, it is expertly produced tech house; rather than infusing tracks with stereotypical Latin rhythms, Mijo offers a slice-of-life illustration of what’s been going on in one corner of Mexico’s club scene.
When discussing the influence of touring and his many collaborations on this record, Sander highlights his recent work with Vicente Sanfuentes, a longtime member of Matías Aguayo’s Cómeme label who has also worked with Señor Coconut and Los Amigos Invisibles and now runs his own imprint, Sanfuentes Records. “I have learned a lot of philosophical stuff from him that applies to my music. Specifically one of his soon-to-be-released tracks ‘Derecho contra el muro’ applies well to state of things in the world today and really represents what we want to do with Sanfuentes Records down the road,” Sander reveals.
In his view, the current political landscape has everyone pinned against a wall and forced to chime in to the conversation with a political view. He feels strongly about the lack of commentary in dance music in Mexico, and the obsession with empty and derivative, hook-driven tracks. “I’m not saying that we should all trash our senses of humor and become political or whatever – that would be a total nightmare – but at least it’s interesting to try and capture the zeitgeist and turn it into dance music that transmits liberation or confronts oppression. That was the original idea back in the late 70s in Chicago.”
Sander is all about creating an identity for the Mexican scene that doesn’t rely on comparison to another city. The sarcasm of the album title is his attempt to dispel that notion. He quips, “It’s my travel agency postcard contribution or whatever. ‘Come visit the next Berlin!’ I’m a super bad publicist.” Many artists find empowerment by embracing stereotypes and re-contextualizing them; others find that that just adds another layer to the confusion. For Sander, the album is “claustrophobic, drony machine funk” that drives a wedge between an evolving music scene and the hype machine that tries to slap a false label on it.
To follow up his most recent project, Mijo curated an exclusive collection for Remezcla, aptly titled Próximo Mix. The 50-minute project blends everything from “No Dale Dale” by Argentine house and techno wizards Djs Pareja and Mijo’s own bootleg of “Latina Heroina,” by Chilean techno exponents and labelmates Roman & Castro. Last but not least, the aforementioned Sanfuentes track “Derecho contra el muro” also makes an appearance here. Listen to the full mix above.