- Arts & Culture
Hello Marcos and Hello Emiliano of Cuco Records!
Emiliano: Hello, nice to be here.
So I’d like you to introduce yourselves a little: who are you, what do you do, and more than anything – how did you get to know each other? You’re two personalities that been around the Mexican electronic and dance music scene for a while – Emiliano – EMI.te as part of Dance Your Name and Marcos is been doing things for years now as Keinke. Could you describe me the concept of Cuco Records and how did you decide to have a project together?
M: I believe it all begins with EMI.te – he was the one who founded this label and its concept, mainly due to his love for music. We met through having a similar taste. This was how I first went to listen to him deejay. When I met him he already had Cuco by himself.
So the official founder of the label was Emiliano?
M: Exactly. Would be great that Emiliano told us a bit about the very beginnings of this project.
E: I’m Emiliano Tapia, alias EMI.te and I’m 26 years old. The idea and necessity to found Cuco Records came to me since early times when I began making music, because I discovered that the sounds and vibe that I had didn’t make sense at the beginning, but there were many people who guided me. It was during those times Dance Your Name appeared. It blew my mind. I finally felt that I belong somewhere. I worked pretty hard to get there until I was finally invited to join them by Fig. This was also a big motivation and influence for me in making my own music and feeling I was allowed to express myself with any restrictions. I feel something and start to play around: I might begin with a kickdrum or a bass or vocals and little by little I pick up a mood but I always part from my present feelings. So I found Cuco to support all these producers out there.
Primarily yes, but they’re from everywhere. This way I got in touch with Annahat, who’s Colombian, Franco – an Argentinian… Producers who feel and make music, and that’s it.
And so here, in this Mexican label, they find a home for themselves.
Yes. And what primarily motivates us is to make music. Get down and share with the world what you create. Because sometimes when you just make music for yourself you fill yourself up for the moment, and then what?
Yes, totally. And how long ago did you start this project?
Three years and a half approximately.
Where does your name come from, what is a ‘Cuco’?
My dad is called Jesus Tapia, but he always introduces himself as Cuco Salazares. It’s like his alter-ego. He’d often play around with it.
Like some sort of entity of his very own?
Yeah and also like a very Mexican entity, like a ‘real’ Mexican who loves his land and such.
Yeah it’s not just playing around and has quite a deep meaning. And so I felt it very personal because he’s my idol.
Earlier you mentioned that you can’t do anything by yourself, Emiliano, things only happen when you’re part of a movement. What do you think of the movements and the general situation of the Mexican scene? Where do you stand and what’s your part in it?
M: This question definitely helps explaining how I became part of Cuco Records. I’ve been playing and deejaying for many years as well as exploring a vast variety of genres – this was due to my family and close friends from many years ago. Let’s say I come from the psy scene. But I always had a liking for industrial sounds. Even in that scene I would play more industrial versions of psy but this is the kind of sound that never got popular in Mexico.
What do you exactly mean by ‘psy’?
Psy-trance. For example, such projects as Milimili’s X-Dream which had a more industrial, electro sound, but nobody liked them here for some reason. Ever since I developed a liking for that kind of sound. Also influenced by my family I took a liking for progressive house, that’s when I began to deejay myself. So ever since I’ve been part of many scenes, such as like deep house in the AM Club or Terraza Catedral… All those places that have this kind of…
Yes, housy and quite limited from my point of view. They do have very strict boundaries which you cannot cross as an artist. So I always fought these limits and the necessity to define myself within them. At some point it was somewhat frustrating. So then was when Dance Your Name, a pretty solid movement in the Mexican scene appeared.
Did you feel identified with them?
Not exactly, but when I was part of the other scenes, I got to know DYN and it was a pretty fresh sound for me. They had a vibe I always enjoyed but never came across with here in Mexico. That’s how I met many of those artists, among them EMI.te. At first I didn’t know him in person, just his sets. At some point I organized a party with a friend who was helping me a lot back then. We invited Emi to play and it was great. The connection we made that time was not only musical, but we also became friends. It was like a seed for things to come. It was also very exciting for me to know that he’s got a label with pretty open views. That’s how I got invited to play a live set in one of the Cuco lives – one of the video transmissions, and my sound fit very well with the label. It was always what I craved for – play without limits that I had before.
A place where you belong.
That’s something invaluable, probably one of the greatest things to ever happen to me – not only in professional terms, but also in life. So many great friendships – you get to meet so many people, like you, or many more. And that’s what I feel Cuco is about, part of a movement, like a niche where so many artists get to know each other.
Not because of their ego, but because of the music they share.
Ever since when did you begin those transmissions and how many have you done so far?
28. The first one happened at the same time as a the first release was out.
How many releases have you got so far?
More or less 16 – EP’s and Compilations.
So we’ve mentioned various times that the aim of Cuco is a broad variety of genres. Even so, what are your biggest influences that generally affected your sound preferences? Doesn’t matter if it’s locals or not – just someone who shaped the sound of this movement. I know you’re big fans of house.
E: I’ve always been fascinated by now diseased, nonetheless a genius Andreas Ghem. When I would listen to his Electric Part One and his main project, I would feel this fusion of feelings and ideas he had that I felt close to. He’s a teacher, a god. I felt that he used the machines not only to make music – it’s evident from his recordings that he’d get ecstatic while using them. He’s a key figure for me.
Like some sort of Cuco patriarch then?
E: Could be, could be. It’s always been him. In the studio he was that way, but then again very kind as a person too – he would give away for free his music and such. He was never somebody making a big deal out of himself. He’d just share himself all over the place.
Well, the fact he gave away his music says a lot.
E: Yeah, that’s quite a level. Another key figure is Green Velvet. Markus Mix, who sadly is now having financial problems. Take a look at his albums on sale: they’re worth 500 dollars, and what about him? This happened because he put out music in labels which functioned in terms of: firstly – me, then me, and then – you. That’s how talents like him might get lost.
And your influences, Marcos?
M: Particularly the acid sound is something that I always went along with. Matrixman, even though I don’t follow him so much anymore, was always a big influence. As I told you before, I come from psy, but the influence I got from there it’s not of the genre as such, but the trip to do with it. This is something I’ve been applying in music I make in different genres. X-Dream and Kox-Box some other key names. I’ve even played them to Emi perhaps, I have their vinyls and such.
So they influence the music you make too?
Yes, totally. A while ago I had a listen to them yet again.
You two have a collaborative music project as well, right?
E: Yes, it’s called Atmosphere Placement Project.
And what’s the deal with it? It’s a great name. Very good one.
E: It may sound a little pretentious, but…
No, not at all.
E: But we felt that since we always come up with very spacey atmospheres…
And very placed.
E: Haha, yes. Anyway, we always begin with jamming, but our purpose is to take acid and house to a next level – make it more mental, yet still apt for jacking.
Basically you do aim for a more cosmic and thoughtful vibe.
M: Yes, probably that’s the result of the fusion of our styles. For example, Emi makes a lot of jacking rhythms, whereas I tend to go for atmospheric and psychedelic sounds. That way we make quite an interesting contrast together – where the psychedelic meets something very moving.
Yes, totally. That’s why also the name is very suitable.
M: Yeah, it all came together when we saw that not only we have similar tastes, but similar approaches to music making. We just tried to make music and it flowed very easily. This never happened to me before with anybody, even though they were great musicians, yet somehow the ideas didn’t come together, it was very difficult. Something one would like, the other wouldn’t and so on.
Would kind of flow but then the friction would start.
M: Sometimes there’d be too much friction. But here the flow is very decent and everything is so easy. Sometimes it seems the sounds just comes out by itself. That’s something we highly enjoy. Something like giving ourselves into the machines and they’d do their work.
Talking of which, do you have a specific preference for digital or analogue? Also about the machines. I’m talking here as a fan of analogue – not that I’m completely anti digital, but there’s a great difference between these two. How do you see it?
M: For me they’re two worlds in good coexistence. They get along pretty well. I don’t give priority to one or the other, I guess it’s everybody’s choice. In the end analogue does sound very different – it’s electricity made into sound, whereas digital is something virtual. But these virtual things have their own cons. Certain things you can do virtually are impossible to make with analogues. We try not to limit ourselves and just try to achieve the sound that suits us. It’s a whole different world though, it sometimes seems to me you can connect with the machines. That’s very difficult to achieve with a VST.
Yes, that’s precisely how I feel. It took me years to appreciate music making with a computer. It’s far more pleasurable to use machines.
M: Yes, I think it’s quite a hedonistic approach.
Do you have a favourite brand then? Which has a more dear sound to you?
M: Yeah, what probably firstly got us two close was the Roland TR-303, the classic acid machine. That’s probably our favourite one, but it’s not like we always use it. Sometimes we allow it to rest too. Honestly I don’t think I have a particularly favourite brand – whichever machine can give me the sound I’m looking for it’s fine. Whether it’s Roland, Akai, Korg.
Yeah, it was quite a funny question perhaps, but I know quite a lot of music makers who tend to get obsessed with one kind of a gear and such.
M: Yeah… Me, personally, I really enjoy Rolland, I have a special liking of that brand’s products. Maybe it’s because of my synthesizer which I’ve had for 18 years now. And generally Roland products seem very good to me. They have a very decent sound. Maybe I could say it’s my favourite brand.
E: Me, I’m a fan of Roland basically because they were the ones who pioneered the sound of dance music – house, techno, with products which were made to make that music. And so these geniuses took the 808 and said what if I do this and this and then this. But these are people who were natural-born pleasers – not just somebody who’d take a machine and play it’s basics, but they’d try to generate more love, so to say. That’s basically what it’s all about.
E: Always. Love.
So, guys, last question. Which are your future plans and which local artists, parties or places would you recommend for our listeners?
M: Plans as such we don’t have, just some projects we’d like to complete. First of all – our label.
As in physical label?
M: Yes, exactly.
Now you’re only on Bandcamp, right?
M: Yes. The next step would be releasing vinyl. And a little merchandise, you know – t-shirts and stuff like that.
Furniture, pillows, cups…
M: Mugs, spoons.
M: Straws, yeah. But yeah, basically, we want to get a bit more serious and take it to another level. We’re going slow but firm.
E: At the moment we have a recent outing which is the new compilation of Bonafont Foundation Karma which is a series of EPs with maximum four tracks.
You have quite a few of those already, right?
E: Thirteen. So we’re focused on that and also an LP by Astronomer33 which is going to be a fully minimal synth album. We’re very excited about this. Astronomer33 is completely given in terms of his creations and beliefs, so he came up with something which is danceable but at the same time angry and sad, and yet hopeful. It’s fully written, performed and produced by Astronomer33.
Very interesting, can’t wait to heat it. Which other local artists would you recommend checking out? For our foreign listeners – since the show and interview aims to present these happenings in Mexico to European audiences and such.
M: One of the artists here in Mexico I really enjoy is Animam. He’s coming up with some pretty interesting things and quite different to what everybody else is doing. Very interesting. Also BadNameRoy is another favourite. Another I respect a lot is Gege.
And you, Emiliano?
So thank you very much, guys, any last words you’d like to add for the people who’re hearing and reading us?
M: Hopefully you can check out Cuco Records’ Bandcamp to listen what we’ve gathered there, it was quite an effort we put there, and it’s not only Mexican artists, but it became sort of magnetic and there’s quite a few artists from different parts of the world who had the confidence to send us their work to be published there, even though we’ve also spoken to them asking if they want to put out something through our label. A very neat network has been being built. So I recommend to take a peak and maybe you find something you’d enjoy. All the things produced by artists we’ve put out are very sincere, very well done and is it’s pure quality what you’ll find in our page. So that’s about it, may all of you be well and greetings!
Playlist1. Ian North - Sex Lust You
2. Pas De Deux - Squeezing
3. Current Obsessions - Faceless Rite
4. Richard Bone - Mambopolis
5. Atmosphere Placement Project - Acid Hack
6. EMI.te - Can't See U Now
7. Atmosphere Placement Project - Pain Suffa
8. Keinke - 2078
9. Franco D. - Lenguage Saturation
10. EMI.te - I Don't Think U Care
11. Tyndall - Die Stadt
12. Ende Shneafliet - Panzerfaust 60
13. Cabaret Voltaire - Invocation