It’s been a couple weeks since my bandmates and I got back from our first tour through Mexico and El Salvador. I’m finally catching my breath to reflect on all the amazing music we heard and terrific crews we connected with. We stormed through an almost non-stop week of shows, press showcases, and TV appearances, but still managed to fit in some pyramids, beaches, and volcano climbs along the way. Pretty surreal.
Our first stop was in Toluca, Mexico, a smallish city an hour’s drive from the capital that has nonetheless managed to become a required stop for any global bass artist touring Mexico. The shows there are put together by Flavio Barquero aka Sound Bartolo, who is also a member of digital cumbia supergroup Sonido San Francisco. I was super excited that on the night we played in Toluca we were being joined by Uruguayan wunderkind Lechuga Zafiro. If you are not familiar with Lechuga’s music, then his Tropi808 mix is a good place to start, a perfect blend of mostly original productions that can only be described as 808-booty-tropi-tribal-candombe-breaks. Uruguay represent!
The next day in Mexico City was a dream come true, as we spent the whole day immersed in the sounds of Festival Marvin’s tropical bass line up, playing alongside some of our favorite artists. The Frikstailers, originally from the Argentine hinterlands, now residing in Mexico City, set the party off with their fantastic set of dancehall-cumbia-insanity, using all sorts of unconventional midi controllers (and wigs) to bring the music to life. They’re touring in Europe right now, so make sure to catch them if they come your way!
The festival also featured King Louie, Poirier, and the amazing Boogat, who knows a a few things about rocking a crowd (that’s putting it mildly). The stellar line-up was put together by Borchi, an accomplished Mexican rapper and producer in his own right:
After a day getting to check out the pyramids in Teotihuacan, we headed off to El Salvador, where we would be linking up with Frigüey. Frigüey has been performing their infectious brand of ska-punk-cumbia-rock for well over a decade, and they’re kind of a big deal in El Salvador: everywhere we went with them, people would point, stare, shout out “Frigüey!” or enthusiastically come up and say hello. It was this kind of clout that enabled them to set up a string of TV appearances and shows for us in El Salvador.
Amazingly, we played a live set on Viva La Mañana, El Salvador’s version of Good Morning America. Most live TV appearances sounds terrible, or worse, involve playback where you just pretend to play and lipsync your songs. But Frigüey brought a truckload of gear to the TV station at 6 a.m., just so this could be a real performance, and it sounded amazing!
We were also hyping up my video for Senda, which I had shot in El Salvador last year with director Edson Amaya. We held a press conference and performance at MUNA, the National Museum of Anthropology, where Edson and I got to discuss the video and how we had come to work together on it.
We played a string of clubs, and although it was the start of rainy season, people still braved the torrential downpours to come check out the band that had come all the way from Los Angeles to play in Salvador. All the venues we played were amazing, but it’s hard to top the view from stage at La Guitarra Bar in Playa El Tunco, one of Salvador’s surf shrines:
Every night we returned to my adopted home in El Salvador, the town of San Marcos, which lies on the outskirts of the capital, and which inspired this song. I was heartened to discover that everything that I had written about in the song was still true: the jungle, the mangy dogs, the crowing roosters, the vicious mosquitos, and yes, even the night watchman blowing his whistle in the middle of the night while the stifling heat makes it impossible to sleep. And I was thrilled to feel my connection and love for El Salvador deepening and maturing.