Marcelo C Baez of Nacotheque/Rico Suave fame talks about his new project P3CULIAR, his new LP "Role Play" ahead of Friday 10/24 Maracuyeah DC show.
Naco, like in the best way. The New York DJ institution behind Nacotheque/Rico Suave that is Marcelo Corvin Baez, recently turned a new leaf as an artist and music producer in his latest project P3CULIAR.
We found out more about Marcelo’s new baby via an exclusive Skype interview. Hi Marcelo!
Taking New York City prisoner in the early 2000s, Marcelo was one of the masterminds behind the infamous Nacotheque parties, the Latin-ish genre switching, afterpartying-with-rock-stars-til-the-wee-hours-of-the-morn’ parties that lived and breathed in sweaty New York City basement dive bars. Having moved from Sacramento, Marcelo arrived in NYC to try his luck and brought some seriously muy caliente DJ skills with him.
Marcelo’s “naquez” (coolness) started when he was 13. “That’s when I bought my first turntable,” Marcelo recalls, “My uncle was DJing quinceañeras and bodas in Mexico and I remember following him around all over the place and learning to DJ. Eventually I was DJing my own high school house parties and whatever else came my way.”
Marcelo refers to his current tastes in music as somewhat obscene, “Music purists and people that were used to roaming within a specific subculture in New York were really almost insulted when I came along and would mix genres by playing literally everything I liked. Coming from Sacramento, there really weren’t enough people to create a subculture so we would all go to these weird hippie warehouse parties where you would end up with the goths, and hip-hoppers, and ravers all in one place. It was super fun because you were essentially forced to mingle with other groups you would normally not mingle with. And that’s something I really wanted to incorporate into the parties here in NYC,” shared Marcelo.
Throwback Nacotheque Pic, Marcelo C and his partner in crime AmyLu.
Aside from his genius idea, Marcelo was also in the right place at the right time. This was a time when the Latin Alternative Music Conference (LAMC) was in its early stages hosted at New York University, and Remezcla was known as “Mosaico” and run out of a Columbia dorm room. These Latin alternativo kids needed a place to blow off some steam and that’s where Nacotheque came in. Marcelo C paired up with Amy Lu, an NY local mover and shaker, and they were soon hosting the hottest “Latin” parties. The latest pop, rock, cumbia, electronica, and bass rhythms were served hot alongside artists you may have heard on your momma’s radio growing up like Juan Gabriel.
Seriously who doesn't love some JuanGa.
I asked Marcelo if he felt that Latino’s raised in the US have more of a responsibility to listen to the music their parents listened to. “It’s not so much about rescuing what your parents know because they can also have awful taste in music. Like my dad has terrible taste in music (don’t worry I tell him this all the time), while my mom is a lot more cultured in her tastes. Also once you mature your tastes change too, so you could have witnessed your mom listening to Juan Gabriel and thought it was embarrassing but when you listen to him now you may think ‘wow he is soooo good!’ I think it’s important to keep incorporating music you develop a taste for and always appreciate good music.”
To understand P3CULIAR’s style of music you have to understand Marcelo’s philosophy. “I think if you’re a fan of music, generally you’re not just a fan of a single genre. You’re a fan of good music in general. Within every genre you’ll find good and bad music regardless of how underground or popular it is.”
This philosophy has led Marcelo on an endless search for "good music". “I loved all this music from forever ago and didn’t have a place where I could go listen to it. Nacotheque was definitely an ‘if you build it they will come’ experiment. Yes it was confusing at first, especially during the first year when people would see ads about 'Latin nights' and show up expecting salsa and reggaeton and were mad when we were playing Soda Stereo and Alaska y Dinarama. However, there was also a small group of people that got it right away,” shares Marcelo. Nacotheque was shuffling genres and eliminating the purists one by one and bringing the more adventurous souls together on the dancefloor.
You can say that Marcelo’s P3CULIAR baby was born on that same dancefloor. “We used to host these awesome afterparties for various bands and we did several for Kinky. When I started dabbling in music production I mentioned it to Ulises Lozano (keyboardist/accordion player for Kinky) and he told me he liked my mixes and wanted to hear more. So over that next year or so I sent him over 20 tracks and he became my producer. We worked on those tracks back and forth until we narrowed them down to the songs now featured on the LP Role Play.
This throwback Nacotheque Kinky Afterparty Flyer is from 2006 ya'll.
One thing that cemented the relationship between Marcelo and Ulises was their mutual “geeking out” over silly songs. "Some people find my taste in music to be in poor taste and I’m totally aware of it, so I was very guarded on working with Ulises on the record because he is so reserved. That changed when I visited LA, we got to talking about all these songs that were really silly but really good. Like we would agree that “El Sonidito” is such a silly song or “El Gato Volador” is such a hit. It definitely made things easier once I found out he was into some of the same stuff I was. He’s got a ton of super great ideas and is very open to hearing new ones,” Marcelo shared.
In Role Play, Marcelo tries to capture the various musical styles that make up his personality. “In ‘Hazme El Amor’ I added a middle eastern inspired cumbia feel, whereas in 'Star' I wanted to pay homage to Argentine cumbia villera style. On something like ‘Wicked’ I wanted a heavy industrial sound and sort of new wave so the beat is really hard and the melody is slightly evil and sinister, but then we contrasted the heavy synthesizers with a pitch shifted voice that’s almost sweet sounding.”
Marcelo originally recorded the vocals as placeholders while he looked for artists to sing them, however, he soon changed his mind deciding to stick with his vocals. “My voice is kind of deep and its kind of awful for singing. It’s similar to when you have curly hair and you want straight hair. Well I have a deep masculine voice but I like the higher pitched sounds so I played around with the pitch shifter until I got the sound I wanted,” shares Marcelo.
There are definitely no complaints in the vocals of the infectiously sexy single, "Menea" sung in collaboration with rapper Cakes Da Killa. The video is similarly mesmerizing. “Thank you! That's actually a fun story. I was staying with a friend of mine in LA who is an encyclopedia of information about Latin American pop culture. I opened one of his closets and it was literally filled from floor to ceiling with old VHS tapes. I even found a tape called ‘Boda de Bibi Gaitan con Eduardo Castillo....’ Anyway, one day he was watching a Mexican fichera film called ‘Bellas de Noche’ it was essentially a 70's Mexican burlesque movie with the silliest plot and really just an excuse for old men to see boobs. For some reason the movie stood out and when I thought of a video for ‘Menea’ I worked with Vidi Vici Films to get that Burlesque style," shared Marcelo.
"It was full circle because we filmed it at Fontana's where I started the first DJ parties. Suddenly I was there with my friends helping me to get this video out for my first record. It was a cool experience.”
P3CULIAR has his debut DC show this Friday, October 24th with Los Malportado Kids (Rhode Island protest cumbia), Frikkitona (DC Queer Reggaeton DJ Duo) and Maracuyeah (Quinceañera bass, tropical amor rhythms) at Judy’s Restaurant.
Tickets are $7-$10 (Flexicover)
Party from 9 – 3am.
Check out P3CULIAR.com on Soundcloud, Spotify, and Facebook if you're ready to dance now! If you’re in Mexico check him out playing a show at El Imperial with Amanditita, and in Cholula with Ali Gua Gua (Ultrasonicas, Kumbia Queers)!!!
Ali Gua sobre P3CULIAR album Role Play: "Piensa en el Italo-disco de Yuri, en el High- Energy de Alaska/Fangoria, en el techno pop de Mecano, Aqua y Whingfield, en los teclados de Daniela Romo y Amanda Miguel aderezados con el sentido del humor de María Daniela y su sonido Lasser. Role-play es electroclash y pista de baile fashionista, con un tinte latino omnipresente en forma de Bachatrón y Electro-cumbia peculiarmente cheesy, campy y cool."