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Semana Santa festivities in Puerto Peñasco may generally be associated with the sounds of banda, yet this year the electronic dance rhythms and “urgent mix of modern electronic” music of internationally known Infected Mushroom, Panoptica, and Black & Blonde lit up the stage at the Bonita RV Park along the Calle 13 on Friday, March 29th, thrilling a crowd of about 3000.
Before the night’s performance, MoKa Hammeken of RockyPoint 360 had a chance to sit down with Roberto Mendoza of Panoptica Orchestra (who is himself Panoptica) to discuss his innovative music that combines electronic with traditional Norteña, banda, and drums.
(Interview excerpts in English)
By MoKa Hammeken
Who is Panoptica, and why that name?
In seeing my expression, he continued, “You could say I am DJ Panóptica, but without the DJ in the name…just Panóptica. The name comes from when I started; I wanted something that would reflect the type of music and elements I use. I’ve always liked how written words look, and I found the word “panóptica”, I liked how it looked and sounded. Looking into its meaning I read it had something to do with the French philosopher Foucault, and a type of jail whose design allowed for just one guard to observe everything from the center. I liked that perspective of everything in including it within the project. Also in one way or another I am nourished by everything I see, everything around me so that concept goes in both directions…like a 360 of everything there is.”
“I started with the name Panóptica in 1999, in the 80s I also played but under the name Artefackto, which was 100% electronic with a lot of European influence. So I started to include Mexican touches in ’99 when I was with different groups in Tijuana; we had the same idea and we created Colectivo Norte, which was also made up of Bostich, Clorofila, Hiperboreal and Fussible.”
“I separated from the collective in 2008, everyone had their own projects and I started with that of Nortec Panóptica Orchestra. “Nortec,” as I said, was a collective in Tijuana, that then became a registered trademark. In reality it was (or is) a style of music that is electronic mixed with Norteña, Sinaloan banda, and/or drums. The goal since the time it was conceived was for more people to do this type of music and join the collective. But, for one reason or another, the exact opposite happened. That’s why when I saw publicity for this event that said “Nortec” I thought …Noooo! That’s something else. But, oh well. Yes, I am what I would consider Nortec style, but in reality I am Panóptica…it can get confusing.”
“So, what I try to do with this idea is invite people in, to do new things that sound different. More than a musician, honestly I consider myself to be a producer. I really like to collaborate with people; in fact, that song you say you heard by me at first, Complejo de Amor, is Chilean singer Javiera Mena, Khan Oral who is German and Yerba Buena are also on that album…people with a lot of talent and with whom a great album came out.”
How is it that you decided to come play Peñasco?
“I didn’t know I was going to end up here…I didn’t even know about it truthfully,” he laughs. “You never know where you’re going to play, in reality the spots come to you through promoters or Conaculta (National Arts Commission). The good thing is you’re always getting to know new places.”
“The cool thing about my project is when the budget allows, I can take the whole band, Banda Aguacaliente, which is made up of 18 people. I can also do something intermediate with four people (guitarist, accordion, drummer, and trumpet), or everything. When it’s like that I love it because it sounds incredible, plus it’s a super fiesta, and VJ (Gerardo) shines.”
Jerry (VJ) is that who is with you today?
“Yes, he’s Gerardo Audifred and everything you see of video, animation…he produces it. While we’re on he mixes the visuals, just like I do with the audio. He also does short-films and videoclips, he has a gallery in Oaxaca.”
I saw him look at his watch so I started wrapping up the interview. It was almost time to go on and surely they had things to do or simply rest since they had just driven in from Tijuana. We took some pictures and before we said good-bye he came back, as if remembering something, and said:
“Can I do some self-promotion?”
“In about a month or so I’ll have a new album out. It’s not really a Panóptica Album but an album of classic boleros readapted for 2013, called Canción Maldita. Honestly I really like how it’s turning out. You can hear the promo on youtube at cancionmaldita.com There you can see all the links for promotion and downloads…plus, stay alert as we’ll be giving out songs. ….So, I’ll see you later. You’re coming to the concert, right?”
Of course! We’ll be there. You don’t see this everyday in Peñasco.
“The fiesta is going to good,” he promised as he left.
Some friends and I made it in, and upon entering Bonita RV Park the music was already going, people were jumping and dancing – the place was packed! The groups Black & Blondie were on, followed by Panóptica and then Infected Mushroom. Dancing, jumping, and taking pictures until about 4 a.m. when everything came to an end.
Ah yes, and the fiesta rocked! Peñasco.
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