Online sharing platforms have facilitated a welcome boom within electronic music over the past decade or so, and techno — a genre birthed from a tradition of afro-futurism, queer joy, and cultural resistance — has been one of the most exciting recipients of this resurgence. Recent years have seen a number of artists contributing to the genre’s strong cultural legacy and carving new spaces both online and within live DJ scenes.
Nicolas Guerrero, aka White Visitation, is a Mexico City techno veteran with an international reputation. In addition to releasing on established electronic platforms like L.I.E.S. and RVNG, Guerrero has helped grow his local scene with his party No Sleep, which he launched in 2014 with Frankie Francisco. We corresponded with him ahead of his show at Good Room on Thursday.
Much has been said about Mexico City as a budding electronic destination. Could you provide any insight into the techno scene in particular? How does it move within the larger community?
WV: I think the scene is still too small for that for the most part; it hasn’t become atomized or segregated into specific genre-dependent cliques, for good or bad. There’s a few local DIY promoters that focus on techno to be sure, but there’s also a big crossover in the audience that goes to these parties and bass parties, for instance.
In an interview with Resident Advisor earlier this year, you spoke about some frustrations with DJing in the local scene. Was No Sleep, the party you started with Frankie Francisco in the fall of 2014, an attempt to carve a more distinctly techno or experimental space within the larger community?
WV: Yeah, No Sleep is definitely us trying to affect the scene more directly. It’s kind of the polar opposite to putting out records, which can be pretty abstract; putting on a party is the least abstract way of making presenting music. Not necessarily ‘carve out a more techno or experimental space’ but just something that was more ‘us’, which can mean a lot of things, admittedly.
WV: I would definitely not narrow No Sleep to techno — I feel the party’s focus is broad enough that we can easily throw a house or acid or bass-y night, and we have. Just showcasing artists that we love and frequently have personal connections to; artists that would maybe not get a chance to play down here otherwise.
How has it been received so far?
WV: Reception’s been great, every party is better attended than the last and it’s great to see the project grow like it has.
Techno has often developed with a sense of regionalism. In your opinion, is there a distinctly Mexican or Mexico City techno sound? How would you describe the way the unique cultural and social setting of Mexico City informs your music, if at all?
WV: I don’t think there’s a (numerically) significant enough community of producers in the city to say that there’s a local sound. Add to this that most people working in this are aping someone from abroad or something and you get…sonic mush.
WV: I think any city has these intangible, unexplainable features/idiosyncrasies that feed into your vibe, of course. I don’t know that I can actually explain what these are in the case of Mexico City. Something that’s clear is how hectic and laid-back it can feel simultaneously, which should make no sense, but is true.
Your method of sampling is one feature I’m drawn to in your work, where the samples are often subdued and harder to recognize. Can you speak a bit about your favorite artists or sounds to sample, and how you approach integrating them into your songs?
WV: Lately, I’m drawn to spare-sounding samples, with just one or two elements that can be layered over the rest of an already existing track, and can be more easily and deeply manipulated. Something I used to do and haven’t for a while now, is just grab a whole chunk of a track and mess with it till it’s something else, and use that as a layer, sometimes the whole basis for a track (as in In The City)
WV: A ‘rule’ or guideline of sorts is also trying not to sample from within electronic music, because…what’s the fun in that?
Your most recent release, four short tracks for Blank Slate 013, has been described by some as the most danceable or club-ready music you’ve released so far. Did you make some of the tracks with your live set in mind?
WV: Not made for the live-set but it definitely has to do with DJing more. A lot more. And just that that’s the kind of music I actually listen to. Two of the faster, more groove-based tracks were originally meant for another project that fell through, which is why the titles are weird. I think there’s a lot more coming in that vein, they’re pretty raw and made really fast.
– Gabby Afable