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Tijuana is the Mexican border city that’s squashed between the Pacific Ocean and the majestically oppressive US border fence. ‘TJ’, as it’s commonly called, has long been known as a party town, thanks to its proximity to the American metropolises of Los Angeles and San Diego and its more lenient attitude towards late-night and under-age drinking. But look through its dubious reputation, and you’ll see Tijuana as a beautifully vibrant and bubbling melting pot of different cultures, which has spawned some unique styles in everything from art to food — TJ tacos are to die for — and of course, music.
Key players in the Tijuana cultural groundswell are Nortec Collective, a crew of local electronic music artists who joined forces in May 1999. They rose to prominence though their pioneering way of blending traditional norteño and tambora samples mixed with the musical aesthetics of techno (hence nor-tec). It all started when Pepe Mogt (Fussible) got the idea of mixing these elements and prepared a library of sounds made up of samples taken from multitrack recording sessions of the most popular norteño recording studio at the time, using these sounds members of the collective started experimenting in search of a new movement. Soon after, Ramon Amezcua (Bostich) amazed everyone with his track ‘Polaris’, credited with defining the nortec sound.
The collective soon realised they had something special going on, and through their wider membership of designers, video makers, writers, and artists, who provided an immersive backdrop to the nortec sound, they transformed themselves into an authentic cultural movement and also the figureheads of the first original electronic music scene from Mexico and Latin America to reach international success. In 2008 Nortec Collective disbanded and separated into different projects. Founding members Pepe Mogt and Ramon Amezcua continued as Nortec Collective Presents: Bostich + Fussible, and have been touring and playing in the biggest stages all over the world ever since. The duo’s Grammy-nominated debut album Tijuana Sound Machine shows an evolution in their sound, adding elements of Italo Disco, mid-80s English electro-pop and krautrock mixed with a norteño sound that becomes more organic with the addition of live instrumentation. Their second album Bulevar 2000, also received a Latin Grammy nomination, and represents the second chapter of the electronic music production duo’s musical trilogy that comes to an end with 2014’s Motel Baja. Described as ¨the end of the nortec sound¨ by Pepe and Ramon, the album combines elements of the Collective’s initial sounds, heavier use of analogue synths and drum machines, and special collaborations including Wolfgang Flür (Kraftwerk), Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz (Talking Heads, Tom Club), and Uwe Schmidt, aka Atom™, Señor Coconut.
Novation synths have played a part of the Nortec Collective sound for many years. From the original Bass Station Rack to the Supernova, the Novation sound has appeared time and again. Bostich proudly jams with his Bass Station Rack, a Roland TR606 and an Electro-Harmonix Memory Man in this YouTube video (http://youtu.be/q53fiBdUP6w), and today, the guys use the Bass Station II in the studio — check out the video below for more.
In 2015, Bostich + Fussible will return to Coachella, 14 years after performing at the festival for the first time, and also headline Vive Latino, one of the biggest music festivals in Mexico. A farewell tour to mark the release of Motel Baja and 15 years of the nortec sound will see Pepe and Ramon play in venues around the world.