Ahead of the release of their debut, self-titled LP, ALI X X XIMENA sat down with DMC World to offer a glimpse into their creative world which blurs the lines between conventional music, art and culture. The former Azari & iii artist in recent years has teamed up with Mexican vocalist and producer XIMENA to create, in their own words – ‘a powerhouse duo whose risky Spanglish techno-rap out of Mexico City cuts raw, rugged barrio street juice with laser sharp cultural rhetoric, radiated by a dominant visual element unique to their assay.’ With the album set for release next month via their own label ‘CONTROLLA Records’, the LP is accompanied by a forward-thinking range of remixes and a string of live / DJ shows set to follow.
What brought ALI X X XIMENA together? How did you meet and why did you start collaborating on music?
We had a real auspicious introduction, which came out of nowhere but with force. The energetic fireworks that instantly went off between us lent themselves to creative pursuit almost instantly.
ALI – Tell us about your move to Mexico City? What drew you to the city, what do you like about it, what are your favourite neighbourhoods, how does it compare to Toronto?
Comparing Mexico to Toronto would be very difficult, they are both the biggest city in their respective country, and that’s where the comparison end! I was living in Milan and London for a few years before I came here and I’ll say this, there is a lot more breathing room here, at least for someone like me, a rabid individualist with little love for the law. If you want a nice family friendly neighbourhood to catch the sunset and a helado con churros after dark, try Tepito.
In relation to the rest of Latin America, Mexico has a very unique aesthetic. The imagery, colours, and styles retain a strong homage to native cultures balanced with modern, western influences. Do you think this is something that can be held onto despite ever-growing globalisation?
The peyote which inspired many of the indigenous art forms is currently under the threat of extinction from development. Climate change is an example of the danger this, and any surviving indigenous culture faces this. But we don’t cling to the material status of things, remember that everything, always, is in flux. The only thing that is certain, is change, that perpetual shifting of the ground beneath us, we are freer than being saddled with certainty.
How do you think this balance is struck on your forthcoming debut album? What elements from different artistic styles most influenced what sound you wanted to encompass?
Not so much styles as feels, vibes. We come from the fat chunky big studio sound; we maintain that in our workflow. We get jiggy and pissy and chaotic and sexual and intoxicated with it. We channel. We disappear into our void and re-emerge. Whatever the results, that deep familiarity and connection to the otherness yields, this is but a small sampling.
There have already been 15 remixes of ‘Patitos’ ranging from deep house to techno, what makes this song so easy to remix and so adaptable to so many genres?
Well, it’s a pretty linear track hehe, and it’s got the Latina DIY f**k the world thing going on. So, our people are behind it….and it like ya. We have lot of people around us doing the dance beats in the dark and jerky way we like them, so we don’t mind having a shit load of remixes to float out there. The latest remixes for the single ‘Low Vibrations’ have just been released featuring a host of artists including Nastia 6.9 and Ghoster.
What do you generally look for when an artist wishes to remix your tracks?
It’s all over the place really, maybe we don’t like your stuff, but you are a good friend and we figure someone out there will dig it. Or maybe we’ve been hunting your contact down for a year and going to have to actually pay you money for the mix, haha, or maybe you’re just the same reliable hard knocker we always up on.
Your label, Controlla Records, has a very diverse soundscape. Who are some key artists to keep an eye on?
Lil Zoid, some nice freaky sh*t right there, his debut will be soon. We got another from Pvlomo with a bunch of collabs with some ill cats. Not on Controlla but check out Black _ (Black Space), they have this rad machine funk that zaps at you real prickly.
Many Latin youths living in English-speaking parts of North America tend to struggle with finding a sense of identity. Do you think that Controlla helps break the barrier between what is and isn’t considered “Latin”?
We f**king hope so. Just before this plague shit, we were playing up in NYC and LA and SF, and man, Latin culture is vital and vibrant and all over, and we are Spanglish you know. Anyone can pick up some Spanish culture and language and get down, just like we share in other cultures. We are all in this together now don’t forget. It’s so f**ked up. Whoever is at the helm of this hellish tirade is doing to divide us, and we not talking about f**k face in particular, though he is a clear indicator of where we are at.
What is your favourite Mexican musical subculture?
Throughout all of Latin America, heavy music has always been popular – the likes of The Ramones, Metallica, and Guns & Roses have seen massive crowds at their concerts over the years. Why do you think this could be, and do you believe there is another genre starting to take over that niche?
Something about how Western culture came here in full force with radio and TV post war, the rock and roll came then and was a bastion of the US influence on that century’s Mexican identity. It’s shifting away from that now, like everywhere, everybody is a f**king DJ…