Rebolledo: Trying to make the world a better place

Rebolledo about plans for new music, impressions from the last Burning Man, Mayan Warrior mission, and other interesting stuff

Mauricio Rebolledo is one of the most notable dj’s and musical producers in the world of modern dance music. He got recognized by the lovers of contemporary sound through an impressive number of interesting releases on leading electronic music labels like Kompakt as well as through running his own label with a sarcastic name Hippie Dance.

Besides being an actively touring dj and a fruitful musical producer, Rebolledo is also known as a musical curator of probably one of the most significant musical stages on the famous Burning Man festival called Mayan Warrior. His deep and thoughtful sets that he plays annually on the top of Mayan Warrior на art-car on the festivals closing ceremony already became for many impressionable beings a life changing experience. Rebolledo is also a co-owner of two famous clubs in Mexico – TOPAZdeluxe in Monterrey and M.N. Roy in Mexico city.

We had a lucky chance to chat with Rebolledo about the specifics of the sound of electronic music in his home country Mexico, the idea and mission of Mayan Warrior, impressions from last Burning Man, plans for new music and some other interesting things

Interview: Dmitry Tolkunov

Hi! It would be interesting to know what you have been up to recently in your musical production – any interesting releases in plans?

Hi! Lately I was working on a remix for M.A.N.D.Y, they are re-releasing one of their classical tracks from 2000’s and asked me to do a remix for it, I was very excited about it as if they are my really good friends and I really like this track as well. I’m also working on a new track for the Kompakt labels compilation called “Velvet Desert”.

As for my label Hippie Dance I have in plans to release soon some great music of Lasser Drakar who we can say is an electronic music veteran here in Mexico, it will be some amazing stuff that he have done in the beginning of 200’s but it never got released, it will come out in November.

I’m also working on a new track for the Kompakt labels compilation called “Velvet Desert”

And we started to work little by little on with Superpitcher on some ideas and recording for the new Pachanga Boys album, we are taking it easy and not in a rush with it.

You have not done no new Pachanga Boys music for a while. Do you personally enjoy more to work on music alone or in the way of duet when you are crossing your skills and ideas with another person, like you are doing with Superpitcher in Pachanga Boys?

I enjoy both ways. It always really nice and special to work together with Superpitcher on Pachanga Boys, the flow is very good, I like this crossing of ideas and how we put all the things together, it all goes very well. The only thing it all usually takes a long time as we are living in different countries and we like to sit together when we are working on a new stuff, sending audio files to each other does not work for us.

Seating alone and working on music is great too, but it feels more like work than when you are doing the stuff together with somebody, this crossing of ideas always makes things much more dynamic.

The new Pachanga Boys will album be released on Hippie Dance as well?

Yes for sure.

Do you think that the name of your label reflects much the spirit of Burning Man festival in which you are heavily involved with curating the Mayan Warrior stage?

When we launched the label with Superpitcher we had never been to Burning Man at that moment, didn’t have any connections with it and didn’t know much about the festival. It was more like a sarcastic thing, a joke and a fun name. But things happened in such a way that right now the name of the label fits well into the festival spirit.

Besides of doing music you are known as a club owner and organizer of your own party’s – anything new in this field?

I’m pushing at the moment my party’s that are called Rated R. I have always some special guests there. In September I did a little tour in Mexico with this party’s with only Mexican artists. And just before I had a little tour of Rated R with my German friends Panthera Krause and Peter Invasion. And I’m planning to do some other Rated R party’s next year, seems that there will be one in Moscow and some events in the USA.

And I’m still a partner in two clubs in Mexico. One of them is TOPAZ deluxe in Monterrey which is already going for 12 years and the other is club M. N. ROY in Mexico City.

Is it hard to combine a job of a dj and musical producer with a role of a club owner?

Of course for all my clubs I have partners and they are the people who run them. My role is mostly to make the program for the guests and to put the creative direction. I really enjoy it and like to bring different musical experiences to the people. I’m not really involved in financial operations and being a club owner does not take much of my time.

Do you think the music on your party’s and in your clubs as well as your own music carries a touch of a specific Mexican sound?

I don’t know if my own music have this Mexican sound, many people say that yes it has, but I don’t hear it. Actually I lived in Europe for 10 years and moved back to Mexico a little bit more than a year ago and I still tour a lot in Europe and spend a lot of time there, in a few days I’m going there for a month. So I believe my music can have some Mexican sound if people hear it. And there of course a lot of great producers here with recognizable sound that could be described as Mexican.

How can you describe the characteristics and specific of this Mexican sound and does the sound of the Mayan Warrior stage that you curate on Burning Man festival reflect them generally?

Well on Mayan Warrior we have a lot of international guests and some Mexican artist’s showcases as well. But think the general characteristics of Mayan Warrior sound became a bit a signature of the Mexican sound, it’s a kind of dreamy, psychedelic, always moving forward, futuristic and dry. Mayan Warrior certainly became a serious platform that is showing this kind of music to the world.

Don’t you think that in some ways this tendencies in electronic music puts it too much in to a comfort zone and making it less avant-garde and futuristic as it meant to be? If for example Detroit techno and English acid house was the soundtrack of massive social and cultural changes and was delivering absolutely new musical forms, this new kind of Burning Man’s style music has a too compromise sound, there is nothing new and groundbreaking in it, it does not deliver nothing new and puts people in some ways to cheesy fantasy land where everything is nice and comfortable.

Yes I feel it. Electronic dance music became so popular that many people are making in a much easier way for big audiences. I don’t know is it a good or a bad thing, think it’s more a matter of taste. Still a lot of people are doing more complex underground stuff. But on another hand for sure more and more people started to do music with a comfortable kind of ethical sound that pleases everybody.

How did you find Mayan Warrior this summer on Burning Man and the hall festival as well?

I was amazing as always, it was my seventh time on Burning Man. The vibe was really good and I had two great shows there.

What were the musical highlights on Mayan Warrior stage this year for you?

It was really nice to hear a hybrid show from WhoMadeWho, they made a special kind of half dj half live show for Burning Man and performed all their original stuff in this kind of a way on the sunset, it was a really nice show.

One of the highlights for me was also Peter Invasion. We invited him for the first time, he was playing on the last night and was really amazing.

Panthera Krause was really good. He gave a fresh twist to Mayan Warrior on with his set, he played a lot of classical, old school stuff from the 90s. To be honest I don’t like much 90s house and when it is too obvious it goes on my nerves. But he plays and presents in a really great and particular way, his set was amazing.

When you form a line up for Mayan Warrior each year, do you always follow a strict schedule or there could be a kind of improvisation in the scenario?

We definitely try to make as much sense of it as it is possible. I’m curating the musical program for Mayan Warrior with Damian Romero. We always sit and talk before the festival and put on the table all our ideas about artists that we want to invite to the festival this year – about ones who played before many times and the ones that we want to have for the first time. Then we construct all these pieces into a line up and we always try to put in it as much sense as possible and to follow a context. For example on Monday, on the day of the festival’s opening we always try to do a day with the most happy and celebrative sound and one of the first opening sets is always played on the opening is by Mental which is collaboration project by me and Damian Romero.

Any of the nights of Mayan Warrior on Burning Man follows some concept

And on the last day when the stage moves to the place when the burning ritual happens, I always pick up some special music, which is not like just dance music, it’s more like a soundtrack for the moment. After the burn happens the last night is very important too, I’m always curating it and try to put carefully together all the artists and make all them to sound like a parts of one big set.

And any of the nights of Mayan Warrior on Burning Man follows some concept and is made not just a party with one artists playing after another, but more like one big experience.

And you always play after the burning ritual, we can say that it became your own personal ritual and tradition?

For the last seven years I played each closing night. I was doing it on my own or with somebody back to back as well. Don’t know if I will keep things always the same way, as we like to mix things maybe at some moment I will give somebody a chance to have the same experience.

For the last seven years I played each closing night

Playing on the closing night must be an epic moment?

It really is, the vibe on the closing night is always super good and everybody are there, the best crowd you can imagine.

If to talk about the concept and the mission of Mayan Warrior – I understand that “Warrior” here has a more a kind of metaphorical meaning, not a straight one. But if to continue to talk in this metaphorical way – what is battlefield of the Mayan Warrior?

Well it’s hard to put it into words, but generally I think the mission of Mayan Warrior is trying to make the world a better place through music and art and fighting against all this bullshit that the world is full of at the moment by changing it through building a beautiful environment and sending positive vibes.

So it’s more kind of a spiritual war?

Totally, it has nothing to do with violence, it is about pushing music and art and fighting with all that sad things that are going on in the world with a positive stuff.

Have you been involved in Mayan Warrior from the first days?

Mayan Warrior was started by its founder Pablo Gonzales. He went first to Burning Man festival in 2011 and was super inspired. In 2012 he brought the first version of Mayan Warrior stage to the festival. As you remember it was a year when Mayan calendar was coming to an end and there was a lot of talks about it. So he decided to create a stage that was very significant for that time and really associated with Mexico. First year the stage had a very similar design to the one we have now, but it was much smaller and mostly only friends played there. It was a much smaller production.

In 2013 he made a big stage on bigger bus, the same that we have now. It was the first year when I played there like a guest, It was already amazing but still didn’t had a proper musical concept and direction. After it I talked with Pablo and offered him myself and Damian Romero who is an experienced producer that does a beautiful festival Mutek in Mexico, as persons who can look after the musical direction of the Mayan Warrior stage. At that time I already had an idea that Mayan Warrior needs to have some specific tracks that are associated with the stage and next year I made a track “Here Comes The Warrior” that is always played on the truck when it is cruising in to the desert. Since 2014 the hall musical concept and direction of Mayan Warrior became very shaped and round and me with Damian Romero started to curate it.

Besides the music the powerful side of Mayan Warrior stage on Burning Man that impressed people much is the visual aspect, the way it looks. Do you have the same design of the stage for each year or you change it a bit?

Every year the stage design changes a bit – the warriors face, the lights, some little decorations. It is mutating a bit from year to year.

And sometimes Pablo does some other special installations that are necessary relates to the warrior but fits really well into the festivals vibe, like for example 2 years ago he has done a very impressive installation Ilumina.

And sometimes Pablo does some other special installations

We are working now on some ideas for new installations that will help to complete the Mayan Warrior experience as well as looking forward for some collaborations with other people.

Besides of an annual camp on Burning Man, you do international Mayan Warrior events in different cities and countries, can you tell a bit about how are they organized?

This events are organized like crowdfunding campaigns. We have to do them or funding Mayan Warrior camp each year, as it is a lot of expenses, around 40-50 people work on it, it all costs a lot of money – constructing a camp, bringing the Mayan Warrior car. And as you know nothing comes back as Burning Man is a non-profit festival, it is not a business model.

In what countries have you had the most memorable Mayan Warrior events from now on?

The ones in Moscow where always super good. Actually, Moscow was one of the first places where we did an international Mayan Warrior event. The ones that we did in New York in the last two years were really great and massive as well and it’s good that we had an opportunity to bring there the Mayan Warrior car.

Moscow was one of the first places where we did an international Mayan Warrior event

The one we have in Tulum war really good too. Nevermind that Tulum and the party crowd became too touristy these days, the party had a special vibe and feeling as it took place by the sea.

Besides of touring with Mayan Warrior party’s you are touring a lot on your own. Do you have some favorite places where you like to perform most of all?

It is always a difficult questions, all the places where I go are so different from one to the other. There is a lot of big festivals where I like to perform as well there is a lot of small venues and shows which I enjoy a lot too.

But one of the biggest impressions of the last few years is a really small party in Portland I played a couple of years ago, it is called Limited Edition, it is for 100 people only and the entrance to it is strictly only by invitations. They use their vintage analogue soundsystem, it is a very special event. I’m going to play there again in November, this time with Superpitcher like Pachanga Boys and I’m really looking forward to it.

Playing in classical legendary clubs like Robert Johnson in Frankfurt and Panorama Bar in Berlin is always a good experience too. The audience in Barcelona is always really nice, does not matter where, it can be a big festival or a small underground venue. In Mexico I really enjoy to play in my club TOPAZdeluxe, not only because it is my club, but just because it is one of the greatest places to play and of lot dj’s that I invite there agrees with it.

Every time I go to ADE festival there I’m having a fantastic time

Amsterdam is always amazing, every time I go to ADE festival there I’m having a fantastic time. And there is a lot of other good festivals and great clubs there. Actually I’m going this week to Amsterdam to play on a Boiler Room event.

Basically this are the special places where I really enjoy to play.

Have you ever had an opportunity to play in Pyrenees region?

To be honest I have never been to Pyrenees, but I would certainly would love to play to the people that will be interested in me there. I’m always happy to go to different places.

Hope that we will have sooner or later an opportunity to listen to your wonderful live set somewhere in Pyrenees and thank you for this interesting talk.

Hope so too. Thank you

Read more: The sound of music with Dmitry Tolkunov ...