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Nortec Collective: Bositch & Fussible at The Ritz

In Music
TIJUANA BASS: The Nortec Collective continues to find success merging 808s and tubas.

TIJUANA BASS: The Nortec Collective continues to find success merging 808s and tubas.

Pepe Mogt, founder of the Tijuana-based electronic music collective Nortec, found his way into music like so many do these days—by messing around with found sounds on his computer. However, rather than digging through bargain record crates searching for break beats and horn punches, Mogt pulled many of his earliest samples scouring local studios for scraps of audio abandoned by the tambora and norteño bands that recorded them.

For the uninitiated, Nortec mixes the two genres from which it takes its name—norteño, a traditional polkalike folk music pioneered in northern Mexico, and techno. The combination is almost obvious once a song gets going, especially for fans of Rey Resurreccion’s 2014, banda-sampling banger, “The Hometown.” The accordions, tubas, double bass and bajo sexto traditionally found in norteño reemerge warped and looped alongside synthesizers and 808s.

The early 2000s saw the Nortec Collective put out a steady stream of compilations and projects before splintering. They won over fans and critics alike with albums like The Tijuana Sessions Vol. 1.

“Casino Soul,” an early composition of Mogt’s, encapsulates the album’s appeal perfectly. The unmistakable sound of a tambora drum kicks the track off before some rising synths gradually intensify, threatening to drown the rest of the song out before they are cut off by modulated vocals.

What follows is a jaunty track that oscillates between intricate synth progressions and sporadic bursts of trumpet. The two elements push and pull in a call-and-response until they intertwine, pushing the song to a slow fade-out.

That’s where we find Ramón Amezcua and Pepe Mogt, better known by their stage names—Bostich and Fussible, respectively.

“It all started as me inviting local friends to create compilations and put albums out as a collective,” Mogt says. “But after we all put out a few albums, we stopped doing as much as a group, mostly because some of them don’t put out their work as quickly as we do.”

As a duo, the two are definitely the most Nortec-y of the bunch. Amezcua is seen as a godfather of sorts for the movement, with his early compositions charting the path for the sounds the collective would go on to explore.

His song “Polaris,” a swirl of relentless percussion and burping horns, in particular is cited as the genesis of the Nortec sound. The track effectively fuses something ubiquitous with an aging form of traditional Mexican music.

Mogt says he was inspired to start the collective in the late ’90s after hearing norteño being played at his sister’s wedding. His earliest experiments came from manipulating samples of old banda sinaloense and norteño albums before deciding to look for more obscure source material on the cutting room floor of recording studios.

These days, instead of pulling samples, Mogt and Amezcua typically have musicians come to the studio and make recordings for them to chop up and manipulate later on.

The duo’s innovative blend of traditional Northern Mexican music with drum machines piqued the ears of the Cirque Du Soleil team. Bostich and Fussible composed the soundtrack for the Canadian circus troupe’s recent Mexico-theme show, Luzia, which passed through San Jose last year.

Mogt describes the connection as a happy accident. After playing a set at electronic music festival Mutek Montreal back in 2015, someone from Cirque Du Soleil’s camp approached the duo about producing a song for the Luzia album.

“They said they wanted the album to be different from the acoustic sound of the show itself by making it more contemporary and electronic,” Mogt says. “So they gave us the score and we made it Nortec.”

Mogt says for the time being the pair is back to working on a new project between shows. “Right now we’re working on something new, but we’re still in the studio,” he says. “We’ve come back to messing around with analog synthesizers and old-school 808 and 909 drum machines.”

There’s been some talk about their next release moving away from the traditional norteño sounds they’ve been tinkering with their entire careers, but he says they haven’t ruled anything out just yet. “It’s too soon to know for sure,” Mogt says. “We’re still a little too early in the creative process.”


Bostich and Fussible

Jan 12, 8pm, $20

The Ritz, San Jose



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