"I actually have a mafioso in my neighborhood," says electronica artist El Poeta (Angelo Gastelum). Last month, the techno-savvy laptop whiz went freelance as a Web designer so he could concentrate on music. He and his wife moved to the Playas suburb of Tijuana.
"I wondered why all these well-dressed Mexicans at this one house would be outside drinking beer and all these Range Rovers and Mercedes and Jaguars would be there. Their house was 100 percent completely in order like a U.S. tract home. Then I finally figured out what was up when every single one of their windows was triple tinted."
Gastelum, 26, a San Diego native who has performed at the Casbah and other places around town, says he wanted to soak up TJ.
"I went for inspiration. Latin America is a very beautiful, inclusive place with cultural festivals and parties. There's also a downside. At the end of the night when everyone is drunk is when all the drama comes out. Organized crime is completely out of control."
The Imputor? Records label -- based here and in Seattle -- recently released Gastelum's Musically Speaking EP. He hopes to get his music into movie soundtracks or TV commercials. Tracks by Imputor?'s other artists have been licensed to the Discovery Channel and MTV.
When Gastelum performs live, he throws in well-known riffs from movie soundtracks and old records. When he plays the Kadan in North Park, he adds "a band and a couple of DJs." He says an aspiring "laptop" artist can get up and running with $6000 in computer equipment and $400 for a program called Ableton Live.
"When this laptop thing started four years ago, there was a high potential for a computer crash. It only happened to me once. It was at the end of a show. It went bub-bub-bub-bub-bub, and that was it. Everyone thought it was part of the show. I now have a ten-gigabyte hard drive."
El Poeta (www.elpoeta.org) performs at 10 p.m. Tuesday at the Whistle Stop Bar in South Park and at 9 p.m. on July 30 at Kadan in North Park. Both are 21 and up, free admission.