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The Mexican Institute of Sound is not an institute, nor is it much of a band. Rather, it is the side project of one man, a Mexico City–based record company executive named Camilo Lara, whom I first became aware of from the soundtrack to the Alfonso Cuarón film Y Tu Mamá También.

“Alfonso called me because we had a lot of friends in common,” Lara emails from Mexico City. “When we met, we had an instant connection. I was 100% involved in the selection of the soundtrack with Alfonso.”

Lara has a huge record collection. He started collecting when he was eight, the story goes, and now has over 50,000 albums. The tracks Lara chose to include were a brilliant match with the film’s outrageous sexuality, everything from Zappa to Café Tacuba to Natalie Imbruglia. Lara and Alfonso also started Suave, the first Mexican indie label. Lara’s day job prior to Suave was as an executive with EMI of Mexico. When Suave broke apart, Lara went back to EMI.

What’s up with the name, the Mexican Institute of Sound? “I love that all the people [at MIS shows] expect a whole bunch of people,” he says, “and it is just me.” MIS is part of the Mexican electronica movement of the past decade. Along with groups like the Nortec Collective, the new sound is a club phenomenon as identifiable and localized to Mexico City as house is to Chicago or trip-hop is to London. It is a chaotic and highly alternative mix of juiced-up vintage sounds like cumbia and mariachi and mambo set to hip-hop beats and torched with electronics and samples.

I ask the Coachella veteran what his DJ set in San Diego will be like. “Lots of cumbia and electronic music. Frenetic tracks. Music to dance to, like a pagan party. Naked people. Total sin. Ha!”

MEXICAN INSTITUTE OF SOUND: Anthology, Friday, March 12, 9:30 p.m. 619-595-0300. $15.

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Comments

David Dodd March 11, 2010 @ 10:11 p.m.

"..also started Suave, the first Mexican indie label."

Oh, hell I could debate this with you all day long, Mexico had tons of small labels before Suave. And, my main reason for comment, Nortec isn't based in Mexico City, they're from Tijuana. But kudos, sin embargo, for writing a short about the Mexcio pop scene, mad props for that.

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Dave Good March 24, 2010 @ 12:44 a.m.

Ah, man, I'm not sure about indie labels in Mex...Lara claimed that he and his partner were first w/Suave. I'm interested in your take on who you think actually came before them. As far as the Nortec comment, you are right - they are a Tijuana band...but years ago, when I spoke to Panoptica he told me the goal was to make a club sound that would be identified with Mexico City. That's where that notion came from. In total agreement that the pop scene in Mex is hip and under-reported. Nacional Records in LA is kind of a ground zero for what's going on down there in terms of PR and publicity.

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