Carlos Icaza is a lot of things to a lot of people – the curator of all things Latin for Vampi Soul, traveling DJ extraordinaire, resident Tropicaza master for online radio station DUBLAB (celebrating their 10 year anniversary this week!), and a member of more bands than you can shake a dirty stick at (Evil Hippie, Los Fancy Free, etc.). Well, this fantastic gentleman is criss-crossing the country on a DJing extravaganza. He played New York last week, and after a quick stop on the top of Queen Anne for a certain someone’s betrothal, he’s in Seattle at the moment (before cruising down to SF and the soft green couch of one Not-An-Intern Noah) and he’s not wasting his time.
Mr. Icaza will be spinning tomorrow night (Tuesday) from 7:30 to 8:30 PM PST on Wo’Pop on KEXP with Darek Mazzone. If you haven’t heard a Carlos Icaza mix, you’re seriously missing out.
The good man sat down with us to answer a few questions about Mexico City, collecting records and the state of music in general.
LIGHT IN THE ATTIC: What was the impetus to scoot out of Mexico City for this sort of cross-continental journey across the United States?
CARLOS ICAZA: I love to share music, drinks, food, life, good times… the place does not matter really, but the people! There’s a still people who cares deeply about music all around, that makes me travel and encourages me to go on, like Light in the Attic!
LITA: How is it different being a record collector in Mexico than in United States?
CI: I don’t consider myself a record collector. I’m a music lover. Records can be found almost anywhere in the world, for cheap, if you have patience and dedication and a pair of ears to listen to them.. I don’t like to buy records on the internet or big record stores, for me there’s no point to do it. I like to FIND the records, or better, let the records find me.
LITA: You’re both a record collector, a DJ, a musician — I wonder what you’re working on? What have you been obsessing over? What are your many, many bands up to?
CI: I’ve been playing with lots of people over the years in Mexico City, lot’s of different music. What makes me play with someone is friendship and empathy first. The rest came naturally. I love DJing because I think there isn’t enough awesome music made nowadays as it used to be in the past and the only way we can notice that is comparing. If we want to make better music we need to listen to better music. I like to dj the kind of music that is good for listening and dancing at the same time, music that makes you shake even if you don’t dance at all.
LITA: Where does one go in Mexico City to unearth the rare gems? El Chopo perhaps?
CI: Chopo is not good anymore, in the 90’s it was great, but now kids only go there not for the music, but for clothes, posters, make up, to be seen there. Now it’s more of a social reunion than a place to find music, sadly.
LITA: I’ve heard you mention that a lot of the fantastic genres/artists/music that derives from Mexico, stays in Mexico. You seem to be one of the few arteries in terms of that music being spread, and I wonder if you think that will change.
CI: Hopefully yes, I’ve been trying to spread the word and make people dance and have a good time listening to this music. Some of this is in Spanish, but some in English too.
I want to prove that Latin American music was at least as crazy, far out and revolutionary in different forms as American-European was at the same time.
LITA: You live in a city of nearly 24 million people – how does one keep abreast of what’s up-and-coming in the music scene in a city that large?
CI: Maybe I’m not the most informed about what’s happening in Mexico right now but there’s a lot of young people looking forward for success in music and arts, some more gifted than others but certainly with a very short view of their own local music history. I’m looking forward to changing this by playing music that needs to be heard now and will serve as inspiration for the future.
LITA: What are your thoughts on the current state of the reissue?
CI: I found very interesting the work of labels like Light in the Attic, Numero Group and many more that are doing very meticulous work on compiling and putting out records in the best possible way, but also the labels that put out music that was lost and that needs to be listened as Electro Harmonix. Reissuing for me is to make holes through time and space, showing that there was a time when things were made in a different way, pointing at the complexity of the world we live in today but at the same time making noticeable the common things between all of us, old and young, like dancing and having a good time with soulful and timeless music by our side.