We fell in love with Mexican Radio on first hearing them and can't wait for them to join the stellar lineup for our first festival. Buckle in for their rip-roaring set full of characteristically jagged post-punk edges and frothing-at-the-mouth ferocity.
Tell us a little about your band.
Mexican Radio is a Berlin-based synth-punk trio made up of me, Dyan Valdés (synths/vocals), Nathaniel Fregoso (synths/vocals), and Hannes Neupert (drums/vocals). We started as a German-language The Fall cover band called Der Sturz, and after about six months of living and breathing The Fall songs, we decided to start writing original music inspired by the same irreverent post-punk style. We established strict rules for ourselves: we exclusively play synths (no guitars), all recording must be done live and analog, no love songs, and we only appear in uniform: white shirts with red lightning bolts sprayed across them.
The goal is to create a unique sonic and visual concept that brings people into the world of Mexican Radio. We shout lyrics about Russian literature, performance art, and Berlin nightlife over cheap synthesisers run through distorted amps, and invite everyone to temporarily leave their day-to-day troubles and tune into our show. Our world is high energy, fast, loud, and gritty, sometimes verging on surreal. Everything we do is an argument in support of the Mexican Radio synth-punk vision, and if it doesn’t fit, we don’t do it.
What’s been your best moment as a band?
In February, we kicked off our own monthly radio show: The Mexican Radio Radio Show, where we interview and play music from bands old and new with a similar synth-punk or post-punk aesthetic. The three of us spend a lot of time listening to records together and talking about them (usually after band practice, with a Berliner Kindl in hand), so we figured we would open up the doors and invite people to join us. I’ve gotten to interview some excellent musicians for the show: David Nance, Ian Svenonius, Ezra Furman, Alex Kapranos, which has been a great opportunity to chat with people whose work I respect about the kind of music we love. The Mexican Radio Radio Show gives us another platform to embrace our love of lo-fi and high-energy post-punk music, and has pushed us to write even better music to justify our place in that canon.
How do you prepare for a gig?
Usually by listening to some very loud music. We put on our uniforms and set up our stage; we have a banner that we spray painted on the back of an old map of the plumbing systems of Reinickendorf, which we always hang behind us. We also have a special Mexican Radio lamp that Hannes, our drummer, soldered himself out of an old piece of scrap metal. He cut the letters “M” and “R” along with a lightning bolt and fitted the structure with a light bulb. It is our version of a radio station’s 'On Air' light. Whenever it is on, you know the show is in progress.
If you could have anyone in the audience at Bang On fest for your set, who would you choose and why?
Mark E. Smith. Although, let’s be honest, he probably would be standing at the bar with his back to us the whole time. But at least he would be there. And of course, because his presence would prove once and for all that ghosts are real.
What does Bang On Fest mean to you?
We love Bang On’s support of Berlin-based music, and in particular, of bands with female artists. As a female musician, I get frustrated time and again by both the lack of female representation in music and also by the shitty way that men (and sometimes other women) treat female musicians. Bang On is run by some bad-ass ladies who are doing what they want, listening to what they want, and promoting who they want. It’s DIY, it’s uncompromising, and it’s positive: we need more spaces like this.
Bang On Fest is all about promoting women in music. Favourite female artist?
It’s really difficult to say just one, although in keeping with Mexican Radio’s roots, I’d like to give a shout-out to Brix Smith. As the band’s lead guitarist and vocalist, she was the key architect of The Fall’s sound in their 1980s heyday, and doesn’t get nearly enough credit for creating what many people consider to be one of the best iterations of the band. Her music and vocals shaped some of my favourite The Fall songs, like 'L.A.' and '2 x 4'. She was also married to Mark E. Smith, and seems to have been one of the few people that could hold her own with him.
What can people look forward to about your set?
Absolute immersion in Mexican Radio’s synth-punk world. Loud energy, intense escapism.
Catch Mexican Radio at Bang On Fest, April 7th.