Porter Seeks to Instill Historic Curiosity | KCET
Porter Seeks to Instill Historic Curiosity
It didn’t take very long for Porter to gain presence in the Mexican alternative music landscape. Formed in 2004, the Guadalajara-based experimental rock outfit took the stage at the 2007 edition of the Vive Latino festival before their debut, full-length album “Atemahawke” had been officially released. Then, the quintet explored dreamy and galactic themes. Their particular brand of psychedelia distinguished the group, attracting a fan base that included music critics and established members of the country’s rock scene.
Less than a year later, though, as quickly as they had ascended into popularity, Porter would be no more. Directional differences affected the group. The band went on to play at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in 2008, only to disband following the performance.
Years later, the 2013 iteration of Vive Latino brought the rockers back together. But creative discordance persisted in the band, leading to the withdrawal of lyricist and vocalist Juan Son. After his departure, bassist Diego "Bacter" Rangel, guitarists Fernando "Fehr" de la Huerta and Victor "Villor" Valverde, and drummer Juan Pablo "Chata" Vázquez decided they would continue making music as a collective. A search for a lead singer resulted in local singer-songwriter David Velasco joining the group.
With a new front man, Porter has embarked on a new direction. While past projects had them navigating space, now the group has landed, and they didn’t have to travel very far for inspiration.
Seven years after the debut of “Atemahawke,” their sophomore album “Moctezuma” is both a celebration and an examination of Mexico’s complex and rich history.
Porter Q & A
Porter originates from Guadalajara, Jalisco. What should fans who are not familiar with your city know about the people and culture of the region?
Guadalajara is the land of tequila, of circular pyramids called guachimontones. It's surrounded by beautiful towns such as Tapalpa, Chapala (which is best known as the Mexican California -- a huge community of people of U.S. living there). Guadalajara is best known in Mexico for being a pioneer on arts and crafts, music, and gastronomy.
After being away from the music scene for some years, and experiencing a change in your lineup, what has it been like to make music and tour again?
It's been a challenge, an exciting journey. We are mutating as a band, and we love that because it gives us a chance on experimentation. We are walking in the same direction and interests, and that's something we have never done before as a group. [We] think people can feel that when we are playing live.
It’s natural for any band’s sound to evolve over time. How has Porter’s sound changed?
Of course, it is one of our main statements "to be always moving." We used to focus on surreal pop melodies, childish lyrics, and bizarre sounds. Right now we are more focused on deep poetics, pre-Hispanic stories, well-studied sounds, more into noise pop, electronic mixed with rock. Still "surreal"... that term keeps intact.
You’ve released two music videos for the album “Moctezuma." What does the video for “Huitzil” portray? Where was the video filmed?
The video is a re-interpretation of the conquest of Mexico, and at the same time an analogy of the a contemporary conquest: Media and TV conquest. It was filmed near Guadalajara, in [the] Juanacatlán woods and Villa Corona lake.
What’s the concept behind the video for “Palapa”? Describe the ceremony that takes place.
It's a pre-Hispanic ceremony: the "dance to the sun," the "dance to the moon," "dance to the fire." [It] talks about the initiation of a new era for Porter. The leader is a real chaman called Katuza, [who] lead us throughout the ceremony process. It was a beautiful experience, we dance[d] all day long. It was the most tiring day of our lives.
In many ways “Moctezuma” seems to showcase Mexico, with references to history, peoples and traditions. Tell us about the ideology behind the record.
We wanted to make a record that could talk about our country's cultural roots, but from a contemporary musical perspective, taking a 180 degrees turn on what we used to do. In a magical way, the name "Moctezuma" appeared to us in the process of conceiving the album. The songs in the album tell stories about the conquest, the Aztecs arriving to Tenochtitlán, the spanish cultural shock, and also some personal stories contextualized in that time. We feel proud about our culture, about our roots, and from there the importance of spreading a message with deep profound meaning about ourselves. The message is encrypted inside that album.
Are you currently listening to any Mexican bands? Which ones?
Yes of course, some of the latest ones [we've] heard are: Clubz, Little Jesus, I Can Chase Dragons, Baltazar, Dorotheo.
From the Coachella Music Festival to participating in South by Southwest, and performing at smaller venues as well, what has it been like to perform for American audiences?
It's like approaching a very well informed audience in musical terms. A critical one, but looking forward to be surprised, to be amazed, to hear something fresh. We have connected with a lot of American people. They love to hear something that seems to be happening far away, sounds that they are not that used to, but that at the same time is at a great standard level of production.
Ultimately, what do you want to transmit to the world with your music?
Spread the richness of our culture to all the world, so it can inspire people to know more about their historical background. "Knowing from where you come is knowing where you are heading."
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