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Sr. Amable Conveys Reality of Mexican Drug War

Sr. Amable blends lo-fi, IDM, and folk with bittersweet melodies to create a message of togetherness for the young people who live in fear in Mexico and realize that they are not alone.

Born in Chihuahua, Mexico, Sr. Amable, aka Andrés Murillo, creates a sound that is indistinct to any region. Although he attributes his lo-fi sound to his time spent with his father listening to a local Mexican folkloric radio station called Radio Ranchito, his mother’s Beatles vinyl and brother’s CD collection ranging from Devo to Mogwai provided Sr. Amable with an introduction to a number of musical genres that he was able to blend and build a sound from. In an interview with Region Cuatro, Sr. Amable recalls how his family's strong musical influence led him to receive his first acoustic guitar. He began playing the guitar and creating melodies with it but realized that, “the musician concept does not bring me much enthusiasm. I prefer to be seen as a guy who cuts and pastes musical moments to create pieces.” Today, Sr. Amable’s music is a mixture of the acoustic guitar and production tools that make up the IDM sound in his music.

Sr. Amable defines himself as a “pop escapist.” While his music can't be classified into one genre, he impeccably assembles hints of lo-fi, pop, folk, and IDM. A key component of his music is the content that addresses the social and political issues in Mexico.

While there are many Northern Mexican musicians who glorify and celebrate the most horrifying aspects of the drug war, Sr. Amable's lyrics reflect the struggles and everyday conditions of a country plagued by drug-related violence. The violence that ensued between narcotraficantes and the Mexican Government peaked between 2008 and 2011 and was particularly prevalent in Northern Mexico.

In his song with Piyama Party, “Deporte Extremo Es Salir,” he addresses the fear and paranoia that was widespread in Northern Mexico during this period due to the Mexican drug war. In an interview with Zachary Jones, Sr. Amable expresses how, “kidnapping, murder in any area, shootings, corruption, extortion, assault with a deadly weapon affect me because they do not allow me to go out into the streets and feel safe, it affects me because several young friends have died unjustly and their crimes have gone unpunished.” Although, the melodies in “Deporte Extremo Es Salir” are playful and the video for the song depicts a fun house party, the song addresses the everyday terror and insecurity that is still common in Northern Mexico to this day.

As the country’s state of conflict has slightly subsided from the peak years between 2008 and 2011, citizens of Mexico still continue to feel the effects of the drug war. Sr. Amable’s music has provided him a space to cope with and find an escape from the conditions in Mexico.

Sr. Amable Q & A

Q. How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t heard it before?

A. My music is very informed by touch. It's music in which you can find a lot of textures and sensations, most often related to desserts and cream. And the melodies, other that sad or happy, tend to be bittersweet.

Q. How has your upbringing in Chihuahua influenced the content and sound of your music?

A. Chihuahua is a very spacious city but not very populated, so it's quite easy to feel isolated and misunderstood. I think this had a definite influence on my approach to music and helped define the way I write songs.

Q. What music did you listen to growing up and where did you first hear this music?

A. As a kid I listened a lot to The Beatles in vinyl, thanks to my mother, at home before going to school. I also remember the sound of the AM radio when my father took me to his job, he used to listen to a station called Radio Ranchito, which played Mexican folkloric music. That lo-fi sound would also affect the way I record and produce.

Q. How are you able to blend these sounds with the music of Chihuahua?

A. I really don't know what could be the "official" music from Chihuahua, but all this time my intention has been to mix and match all my influences with what this city and this country make me feel, and do my best to be coherent and honest.

Q. What is the lo-fi/folk music scene like in Northern Mexico?

A. In general (beyond just lo-fi or folk), the music scene in Northern Mexico is small but there's a lot of support among bands which, usually, share members. In my opinion, right now is a very good time for the independent music scene even though it isn't that big.

Q. What artists would you recommend to listeners who want to hear music from Northern Mexico outside of the Norteño genre?

A. From Chihuahua I recommend Maw, The Mueres, Et, Salvaje, Los Vikingos del Norte, Dromedarios Mágicos, Bill Yonson. From other northern states I would recommend Los Mundos, Mr. Racoon (Monterrey, Nuevo León), El Gil (Hermosillo, Sonora), Juan Cirerol (Mexicali, Baja California), Estamos Fritos (San Luis Potosí) y Piyama Party (Monclova, Coahuila). There are many many more but these are the ones that spring to mind right now.

Q. “Deporte Extremo Es Salir” is a very lighthearted and fun video, but the song has a serious subject. What does the song say about the current political situation in Mexico, and what is the context behind the video?

A. Personally, I've written a lot of songs about fear and the paranoia of stepping on the streets, most of all between 2008 and 2011, when the collateral violence between the government and the narco reached an all-time high in Northern Mexico. "Deporte Extremo es Salir" is one of the songs about that topic, in which, taking advantage of the good humor of Luis Angel Martinez from Piyama Party, we made the song more playful and relaxed to laugh a little about the situation and the obstacles you had to avoid to have a house party with your friends. Patricio Hinojosa had the idea for the video and it was filmed in Monterrey, there are some special cameos in it, you can see Alexico, Leo from Bam Bam, Santi from Uvi.lov, Luis, and Richie and Carlos (members of Piyama Party), among other celebrities from the independent scene of Nuevo León. I wasn't able to attend the party but they had a picture of me, which I've always found very funny and I'm also very thankful for it.

Q. How has living in Northern Mexico during the recent outbreaks of violence affected your music and how do you address/portray these situations? How has your music been an outlet for you?

A. In some review I was described as a pop escapist and I think it's a suitable term. Music has helped me deal with depression living in a place like this [and has] given me a chance to escape through melodies. But this adverse situation has also helped me create, so in a way I have found balance. I must point out that things are slightly better these days.

Q. What message do you want people around the world to learn from your music and this video?

A. The song ends with the line "sigamos por aquí que igual nos vamos a morir, deporte extremo es salir." It's something similar to YOLO, though I'm not a fan of YOLO. This song tries to bring a message of togetherness, to get the people living in fear (especially young people) to come together and confront it, and realize they're not alone.

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