Tijuana Cartel

Tijuana Cartel

Gold Coast trip hop/breaks act Tijuana Cartel go to great lengths to find new sounds and recording techniques to bring out the best in their music. Their new album, the enigmatically titled24 Bit Guitar Orchestra, was partly recorded on a mountaintop in Bali, and band member Paul George, speaking from Brisbane Airport on the way to shows in Perth, is happy to tell us about the experience.

“I was living in Bali for a few months,” he recalls. “We heard on the grapevine that there was a guy that had sort of a makeshift studio on a mountain at the back of Bali. So we took all our gear up there and did a lot of recording. He had these traditional Balinese and Polynesian instruments, and we used them throughout. There’s actually quite a lot of them on the album.”

Being in such an exotic and unusual locale apparently unleashed a great spark of creativity for the group, and it resulted in an album full of many different colours, flavours and textures.

“Yeah, it did,” confirms George. “It was fun, the studio itself was outdoors, and we just sort of did it as we felt like it. It was really good to do that, just feel creative, like we were playing outdoors under the stars.”

Since the album was recorded in different locations and the band had a fairly relaxed approach to writing and recording it, 24 Bit Guitar Orchestra ended up taking a while to complete and release. “It’s taken probably two years of work, really,” says George. “It’s hard to say, but two years overall of doing it.”

Following the album’s release, Tijuana Cartel have big ambitions for themselves as a band, beyond simply touring the new material. “We’re looking at doing our own outdoor festival. One that we really enjoy playing at, with similar kind of acts, with a similar kind of idea. We’re looking at doing that, at this stage probably next year. And then we’ve got a really ambitious idea to do kind of a rock opera, an Alice In Wonderland type of thing. So all that’s going on – maybe we’re biting off more than we can chew, but that’s kinda half the fun, yeah?”

Before they start to fulfil those hefty ambitions, the Queenslanders have a rather extensive Australian tour to get through, including trips to some off-the-beaten-track centres across the country. “We can’t wait to get into it, we’re excited to play all the new songs, this is our first run at it. Generally we’re in very good spirits,” says George. “We’re getting to a few places we’ve never been to before. Places like Wollongong, and we’re going to Port Hedland … It’s good to see a bit more of Australia than we normally do, and get our music out more.”

And speaking of getting their music out more, Tijuana Cartel will not be limiting their touring endeavours to Australia – they’ll be heading overseas in 2015.

“It looks like we’re going to get back to Europe and America. Probably a month in each. We’re starting to go OK over there, so we want to get over there and keep going back. We’re starting to get some festivals over there and we’ve got some interest from a management team over there, which we’re chasing. We’ve got enough [support] over there to get over there and make it worthwhile.”

24 Bit Guitar Orchestra out now through MGM. Catch Tijuana Cartel withKalidad atOxford Art Factory onThursday September 25, tickets online.Also appearing at the Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle on Friday September 26.

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Tijuana Cartel

Tijuana Cartel

Long-time lovers of live performance Tijuana Cartel are planning big things in 2014, with singles, an EP and a live album all in the pipeline. The multi-genre-crossing electronic/world music group from the Gold Coast is on its way to Sydney ahead of Bluesfest commitments, with a passion for getting up close and personal with the fans.

The live aspect of Tijuana Cartel’s music is something that means a lot to percussionist Daniel Gonzalez and provides him with the drive to carry on in a career that’s spanned a decade already.

“We have such a loyal fan base and that, along with selling out shows, really keeps us excited,” he says. “Because we can still get people to our shows we continue to work hard and explore a lot of different avenues in sound.”

Never belonging to just one musical style, the band prefers to play music with the aim of getting feedback in a live setting and then packaging what comes out as simply ‘Tijuana Cartel music’.

“We’ve definitely got deep electronic roots in our music, but there’s also the world music element,” explains Gonzalez. “Over the last ten years I think we’ve experimented with different sounds and it’s developed into our own sound. At our shows you’re really experiencing something that in this day and age is completely original; it sounds like nothing else and that’s what we pride ourselves on.”

Planning to release a three-track EP soon, as well as a live album from one of their shows, the band uses live sets to come up with new directions to take songs in – an ideal way to gauge what’s working and what isn’t.

“We tried the normal process of writing, recording then releasing material but found that we were changing things a lot in our live shows,” says Gonzalez. “So we started playing our new music live first, and then developing it into a full release from there.”

Inspired by fellow Australian acts like Midnight Juggernauts and World’s End Press, Gonzalez says the breakbeat scene has also influenced Tijuana Cartel and is reflected in their tunes.

“Over the years we haven’t had an intention to specifically create music differently to everything else, but it just kind of happened that way. It’s always been completely in-house, with music to artwork to interviews and even ads coming through one of the band members.”

Fresh single ‘Endlessly’is all set to feature on their upcoming dates, and Gonzalez says the experience of a Tijuana show is the reason he keeps at it. “We’ve got about 20 songs that are single-worthy at the moment after locking ourselves away in the studio for months. We may have a few collaborations in the works for this year too, but we’ll keep that under wraps for now.”

Catch Tijuana Cartel at Oxford Art Factory onFriday March 28.

Also appearing alongside John Mayer, Dave Matthews Band, Devendra Banhart, India.Arieand many more at Byron Bay Bluesfest, Thursday April 17 to Monday April 21

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