Ceni x Nawal (Gieck Interview)

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A few days ago we came across a majestic album, one of those that surprise you at first sight and amaze you even more when you see the great work behind it and the cause for which this project has been created. Ceni x Nawal is an initiative to support the Centre for Integral Neurodevelopment (IAP), which aims to annually bring together different artists from the world electronic scene to support CENI by creating different compilations and carrying out different activities. The purchase of this record material directly helps CENI. All sales, physical and digital, will be entirely donated to the institution.

From Industrial Complexx we support these proposals for everything that involves publishing an album of these dimensions, and even more, for such a noble cause as helping an institution. The architect of this work is the Mexican Gieck, whom we wanted to meet and with whom we have contacted to tell us more about this project.

First of all we would like to get to know you better, could you tell us who you are as an artist, what labels you have worked for and what genres of music you usually work with?

I have been involved with electronic music for over 20 years. Mainly influenced by the sound of Detroit, Post Punk, New Wave, EBM, Synthpop, a lot of Funk and Jazz as well. I started djing thanks to my older brother, who taught me what every button on the mixer and decks were for. When I was in high school, I met a good friend with whom we started a project focused on EBM, electro and techno, we called ourselves InvolutionTrash, which to this day we never knew if the name did justice to our thinking, but it sounded good and we kept it. We produced only one LP that only our friends knew about. I recently found it and shared it with them, we had a good laugh about our way of creating music back then. We lived in a red zone in Coacalco, State of Mexico, full of residential buildings, a lot of cholo and delinquency, we were the ‘weirdos’. All the injustices, deprivation and violence that we lived there led us to create a hard and aggressive sound, but suddenly we made very melodic tracks, as a way of healing, I guess. Later, I moved back to the CDMX, it was almost impossible for my friend and I to continue creating music together, with all our problems and with a computer that his parents had given him, his guitar and an amplifier, I had a Korg EM1 that my mother gave me. Then I started to create my own music, just with that EM1. I got into electro in a passionate way, like I had never been into other music before. From time to time I did different things for some labels that asked me for music, mostly Techno and even House. I remember one day in a cybercafé, I opened my MySpace account, started uploading some tracks of my own and then everything changed. There I met many of the artists that are known worldwide today and we shared music with each other. Of course some big names got into the social media scene and gave me some feedback on my music. I remember a message from a guy called Aliensextoy, he wrote me something like: I heard your music and I think we should talk about getting you on my label ANTiZER0. His name is Dimitri Defillippi, he’s one of my best friends nowadays, although sadly a few weeks ago X Beat, the label’s co-founder, died. At that time I had an art collective called Aztlán, I didn’t achieve much, some parties, some fanzines, paintings and little else. ANTiZER0 was the first label I officially belonged to. I’ve never sent a demo, I don’t know, I think that if someone likes my music, they’ll find it. The labels I have signed an EP or a track with are because they are friends of mine and they have asked me to collaborate, which I really appreciate, it means I have done something right, I think.

Nawal also operates as a record shop and distributor, how does this platform work?

It was a project I had been thinking about for a few years, I had always wanted to have my own record shop with music that I like and that was easily available in Mexico, but for many reasons I had never been able to get it off the ground. Nawal works first as a shop, then as a distributor (with 3 shops that trust us) and finally as a label. We try to offer the pressing service, but lately it’s been too difficult to cover the huge worldwide demand and I’m about to collapse because, I’m the typical onemanshow, and I can’t cope with so much anymore, besides I have my job as a graphic designer, advertising and furniture and interior design workshop, I would never live from the shop, not in Mexico haha. I managed to bring the first batch of records when I launched a new label called BAOX, for the first reference I met Gonzalo Rubio, the only one from MeltingPot in Madrid, the contact was for him to help me distribute the material exclusively in Europe, then chatting with him, I told him about my Nawal project and he helped me a lot, sending me a lot of material from local labels and some international ones, all of incredible quality. Distribution has been very complicated, many of the shops in Mexico don’t specialise in just one genre, they sell salsa, rock, reggae, everything, they are very closed to the possibility of including electro or drum & bass records in their catalogue, I think that would open them up to a wider public, even I consume a lot of salsa, jazz and funk records, but I suppose they already have their distributors and they don’t want to complicate things any further. I have a lot of faith that little by little we will manage to create a united community between shops and we will be able to move a lot of material for all the public that appreciates as much as we do this wonderful culture of electronic music.

How and why was Ceni x Nawal born?

When I decided that Nawal would be a label it was because my son was diagnosed with autistic spectrum, when looking for some kind of help, we met CENI (Centre for Integral Neurodevelopment). A centre that provides help to anyone with any kind of disability, private assistance, because well, you know, the government and their fairy tales. Upon learning more about the history of the institution and knowing that they don’t receive government assistance, it crossed my mind to create something that I am more or less good at in conjunction with friends who are, in addition to being talented, wonderful human beings. I proposed to the director of CENI to create this compilation, with experience in previous similar work with other institutions or causes, I figured we would help, even if it was just a little bit. He accepted the project, I started to think about the list of artists and friends who would like to collaborate, I sent them a message, most of them replied that they were in, and nothing, there it is. Now it’s time to move it and try to sell as much as possible to achieve the objective: to help CENI and all the children, young people and adults who attend their therapies. I don’t know if I will only use Nawal as a label for this project with CENI, which is my idea, but for now, we have a compilation with 42 tracks from the best electro artists worldwide. I really like to give new talents a chance, so you will see some unknown names that I’m sure will give a lot to talk about in the not too distant future.

How did you manage to bring together such a great line-up of artists for this first release? How did you approach this release from the very beginning?

I am a great admirer of the work of every artist I invited. There were many more, but some of them were unable to collaborate due to different commitments. With many of the invited artists I have a great relationship of friendship and brotherhood, some of them are new artists, but they come with everything. I have worked on similar projects before and I think that gave them a lot of confidence to collaborate in this new Nawal project. It was set up as an annual initiative to raise funds regularly for CENI (who need it badly). They all accepted immediately, and I am eternally grateful for their trust and support to achieve this project that is so important to me.

The album contains 42 tracks and is electro oriented. Do you plan to make this a yearly proposal, will it always be the same style of music?

Not exactly, I mean, maybe the next one will be focused on all kinds of electronic music, what is clear is that we will never include reggaeton or pop haha. It is possible that at some point we will include some different kind of music, to give movement to the objective, which is to generate funds for the institution, but I will always try to offer the best music I can. I don’t like the word curatorship, it’s too pretentious, I just listen to music, I like it and I select it, just as I selected the music for this compilation which, with all my heart, I hope you like it and that you can support us. I plan to include some sounds that I like a lot and that have developed in Mexico, such as Son Jarocho (I’m a wardrobe sonero), but we’ll see.

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