MtyMx, the three-day festival at the foothills of the Sierra Madre mountains in Monterrey, Mexico, is not just a festival of music. It’s a call to action coming from a Brooklyn party promoter with big goals.
“The only time we hear about Mexico is when there’s drug dealing or swine flu,” Todd Patrick said one recent sunny afternoon at Dead Herring, a party space/residential loft located by the Williamsburg Bridge on-ramp.
Todd P wants to fight against the stigmas surrounding Mexico, while bringing contemporary, indie music to the burgeoning middle class there.
One-party rule ended in Mexico in 2000 when Vicente Fox was elected president, ending a 71-year rule by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). This was credited with creating a path for people to rise from poverty. Before, there were rich and poor, and not much in between. The growing middle class is searching for alternative, Todd P says. And they are making music all their own.
“People are oblivious, Mexico is our neighbor and just as much an equal as Canada,” he said. “We should respect their cultural output.”
Todd P wants North Americans to see that there is nothing to fear in Mexico, and for bands to think of it as a place worth touring.
“Americans are convinced it’s a war zone,” he said. “They won’t give it a chance.”
MtyMx is being thrown with Yo Garage, a DIY music promoter based in Monterrey. While he is working hard to bring Americans over the border in buses from Austin, where SXSW will be going on, he expects most of those in attendance will be Mexican citizens. He points to Twitter to show the hype.
About 90 percent of the tweets with MtyMx hash tags are in Spanish, he said. “You can see people are psyched.”
Negative assumptions of Mexico are proving hard to beat, however. Just yesterday the state police in Texas issued a statement warning “spring breakers,” a term generally used to refer to college students taking their spring break on Mexican and Caribbean beaches, to be wary of the border regions of Mexico. The statement was repeated and reported in many major news sources, including CNN. Americans on Twitter responded by warning against traveling to MtyMx. There was just one problem.
“The festival’s in the state of Nuevo Leon, & you drive thru Tamaulipas to get there. Neither one’s mentioned in that story,” Todd P wrote on his Twitter last night.
In fact, Monterrey is the safest and most “American” city in Mexico, Todd P said. It is where big American corporations set up shop in Mexico and is referred to as Mexico’s “silicon valley.”
Of course, Todd P being Todd P, the festival is DIY and totally non corporate. While Mexican alternative culture is being bombarded with branding campaigns and outrageous sponsorships, Todd P aims to show, like he has in Brooklyn, that you can do all ages, indie shows in Mexico without the corporate backbone.
“The lifestyle marketing that’s going on is gross,” he said, mentioning that the Vice Magazine brand, American Apparel and Camel tobacco were some of the biggest brands to inflitrate the indie music scene in Mexico.
In Mexico, the branding is “right out of the gates,” he said. Unlike in the U.S., Mexico hasn’t had decades of punk and hardcore music scenes with their accompanying subcultures, which at their core rebelled against corporate power and the political status quo. So this undeveloped scene is being hit with Vice photo booths without even being aware that there is an alternative.
This is the first year of the festival, and Todd P has some lofty ambitions. But so do all who try to change the way things are.
MtyMx takes place March 20, 21 and 22 at Autocinema Las Torres.