It's surely not their city's architectural beauty that keeps a firm grip on Tijuana-based folk-tronic duo Bostich + Fussible. But the city's well-guarded Bohemian underpinnings -- independent art galleries, all-hours clubs, and bars where you can order the beer-and-a-joint special for a buck -- have supplied Ramón Amezcua (Bostich) and Pepe Mogt (Fussible) with plenty of inspiration.
Now touring on their second album, Bulevar 2000, Amezcua and Mogt have performed their signature techno -- featuring live Norteño-style tuba, accordion and trumpet instrumentals -- to crowds on nearly every continent. This Friday they'll swing through L.A. to perform at the Music Box with Nacional Records labelmates Ana Tijoux and Los Amigos Invisibles.
Before taking the stage at Seattle's Bumbershoot music and art festival last Saturday, Mogt chatted us up from his hotel, sounding suspiciously like he'd just rolled out of bed. With a scratchy voice, Mogt reflrected dreamily on Bostich + Fussible's conceptual album trilogy, the third and final chapter of which they've been writing on the road.
"All three albums are about this car," imparts Mogt. You can see the rusty vintage boat of an automobile on the cover of the duo's 2008 debut Tijuana Sound Machine, with a shadowy silhouette at the wheel. In the album, the car -- a metaphorical embodiment of Mogt and Amezcua -- goes for a lyrical "joyride" back and forth across the border.
"Most of the songs on that album are related to one spot, one corner, or some situation that happened in TJ [Tijuana] or San Diego," Mogt says.
Bulevar 2000 finds the metaphorical "car" getting out of town by way, Mogt says, of Tijuana's brand new, highly dangerous freeway Bulevar 2000. Recorded in vehicles and hotel rooms while on tour, with collaborations from international artists including Kylee Swenson of SF's Loquat and Bryce Kushnier of Toronto's Vitamins For You, each song presents an outside perception of Tijuana, as Mogt and Amezcua saw their city through other artists' eyes.
"Tijuana is really famous around the world," Mogt says. "Everywhere you go, if you mention Tijuana everybody knows it."
Despite its reputation for drug trafficking and smuggling, however, Mogt says he's met plenty of people who are mysteriously attracted to the city. "I can mention cities in Mexico, but you say 'Tijuana' and everybody wants to go there to see what it's really like."
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For their third, yet-unnamed, album, that trusty "car" will come home once again to Tijuana, just like Amezcua and Mogt have nearly every week over the past year, on return flights from far-flung locales like Australia, New Zealand, China, Germany and Sweden.
Back home, Amezcua operates a dental practice on Mondays and Tuesdays, while Mogt edits and uploads video of the band's live shows. After long days staring at the computer, Mogt says he'll get out of the house and see who's playing in the clubs.
Tijuana's all-night electronic scene and the folk stylings of city's street musicians -- which Amezcua and Mogt sometimes hear on their early morning walks home -- are the clear influences on Tijuana Sound Machine. But as they've traveled, Bostich + Fussible's work has gathered traces of something foreign, largely by visiting clubs in other countries.
"You get influenced by that," Mogt says. "Being in a club in Germany, for example, listening to new releases, you never know what music stayed with you and became an influence on your work."