Mexican Institute of Sound
Camilo Lara never set out with the intention of taking his personal musical career very seriously. At first, he was simply creating holiday mixes for friends. But then his friends convinced him that he should take his songs off his computer and into the studio. Now five years later, Lara is building upon the momentum of MEXICAN INSTITUTE OF SOUND’s third release, Soy Sauce (2009).
Soy Sauce traverses Lara’s wild musical imagination with a witty sense of humor…whether it’s converting the traditional sounds of cumbia to a full-on electronic dance track, paying tribute to hip-hop luminaries De La Soul and N.W.A. with Mexican sonidos, or singing a love song as if Serge Gainsbourg had spent time in the Mayan jungle.
While early M.I.S. albums combined a variety of vintage samples into instrumental tracks, Soy Sauce features almost entirely original songs recorded with a live band and vocals. Songs like “Yo Digo Baila” are the most to-the-point M.I.S. dance tracks to date. “What I like is that one has the sounds of cumbia but in a very radical style,” Lara explains.
Lara also invited some of his influential musician friends to perform on the album. “When I was working on Soy Sauce, I was obsessed with Café Tacuba’s classic album Re,” he says. “I wanted to record an album like that – going from polka to punk in one second. That’s why I had found it so fascinating. I wanted my album to really cover the entire scope of my musical tastes.” So Lara ended up recruiting close friend and Tacuba’s lead guitarist Joselo Rangel to play on the tracks “Hiedra Venenosa” and “Alocatel.” From there, Ad Rock, of the hip-hop icon Beastie Boys, decided he wanted to remix the track “Alocatel.”
While Lara has been involved with top film projects such as arranging the score for Y tu mamá también and the soundtrack for Rudo y Cursi, he has also had M.I.S. songs featured in a variety of major films, TV shows, ad campaigns, and video games, from HBO’s Big Love to Showtime’s Californication and Heineken to FIFA Soccer 2010. “I guess I always create music for imaginary situations, so this often reflects in where the songs end up,” he explains.
As the M.I.S. recording and songwriting process has evolved, so has the live show. It has developed from simply “pushing buttons” to incorporating a live drummer, DJ, and bassist. M.I.S. has brought the band to rock stages from Central Park Summer Stage to Japan and onto performances with leading radio programs such as KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic.
Last spring, M.I.S. played the prestigious Coachella Arts & Music Festival in Indio, California. The Los Angeles Times praised the band’s set as one of Coachella’s highlights, saying, “M.I.S. obliterated the rhythmic sameness that sinks a lot of U.S. hip-hop acts. Their songs fuse thunderous beats enlivened by real-time Latin percussive accents, lyrics en español, polka, norteño, mariachi, punk, disco, and rock flavors.” In the past, Lara had attended Coachella as a fan; performing for the first time had special meaning. “For me, it is part of the Mount Olympus of rock,” he says. “This includes feats like getting covered in Rolling Stone, Spin, and NME and playing Reading and Glastonbury. Yet another dream to cross off!”