“The sound of old Mexican cumbias, boleros and mariachi tunes scrambled with samples, effects and beats, from lounge music to funk to low-budget beat boxes.” - NEW YORK TIMES
“Camilo Lara works the electro-dance scene like the James Murphy [LCD Soundsystem] of Latin America. Think Hot Chip visiting the Buena Vista Social Club; think traditional samples with bells and beats; think a sweaty indie-dance party below the bustling streets of one of the world’s most populous cities.” - CMJ
Mexican Institute of Sound’s (M.I.S.) third album ‘Soy Sauce’ was released by Nacional Records in USA/Canada, El Volcan Music in Spain, MiCo in Mexico and Cooking Vinyl everywhere else this past Spring 2009. The album traverses Lara’s wild musical imagination with a witty sense of humor for good effect... 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 or N.W.A. with Mexican sonidos or singing a love song as if Serge Gainsbourg had spent time in the Mayan jungle.
Camilo Lara, known as the Mexican Institute of Sound on stage, never set out with the intention of taking his personal musical career 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 four years later, Lara is building on the momentum of his breakthrough sophomore album ‘Pinata’ with the release of ‘Soy Sauce.’
While early M.I.S. songs combined a variety of vintage samples into instrumental tracks, ‘Soy Sauce’ features almost entirely original songs recorded with a live band and vocals. “Holger Beier, the mastermind behind German act Le Hammond Inferno, is the producer for the album,” Lara says. “He helped give the songs structure and brought new flavors for my ideas.”
Beier’s contribution is most evident on a song like “Yo Digo Baila”. “This is my most to the point dance track,” Lara explains. “I have to thank Holger for pushing me to being open minded to these sorts of ideas. What I like is that it has the sounds of cumbia but in a very radical style.”
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’,” Lara 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 he 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 hip hop icons the Beastie Boys, decided he wanted to remix the track “Alocatel”.
“I’ve been friends with Mike D of the Beastie Boys for a long time,” Lara explains. “So one night after one of their shows in Mexico City, I had the group over to my place for dinner. Mike introduced me to Ad Rock and I gave him some of my music from the new album that I had been working on. Months down the line, he got back in touch, saying that he wanted to collaborate.”
The result is an explosive club banger that bridges the worlds between Mexico City and New York. It represents a common theme across the M.I.S. catalog; fusing the sounds of contrasting music genres and cultures. On “White Stripes,” M.I.S. makes its own personal tribute to hip hop legends De La Soul and N.W.A. The song features the vocals of Mexican pop star Paty Cantu. “I had wanted to do a hip hop track with a Mexican vibe,” Lara says. “The result? Well, it’s the opposite.”
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. In the past year, M.I.S. has brought the band to rock stages from Central Park Summer Stage in New York City all the way out to Japan. Two weeks after ‘Soy Sauce’ will be released, the group ix performing at the prestigious Coachella Music Festival in California.
In the past, Lara has attended Coachella as a fan but performing for the first time has special meaning. “For me, it is part of the Mount Olympus of rock,” he explains. “This includes feats like getting covered in Rolling Stone, Spin, and NME and playing Coachella, Reading and Glastonbury. Yet another dream to cross off!”