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"You must find your own way of creativity" - Interview with Hocico

Updated: May 22, 2023



by Stina Isabel Gavrilin


Hocico returns! This Sunday, on April 21st, the legendary Mexican electro-industrial outfit consisting of Erk Aicrag and Racso Agroyam bring their HyperViolent European Tour to Tallinn's Sveta bar. Last week, we called them up mid-tour to investigate the band's collective heart and mind after thirty years of wreaking havoc in underground electronic music.


How are you, how’s the tour been so far?


Erk: It’s been only three dates and I’m exhausted. No, I’m just joking. It’s been a good kickstart. The first two shows were very intense, especially the one in Berlin. London is always amazing as well. In Vienna, we had lots of fun and can’t wait to play the following shows. And we are looking forward to the show in Tallinn. We haven’t been in Tallinn for quite a few years.


Racso: Five years.


This year, you’re celebrating your 30th anniversary as a band. Your sound has gone through quite a progression through the years. What are some of the most unusual places you’ve drawn influence from?


Erk: Musically speaking, Racso is into very avant-garde electronic music. I actually like all kinds of music, I don’t really care as long as it’s good music. But Racso is telling me all the time, there’s G-house and downtempo and-


Racso: Drum’n’bass.


Erk: Of course, I love it. But sometimes he comes with a lot of genres that I didn’t know before, he’s trying to get me into those. And sometimes I just listen to the sound, add my vocals and experiment with it, and at the end the song is something fresh and new. We even experimented with black metal in the last record.


The box set of your latest album, HyperViolent, included some of your favourite recipes, as well as a bag of chili peppers inside. Is that the food item that represents Hocico best?


Erk: Mexican food is very popular around the world. It’s actually protected by Unesco, an intangible heritage. We are very proud of our cuisine and we want to share that bit from our culture too. Not only music and special items, but the food is always a good way to share our culture.


From the very start, your music has always focused on the negative and violent aspects of life in a very confrontational way. Most bands tend to lose that aggressive edge and mellow out in time, do you ever get tired of being pissed off?


Racso: Not at all. The point is, we said that hate never dies. It’s an attitude, Hocico is a part of this negativity that we have as humans. So we’re always trying to share this dark side of the mind. This is the point why Hocico exists. People can be happy listening to it but at the end, it’s like therapy to put these aggressive elements into every song. It’s something that liberates us from these feelings. Of course we are not extreme all the time (laughs), living with these bad black feelings in a cave. This is just the concept of Hocico. I’m a happy person but I like this style and the dark melodies, and to look into something that is not common. Maybe the real life is totally happy, but we’re trying to always include these inclusive dark feelings and negative emotions that we have as humans.


Erk: I think Hocico is just more suited to explore the dark aspects of life. I personally feel much better exploring that side of life in an artistic form. My regular life is just happy and I’m trying all the time to be happy about many things but if it’s about art, I want it as dark as possible.


Erk, last year you fulfilled your longtime dream of writing and publishing a book (Until My Throat Bleeds), stating that you want the reader to distance themselves from social networks to spend time alone with your words as art, not just content. With digital replacing the analogue, do you think art is in danger of turning into mere entertainment?


Erk: That’s not an easy question to answer because we are entertaining, we’ve always been entertainers. Since the beginning of art, we serve, we give to the people. But at the same time, there is a message. And it’s an intangible message. It doesn’t matter if it’s in a physical way or digital, the message is always there. But I think once we create a relationship to the object, it’s easier to create a stronger one if you can touch it. We are real humans interacting right now, you are kilometers away from us, that’s great. It’s a beautiful thing that technology allows us to do but I’m sure when we’re in a room, seeing our gestures and everything, we could explore the topics even further. It’s the same way with art. If you come to a concert, you will get much more from music than if you just listen to it on your phone and on your own. It’s a relationship too but it’s not as strong. That’s the way I see it.


How do you feel about a lot of other dark electro bands in recent years using ‘the Hocico sound’ as a template, copying it in a sense?


Racso: We were suffering ten years ago over this wall of clones. We saw many people deciding to copy our sound. In some way, it’s nice that we could influence people but when you enter the music business, you must find your own way of creativity. For many people it’s easy to catch the idea and to copy. Then it’s like a copy of a copy. It was a little bit difficult to understand all the bands when they decided to use the same sound. Not only Hocico, other bands too. Of course, we always expose special creativity and change and evolve. But then part of the scene decided to just copy. And then there was a moment when all of dark electro started to sound similar. No differences between the bands. It’s difficult, you can explain and they don’t understand that they must find their own creativity and not copy, but a part of dark electro is kind of to clone.


Erk: To me, it’s been flattering more than bothering. I think it’s good that Hocico has been a very big influence in underground electronic music. And of course, when people start cloning it’s definitely not interesting but at the end, the public will decide what’s good or not. And if Hocico is a reference for many people, I think it’s flattering.


Besides your home country Mexico, do you find your music is understood better in certain parts of the world?


Erk: From the parts of the world we have visited, I think it’s mostly capital cities. We’ve visited some small towns too. And we’ve never been to Africa for example, so we don’t know what the people in Africa think about our music. But certainly, there’s a big city vibe, that’s my impression. It goes along with the stress of people living in big cities among a lot of people and struggling with daily life. Of course Mexico, Moscow, Berlin...


Racso: New York.


Erk: People going crazy in Los Angeles... There are cities you go to and the energy is just electric.


You were the first band from the dark electro scene to play here in Estonia and you’ve done six shows here in total. Can you recall any special highlights from these previous visits?


Erk: It’s always been cool. I remember just jumping into the crowd, being totally happy, people having fun. I remember the very first time we visited Estonia, someone mentioned that we are the first Mexican band ever to play a show in this country. That makes me feel proud, of course. I remember asking the promoter, are you sure because there is this guy Santana, the guitar player, he’s Mexican as well. He’s been around the world. And I think the promoter said no, he hasn’t been to Estonia, so I guess we can take pride on that. It’s always been fun.


Similarly to five years ago, you’re also playing in the very intimate Sveta bar this time around. Do you generally prefer smaller or bigger venues?


Erk: Smaller, to me.


Racso: Well, it depends, it’s a different atmosphere when you play to a lot of people. Sometimes in a small club, it’s kind of warm to feel energy directly from the fans because on a big stage you don’t have any contact. It’s always important to play in the small clubs, there is some more craziness in the show but sometimes it’s also good to play in the big stages and to a lot of people.


Well, thank you for these insights! See you on the 21st!


Erk: Yeah, looking forward to playing Tallinn. Hope to see you there!


Racso: Yes, we are very happy to return to Estonia. We couldn’t expect it after the pandemic, we thought that maybe we could play in the main cities. But then to play in Estonia, Finland, is always a big pleasure for us – to spread our energy to every country.



[EST]


Kuidas käsi käib, kuidas tuur seni on läinud?


Erk: Ainult kolm esinemist on möödas ja ma olen kurnatud. Ei, teen ainult nalja. On olnud hea stardipauk. Esimesed kaks kontserti olid väga intensiivsed, eriti Berliinis. London on ka alati imeline. Viinis oli meil väga lõbus ja ei jõua järgmisi kontserte ära oodata. Pikisilmi ootame ka Tallinna esinemist. Me pole seal päris mitu aastat käinud.


Racso: Viis aastat.


Sel aastal tähistate 30. aastapäeva bändina. Teie helikeel on aastate jooksul päris palju arenguid läbi teinud. Mis on mõned ebatavalisemad asjad, millest olete mõjutatud olnud?


Erk: Muusikaliselt rääkides, Racsole meeldib väga avangardne elektrooniline muusika. Mulle õigupoolest meeldib igasugune muusika, ma tegelikult ei hooli, seni kuni see on hea. Aga Racso räägib mulle kogu aeg, et on G-house ja downtempo ja-


Racso: Trumm ja bass.


Erk: Muidugi, armastan seda. Aga vahetevahel mainib ta paljusid žanre, mida ma varem pole teadnud ja üritab mind nendega tuttavaks teha. Ja mõnikord lihtsalt kuulan heli, lisan oma vokaali ja eksperimenteerin sellega ning lõpuks on lugu midagi värsket ja uut. Viimasel plaadil katsetasime isegi black metaliga.


Teie viimase albumi ,,HyperViolent” boksis olid mõned teie lemmikretseptid ning kotike tšillipipraga. Kas see on toiduaine, mis esindab Hocicot kõige paremini?


Erk: Mehhiko toit on üle maailma väga populaarne. Tegelikult on see Unesco kaitse all, puutumatu pärand. Oleme oma köögi üle väga uhked ja tahame ka seda osa oma kultuurist jagada. Mitte ainult muusika ja erilised esemed, vaid ka toit on väga hea viis meie kultuuri jagamiseks.


Algusest peale on teie muusika alati keskendunud elu negatiivsetele ja vägivaldsetele aspektidele väga agressiivsel viisil. Enamik bände kaotavad ajaga selle karmi poole ja muutuvad pehmeks, kas te vahel väsite vihased olemast?


Racso: Üldse mitte. Point on see, et viha ei sure kunagi. See on hoiak, Hocico on osa negatiivsusest, mis meil inimestena on. Nii et üritame alati jagada seda tumedat osa meelest. Selleks Hocico eksisteeribki. Inimesed võivad olla õnnelikud meid kuulates, aga nende agressiivsete elementide panemine iga loo sisse on nagu teraapia. See on miski, mis vabastab meid nendest tunnetest. Loomulikult me pole kogu aeg ekstreemsed (naerab), nende halbade mustade tunnetega koopas elades. See on lihtsalt Hocico kontseptsioon. Ma olen õnnelik inimene, aga mulle meeldib see stiil, tumedad meloodiad, ja uurida midagi ebaharilikku. Võib-olla on päriselu totaalselt õnnelik, aga üritame alati kaasata neid tumedaid tundeid ja negatiivseid emotsioone, mis valdavad meid inimestena.


Erk: Ma arvan, et Hocico on lihtsalt sobilikum käsitlema elu tumedamaid aspekte. Isiklikult tunnen end palju paremini kujutades kunstiliselt seda poolt elust. Mu igapäevane elu on õnnelik ja üritan kogu aeg paljudest asjadest rõõmu tunda, aga mis kunsti puutub, tahan, et see oleks nii tume kui võimalik.


Erk, eelmine aasta viisid täide oma pikaaegse unistuse kirjutada ja anda välja raamat (,,Until My Throat Bleeds”) öeldes, et tahad distantseerida lugeja sotsiaalsetest võrgustikest, võimaldades tal veeta aega su sõnadega kui kunsti, mitte kui sisuga. Nüüd, kui digitaalne on asendamas analoogi, kas arvad, et kunstil on oht muutuda pelgalt meelelahutuseks?


Erk: See pole lihtne küsimus, millele vastata, sest meiegi lahutame meelt, oleme alati meelelahutajad olnud. Kunsti algusaegadest saati oleme teeninud, andnud rahvale. Kuid samal ajal on selles ka sõnum. Ja see on puudutamatu sõnum. Pole vahet, kas see on füüsilisel või digitaalsel viisil, sõnum on alati olemas. Aga arvan, et objektiga on lihtsam luua tugevamat suhet, kui saad seda puudutada. Me suhtleme praegu kui päris inimesed, sa oled meist kilomeetreid eemal, see on suurepärane. See on ilus asi, mida tehnoloogia lubab meil teha, aga olen kindel, et kui oleme ühes ruumis ja näeme üksteise žeste, jõuaksime nende teemadega veelgi kaugemale. Samamoodi on kunstiga. Kui tuled kontserdile, saad muusikast palju rohkem kui kuulates seda üksi oma telefonist. Ka see on suhe, aga pole nii tugev. Mina näen seda nii.


Mida arvate sellest, et paljud teised viimaste aastate tume-elektro bändid kasutavad ‘Hocico helikeelt’ šabloonina ning mõnes mõttes kopeerivad seda?


Racso: Kümme aastat tagasi kannatasime selle kloonide tulva pärast. Nägime, kuidas paljud inimesed otsustasid meie helikeelt kopeerida. Mingis mõttes on tore, et oleme saanud inimesi mõjutada, aga kui sisened muusikatööstusesse, pead leidma iseenda loomingulise suuna. Paljude jaoks on lihtne idee kinni püüda ja seda jäljendada. Siis on see nagu koopia koopiast. Veidi keeruline oli kõigist bändidest aru saada, kui nad otsustasid kasutada sama helikeelt. Mitte ainult Hocico oma, teiste bändide ka. Loomulikult meie alati muutume ja areneme loominguliselt. Aga siis otsustas osa skeenest lihtsalt matkida. Ja oli moment, kui kogu tume-elektro kõlas ühte moodi. Mitte ühtegi erinevust bändide vahel. See on raske, sa võid seletada ja nad ei saa aru, et peavad leidma oma loomingulisuse ja mitte kopeerima, aga kloonimine on justkui osake tume-elektrost.


Erk: Minu jaoks on see olnud meelitav rohkem kui häiriv. Ma arvan, et see on hea, et Hocico on olnud põrandaaluses elektroonilises muusikas väga suur mõjutaja. Muidugi, kui inimesed hakkavad kloonima, pole see kindlasti huvitav, aga lõpuks otsustab publik, mis on hea ja mis ei ole. Ja kui Hocico on viide paljude inimeste jaoks, arvan ma, et see on meelitav.


Kas peale oma kodumaa Mehhiko tunnete, et te muusikat mõistetakse mõnes maailma paigas paremini?


Erk: Nendest paikadest, mida oleme külastanud, arvan, et enamasti pealinnades. Oleme käinud ka mõnedes väikestes linnades. Ja me pole kunagi näiteks Aafrikas käinud, seega ei tea, mida sealsed inimesed meie muusikast arvavad. Aga kindlasti on mingi suurlinna meeleolu, mulle on selline mulje jäänud. See käib kaasas suurlinnades elavate ja igapäevaeluga raskustes olevate inimeste stressiga. Muidugi Mehhiko, Moskva, Berliin...


Racso: New York.


Erk: Inimesed hullumas Los Angeleses... On linnu, kuhu sa lähed ja sealne energia on lihtsalt elektriline.


Olite esimene tume-elektro skeene bänd, kes Eestisse esinema sattus ning olete mänginud siin kokku kuus korda. Kas suudate meenutada mõnd erilist tipphetke eelmistest külastustest?


Erk: Alati on lahe olnud. Mäletan publikusse hüppamist, üliõnnelik olemist, lõbutsevaid inimesi. Meenub, et kui esimest korda Eestisse tulime, mainis keegi, et oleme kõige esimene Mehhiko bänd üldse, kes selles riigis esinenud. See loomulikult paneb mind uhkust tundma. Küsisin promootorilt, kas ta on päris kindel, sest on üks tüüp Santana, see kitarrist, tema on ka mehhiklane. Ta on mööda maailma reisinud. Arvan, et promootor ütles, et ta pole Eestis käinud, nii et saame siis uhked olla. Alati on lõbus olnud.


Sarnaselt viie aasta tagusele kontserdile, mängite ka seekord väga intiimses Sveta baaris. Kas eelistate üldiselt väiksemaid või suuremaid kontserdikohti?


Erk: Väiksemaid, minu jaoks.


Racso: Sõltub, suurele rahvahulgale mängides on teistsugune atmosfäär. Mõnikord on väikeses klubis südamlik tunda fännidelt energiat otse, sest suurel laval pole sul mingit kontakti. Alati on oluline väikestes klubides mängida, kontserdil on rohkem hullust, aga vahetevahel on hea mängida ka suurtel lavadel ja paljudele inimestele.


Tänud nende sissevaadete eest! Nägemiseni pühapäeval!


Erk: Ootame väga Tallinna kontserti. Loodame teid seal näha!


Racso: Jah, oleme väga õnnelikud, et naaseme Eestisse. Pärast pandeemiat me ei osanud seda oodata, arvasime, et äkki saame mängida põhilistes linnades. Aga mängida Eestis ja Soomes on alati me jaoks suur rõõm – levitada oma energiat kõikidesse riikidesse.




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Guest
May 21, 2023

April 21st?

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Guest
May 19, 2023

When is oscars birthday?

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