Diplo & Friends Mixes: Phoenix Lights Edition
February 19, 2018
February 19, 2018
Over the past few years, Boombox Cartel has become one of the most identified sounds in today’s electronic scene. Their hits, “B2U,” “Aftershock,” “Supernatural,” and “Jefe” can be found in just about any set, and you will catch sight of their name on just about any large-scale festival lineup.
The duo is made up of two mates who met in Monterrey, Mexico, Americo and Jorge. For this interview, Americo will be answering all of the questions on behalf of Jorge, as Jorge is still working out the kinks on getting his artist visa so the two can play shows together in the United States.
Years back, Boombox Cartel had met through a friend of a friend. Jorge was DJing Top 40 clubs since the age of 14, and Americo was playing in bands and messing with music on his computer. “I had Jorge on Facebook. We met at a barbecue. I organized the BBQ at my house in Monterrey, Mexico, and I invited a bunch of musical friends. DJs, drummers, bass players, let’s talk music. I met Jorge, he was killing to DJ scene in Monterrey, and I was making beats and playing in bands.”
Years later, Jorge and Americo decided to team up while attending music school in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
“When we met right there he was like ‘teach me how to produce.’ I knew nothing about DJing. ‘You teach me how to DJ and I’ll teach you how to produce.’ I was in school doing pretty bad in computer technology, so I tried to convince my dad to let me give music a shot. Hardest time of my life. I was a year into music school and Jorge hit me up to see how it was going, and I told him it was tight, so he jumped on a flight and did music school with me.”
“We were the only Mexicans in Minneapolis in that music school. We were in my apartment writing music, playing instruments, just hanging out, then Jorge and I had made this bootleg. This was December 2012. All of a sudden, we decided to upload it and put it out there.”
So why the name ‘Boombox Cartel?’
“Some random drunk dude was like oh you guys are Mexicans like the cartel. You should totally put that in your name. Then this hippie chick comes along and she’s like ‘oh the good type of cartel. The music kind.’ Oh Boombox Cartel, oh yeah. And the username was available throughout every platform.”
“Jorge is very musical, very theory oriented. His dad is an orchestral conductor. He grew up with the piano in his face. It’s in his blood. I was more of a rhythmic person, playing drums and bass in bands, making weird noises on my computer, and sampling hip hop records. It was the perfect combo. I literally learned on stage at our first Boombox performance. Jorge was like ‘hey press that button.’ It was a good thing, sharing things we have both learned, and it’s a very collaborative project.”
So with your parent’s skeptical of a career in music at first, what do they think of it now?
“It’s crazy because my dad is a traditional business man. You go to school, this that, everything in order. My mom was raised the same, but she’s a little more flexible. My mom was a big influence about being more accepting of stuff. My dad literally thought I was playing quinceaneras until just 6 months ago.”
How have they been able to see Boombox Cartel in action?
“I took them out to LA for our third show in LA. I called up Diplo to show up and my mom was like ‘Oh that’s Diplo,’ and I’m like yeah he’s coming through. My moms like ‘what the hell I’ve seen Diplo on the internet and he’s here for you.’ Yeah this Boombox thing is doing pretty well. Olivia, [who is Olivia] takes all these massive photos and I text them to my dad and he’s like ‘wow sun congrats.’ It took a little for him to catch on but he’s accepting now.”
When did you two realize your music career was starting to take off?
“When you’re just starting off it’s so innocent. You don’t know anything about anything. Someone hits up your email to play and you show up and you don’t know anything. It makes it more fun when you’re just starting up. ‘Omg this blog wrote an article about us wtf mom we made it!’ This is it thank you guys, you think that’s it right, but I don’t know, maybe two months later you get this opening slot at this shitty stage at this festival and you think, ‘holy shit this is it.’ Next stop, LA, Staples Center. You know it’s all these little steps that you’re like ‘wow I made it.’ Little by little, you’re a step closer, but the mentality in your head should be ‘yo i haven’t made it yet, and I still have a long way to go.’ The moment you start thinking ‘oh i made it..’ that’s when you start falling down. I like to think, I don’t know about Jorge, that this is just the beginning.”
Your image on your most recent EP, Cartel, what is it depicting?
“Our artwork for that EP I would say represents our lives and us as kids. Me as a little kid, Jorge as a little kid. Living in Mexico going through all of this violent stuff. All of this beautiful culture, but at the same time horrible violence. Growing up in a Mexican household and being introduced to the American world, internet world. It represents the journey.”
What do you love about your fans? How do they motivate you?
“Our fans are everything. If it wasn’t for them and their tweets my mom wouldn’t have seen them. If it wasn’t for their presence at our shows my dad wouldn’t see. Them playing our music and seeing the tracks go online. Even people who play our music once.”
“I can’t even drop our own shit anymore because people have already played our tracks! It’s all love though. I play other people’s records and it’s just part of the game.”
“I think we can relate to a lot of first generation Americans. You’re kind of thrown in and you’re the first American of your family trying to do some good. We relate to a lot of people, and a lot of first generation Mexican-Americans.”
Obviously Jorge isn’t here, so what has the process been like trying to obtain a visa?
“His visa is taking forever. We have been working on this for a while now. We have 3 immigration lawyers working on this case. We’ve turned in letters from Tiesto saying he is a legitimate producer. You can find a weird way to get here, but if you want to do it right, forget about it.”
So as the process of obtaining a visa continues to be dragged out, it’s obvious the procedure is flawed. Individuals like Jorge that are looking to work and coming from Mexico are being kept out of the U.S. and having a large portion of their careers put on hold.
“That’s why so many people just jump the fence. You have all these loyal, hardworking people that just want to do something good, but they don’t get let in. Were doing this the right way, and hopefully it will get fixed soon. We’re always together when we’re not playing shows in the States. We’re adding a bunch of international shows where Jorge will be, but unfortunately not in the States.”
“Obviously, I prefer touring with Jorge, but I try my best to throw down the best possible show while he is not here. Jorge and I are the full duo, but we have to work with what we’ve got.”
So as the story is told, two boys met in Monterrey and combined their forces to become Boombox Cartel. Since then, they have become one of the most favored duos in the scene. You can find Americo at festivals around the U.S. as he holds down the fort, or catch them together at any of their shows outside of the U.S. Either way, the two work exceptionally well together, and they bring very distinct elements to the table.