From ambient to hard techno, and everything in between, Mexico currently has one of the healthiest electronic music scenes in the world. Whether they adhere to the strict rules of subgenres or bend them to their will by adding folk and regional sounds into the mix, Mexico has been providing amazing electronic music to the world.
And as it turns out, the roots of this utopia are just as fascinating. Electronic music in Mexico started in the 1960s with composers like Mario Lavista, Francisco Nuñez, Héctor Quintanar, and Julio Estrada. By 1970, Quintanar helped open the first electronic music laboratory in Mexico City at the National Conservatory. Just a few years later, pioneering progressive rock bands emerging post the historic Festival Rock y Ruedas de Avándaro, like Vía Lactea, Como México No Hay Dos, Chac Mool, and Decibel, incorporated early commercial synthesizers into their music as influenced by German bands like Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze, and Popol Vuh. This led up to a booming period in the next decade, with many of the people involved in the aforementioned projects being responsible for innovation in the genre.
Indeed, a golden era of electronic music started in the ‘80s, not only giving us amazing music but helping establish the scene that eventually led to the rock mexicano explosion of the ‘90s and beyond. Although its impact is incalculable, the music itself faded into obscurity as the albums went out of print. In 2005, AT-AT Records put out an archival compilation titled Backup: Expediente Tecno Pop featuring some highlights of the era in an effort to preserve them. Earlier in 2021, San Francisco label Dark Entries reissued the material with a different tracklist but maintaining the same spirit as the original compilation, this time under the name Back Up: Mexican Tecno Pop 1980-1989.
As with most compilations, Back Up is an excellent introduction to a time and genre—yet, there’s more to the story. In order to celebrate the release of the album, and to revisit the history of an important era for electronic music in Mexico, we gathered six artists worth exploring—three of which were featured in the current edition of Back Up.