In 2000 Hector Mijangos founded a clothing range for DJs that led to his branded parties and then the foundation of Noiselab Records. Signing local and international bands, his label has changed Mexico’s music scene.
“I don’t know if my day starts in the morning or at night. I wake up around eight, turn on my computer, watch TV and work for an hour, then take a shower and come to work. I live five blocks from my office, in Condesa. Sometimes I don’t leave the neighbourhood in a week – it’s this fashionable district in Mexico City, kind of like SoHo, so there’s plenty to do. Normally I drive to work because I’ll have my laptop with me. I used to walk a lot, but I don’t like walking with my computer – there’s a lot of crime in Mexico City. I feel safer in my car, since my whole life’s in my laptop.
We’re supposed to start at the office at 10. We have meetings, check emails, then go see a band or plan a recording session, or book a show or promotion – basically, it’s office work but it’s music too. I have a lot of business lunches and, of course, we always take a long time to enjoy our food. I eat with artists, producers or brand clients – sponsors, allies – usually in Condesa. And it’s always Japanese food.
I use the phone a lot. I’m always on the computer, always online, and I’m addicted to MySpace. My tools are iTunes, MySpace, email and a telephone. I have something to do every night: I leave the office at nine or 10, then go to dinner, go to a party or do a show. Come back, watch TV, go to bed. Do it again.
My fashion label was the beginning of all this. I studied computer science before I became a fashion designer. In 2000, I designed a clothing line for people who could be on the computer all day, but also go out all night and probably spend the night somewhere other than in their own bed.
I was friends with a lot of DJs, so I gave my clothes to them to promote the label. I designed a special line for DJs and called it Noiselab. Soon afterwards, I realised there weren’t enough places for them to work in Mexico City, so I started calling clubs and parties and suddenly I was management. I was getting jobs for the DJs, collecting money, trying to advertise them – everything. So without thinking of setting up a management agency, I was doing it. Then I started launching parties. I became the management and now I’m promoting.
I worked with about 10 DJs, so we did a compilation album and that was the start of Noiselab Records, in 2001 – Compilation 001. The first song on the album was by Zoé. They were unsigned then and now they’re Noiselab’s superstar Mexican band. I was into electronic music rather than rock, so we released a remix of one of their songs. We did 001, then 002 and 003, and at that point Noiselab became a record label, a management company and promoters – I hired employees and everything. At the time, it was perfect. It was the beginning of a scene in Mexico City.
After seven compilations, I said ‘let’s release EPs’. We released Los Fancy Free, which sounded like a tape recorder with singing on some of the tracks. We also had an artist called Soundspace, whose tracks were made on a computer, like laptop music. We had Malakatonche, a band playing house music live [they are now called The Cosmetics], and Sonido Lasser Drakar, one of the several projects Emilio Acevedo has. Now he’s half of Maria Daniela y su Sonido Lasser. Around 2004, I thought it was time to release foreign music. Our first pitch was Interpol from New York – I had always liked them and thought they’d do well here. We started talking to the Matador guys and it took us about four months to close the deal and release Interpol’s debut album, Antics. When we did, everything began to change.
Before Noiselab, it was difficult to get foreign music in Mexico because it was expensive. There were only imports—they cost about $25 [a regular CD in Mexico costs around $13, equivalent to €9.50]. One of Noiselab’s missions is that music and shows have to be affordable, so we always try to go as cheap as we can. We sell at about half the price of imports.
We released Interpol and, after a while, The Libertines, The Kills, Bloc Party and Arcade Fire – it was great. We were crazy busy looking for new bands, too. It was a good year! By the beginning of 2005, we had all these new releases. We also started work on Zoé’s EP The Room, which became the most successful EP in Mexico. It sold about 100,000 copies.
Things have changed here 180 degrees. We have a lot of good bands, more indie labels, a lot of venues and a scene – from folk to rock to electro. I have two main goals for Noiselab. One is to develop more of the Mexican artists and try to sell them outside the country. The second is to become stronger online. We’re developing a digital music store for Latin America, beon.com, where we’ll sell music and concert videos.
I don’t see pirates as a threat. With MySpace, you feel closer to the bands. You want to go to the show and buy the merchandise. If you release the album at a good price, fans will spend money on their heroes. You help them to become who they are. No matter how late you go to bed.”
01 Zoé, Memo Rex Commander y el Corazón Atómico de la Vía Láctea
02 Los Dynamite, Greatest Hits
03 Ims, Piñata
04 Chikita Violenta, The Stars and Sun Sessions
05 Sub Division, Blue Boy
06 Replica, Sorry EP
07 !!!, Myth Takes
08 The Whitest Boy Alive, Dreams
09 Interpol, Our Love to Admire
10 Goose, Bring It On