Words by: Andrea Susarrey
Diles Que No Me Maten are diligently translating the sound of Mexico City into their new wave sound.
Diles Que No Me Maten translates to “Tell them not to kill me”. An appropriate name given the groups music that appears to be both an existential commentary on life and simultaneously a plea and passion to not only live but truly be alive. Diles is a new entity created from the recycled parts of the 80s new wave, synthesizers, and existentialism.
Diles is made up of band members: Geronimo on guitar, Jonas on Saxophone and Vocals, Gerardo guitar and synths, Raul drums, and Andres on bass. Their sound is hard to put a finger on in terms of strict genre definitions – if there had to be a point of reference it would be somewhere between Can, The Gun Club and something more theatrical that acts as almost a monologue of one’s own life.
They are a band that’s on the brink of spearheading a new musical scene in Mexico City. I had the pleasure of seeing them live and was surprised by the country twang and attitude they gave off during the performance. It felt completely different to the experience of just listening to their records online.
I caught up with Diles Que No Me Maten to talk all things music, Mexico City and more.
How do you guys approach making music?
Jonas: So much of it is improvised. It depends on where we are and what instruments we are playing because we switch a lot – this gives us more perspectives of the different working parts. But almost everything is improvisation, and it really depends on the moment itself.[Even] at our shows, we never have a setlist. I mean there’s always a few songs that we’re most likely going to play but we pretty much interpret them in new ways every time we play live and it’s always different from the original recording of it. From there we trail off and eventually find ourselves at another song. We listen to each other mainly.
The lyrics definitely stand out, tell me a bit about their importance to you.
Jonas: Mostly the lyrics came from songs that were already made. The songs that we really liked I would write for after. I would try a bunch of different things and had a notebook full of scribbles – I would try different combinations to see what fit best. And now everything’s changed, for the new album that’s coming out in September, La Vida de Alguien Más (The life of someone else), we changed the order of the instruments we recorded. It gave so much dimension to the sound, the vocals are mixed with the bass and it’s accompanied by the guitar and synths, instead of sitting flat on top of everything.
Gerardo: We used to not even be able to hear Jonas when we first started because we played too loud, also because he was so shy. You could only hear the rhythm in his voice and we went from that. But now the words are clearer and we know how to support [his voice] it more.
Jonas: Yeah well I didn’t sing before this. I was mainly just writing, and then when I started to work at the radio station (Discos Duros) the writing began to be more musically oriented.
Your sound is industrial, it’s apparent that it was born within a massive city, you can almost hear the weight of it. Tell me more about that.
Gerardo: We’re all from Mexico City, so naturally we talk about it and work with the sounds that are unconsciously there or the images that exist within the city that we have from being here our whole life. It’s really natural we’re not consciously trying to reflect it.
Jonas: We used to practice somewhere pretty far and it took us an hour to get there so by the time we got to playing we were full of the city and its sounds so naturally it came out in the music.
Is there similar music coming out in Mexico City at the moment?
Jonas: Yeah, there’s some cool stuff coming out. There’s definitely a gestation of bands that have that similar city feel, yet very different to the music of Mexico City before us. Some of them are Sei Still, Mabe Fratti, Tajak, Americo. But more than the bands sounding similar, they each have their own identity but that city feel is definitely what they have in common.
Geronimo: There is a genealogy of Mexican music that influences us, but it’s not very well known. There was a label called Vale Vergas that made similar music in the 90s and early 2000s. They started with Juan Cirerol, but other bands were on it like Mueran Humanos, Soledad, and Hospital de Mexico. But you can definitely feel that there is a new scene gestating.
Jonas: Hopital de Mexico is a band that I really admire, especially lyrically and they talk so much about the city.
What’s next for you guys?
Jonas: We’re about to go on tour in the North of the country. And definitely keep playing shows here.
What are you listening to at the moment?
Geronimo: Throbbing Gristle and Luis Miguel
Jonas: Gal Go Grey and Don Cherry
Gerardo: John Hassell
Raul: Slow Dive and Compay Segundo