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Fernando Corona has released with Martes the most exiting and evocative record of the year so far. Mixing modern classical with micro-beats, his music is like nothing else around. We thought it was all very clever, but is it? In this exclusive interview with themilkfactory, you get the chance to find out…

Can you tell us about who you are and what is your background?
Edmundo Fernando Corona Murillo, born in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico on july 26th 1970. I lived most of my life in Ensenada which is a small port about 100 miles south of Tijuana down the Baja peninsula, I also lived a couple of years in San Diego and attended primary school there, that’s how I learnt English. I studied to become Technician in Analysis and Systems Programming in Ensenada but never went to work as a DJ with my own mobile DJ system back in the 80’s and later, I got a slot at a club in Ensenada which sucked and still does. Before that I worked as a warehouse manager for my uncle Eduardo. And from the early 90’s up until a couple of years ago, I worked for a nursing agency in San Diego with mostly elderly patients with terminal illnesses. I now dedicate myself only to making music.

Having grown up in Ensenada, was the access to music easy then?
Not to music other than Mexican and American mainstream… The radio sucked and there were hardly any record shops. The ones that existed didn’t have a good selection. It still is a small town so there’s hardly any specialized record shops. We had to go to San Diego to buy our records and music magazines, that was the only way to keep up with what was happening outside of the mainstream.

You’ve grown up listening to your father’s Beatles and classical records. Was that what gave you the envy to record your own music?
It wasn’t until my early teens that I started to gain interest in making music. The fact that I listened to a lot of my father’s records, with him teaching my sister and I to really listen and pay attention to the details in the music, whatever the genre, helped me to better understand it and to know when something was good, weather I liked it or not..

What are you main influences? What made you concentrate on electronic music?
My early influences were Jean Michael Jarre, Jon Santo, Kraftwerk, etc. I later developed a taste for the mid 80’s industrial scene and synth pop. In the classical music section, my father was a big Bach fan, so we had a good selection of his music and listened to a lot of it, so that was also an influence.

You have been a very active member of Tijuana’s Nortec collective of artists with your Terrestre project for some time. What is Nortec? What disciplines does it involve?
Nortec stands for Norteño-Techno, which is an aesthetic concept invented here in Tijuana by us, a group of musicians and graphic artists, were the main ingredients are northern Mexican popular and border culture (also called cultura norteña) and technology, in our case as musicians we take elements from norteña and tambora bands. We record loops and samples from real bands that play these types of music in seafood restaurants, bars, streets and even studios were they record their demos, once we have these recording we go home to our computers and mess around with the samples, crating new compositions based on these loops.

How did you get involved?
I got an email from these guys from Tijuana (Fusible, Bostich and Panoptica) inviting electronic musicians to work with some norteña and tambora tracks that they had downloaded from a studio in Tijuana, I became very interested because I was doing something similar things at that time (sampling from tambora, danzon and salsa vinyls), and I also thought it was cool to work as a collective. That way we could accomplished way more than if we had worked alone, so I got in touch with them and we started sharing our views and later our compositions. It was funny because for quite some time our main influences were ourselves, meaning that when one of us finished a track the other members of the collective got influenced by it.

The Mexican electronic scene is just starting to get recognition abroad. How big is electronic in Mexico?
I would say it is still pretty small. There are people who are working on interesting things, but in general the Mexican electronic scene still needs to mature in many ways, from the creative and technical aspects of composing to creating a solid infrastructure. I can count on one hand the few good electronic music publications and radio shows that are worth paying attention to.

Do you think Nortec was pivotal for Mexican artists to get noticed abroad?
It helped a lot, I think without Nortec it would have taken us longer to get where we are right now, (if we are anywhere at all, lol).

As Terrestre, your music is very much based on or uses elements of traditional Mexican music. What is the inspiration for this project?
Just working with the sounds that I hear on an average day in Tijuana gets me going. We like to say that Nortec is the soundtrack of Tijuana. What we wanted to do with Nortec is to use our environment and the city we live in as inspiration.

How did the idea of Martes emerge? Were you working on Murcof in parallel with Terrestre, or did this project start from a need to explore other territories?
It started, like you say, from the need to explore other territories, I’m always working on several projects at a time so that came naturally. I was messing around with some Morton Feldman and Arvo Pärt tracks I had ripped from CDs on some plugins, slicing and dicing them, I came across some interesting results that later became my first Murcof track, MF Relay. The other tracks followed shortly after, and then, before I knew it, had a bunch of tracks done. The next step was to get them released.

Martes was originally released on Static Discos, a small record label in Tijuana. How did Leaf come to distribute it in Europe?
I met Tony Morley at a Leaf party he was having at a club in Barcelona round the time of Sonar 2001 (I was there to perform with other Nortec Collective members there). A friend of mine insisted that I gave him my demo so I did, we went to the club and met up with Tony and I gave him the demo and signed a contract and released Martes.

You achieve with this record a perfect balance complex stuctures and accessible melodies. I assume this must be difficult…
It wasn’t difficult for me to be happy with the results, the tracks almost composed themselves and I hardly revisited them for further tweaking, it was great fun to do the album.

A lot of electronic musicians look towards jazz for inspiration. Your music establishes a rare link with classical composers such as Arvo Pärt or Henryk Goreki. Do you feel it gives a different dimension to your compositions?
I’m a big fan of these and other composers. Classical music is what I listen to the most so it’s natural for me to look into it for inspiration, especially with Murcof.

These composers are obviously a huge influence. How did you come to listen to their music?
It was a natural evolution for me, having listened to pre-1900’s classical music for most of my childhood and adolescence, I grew tired of it so I started to look into 20th century music, from Stravinsky and the Schoenberg school to Wolfgang Rhim and Giya Kancheli.

These musicians used their art to rebel against the communist regimes of their countries by composing religious music, then forbidden. Would you qualify your music, as Murcof, as equally as spiritual, although for different – non political - reasons?
I find it hard to get the emotional and spiritual depth on other styles of music, that’s why I like it so much. If I can share that with someone else through my music, that’s more than enough. There is no political motivations behind my music, it’s just music and what I can do with it. I’m also not very religious, I was raised a Catholic but I don’t follow it’s conventions.

There are loads of string sequences on Martes. Are they actually played for this record or were they sampled? Is all the string work on Martes sampled?
Most of them are sampled, and most of the melodies, sequences and harmonies are made out of small sampled fragments which I later cut, paste and stretch to form new melodies and textures.

Would you consider working with an orchestra for a future project?
Yes, I’m actually working on that right now, I’m also having friends of mine who play classical instruments come to my studio for some sampling sessions. I’m just finishing a new track based on some violin samples I did last week with a violinist friend of mine at them moment. I’m also talking to these and other musicians to try and incorporate live instrumentation for my live performances, still not sure how it will end up.

Why is the album called Martes (Tuesday)?
Because I started my first Murcof track on a Tuesday. Lol.

Eight of the nine tracks on Martes have a title that starts with a M. Is this a coincidence?
When I named my first 3 or 4 tracks I later noticed they all started with “M”, it was unconscious, I thought it was interesting so I continued to name them with “M”, except for the last track wich starts with “U”, the second letter in “mUrcof”, silly huh…

You recently became a father, and you are now in demand in Europe. It must be difficult to juggle everything at the moment?
Any parent will know that being away for long from your 3 month old baby is difficult, but I try to make up for it by staying home most of the time when I’m not performing. I got my studio at home and I hardly go out, “somos hermitaños en la ciudad” (NDLR: "we are hermits in the city").

Are you involved with other artists on other projects?
I work mostly alone, I’m too obsessive, I do collaborate with other people sometimes, but that’s not very often.

Who would you like to collaborate with?
Hmmm, I don’t know.

What is your opinion of the current electronic scene?
Well, too many releases to keep up with and too many styles of music, there’s a lot of interesting things out there; stuff for all kinds of taste; infinite ramifications. I think because of technology becoming more accessible, we’ll see more and more new music emerging from unexpected places, which is great.

Are you planning to release an album as Terrestre?
Yes, next year I hope, although I just released a split mini-album with another Nortec artist, PlanktonMan thru Lake Shore (better known for their movie productions) and Provider/Run Recordings.

Do you already have an idea of what the next Murcof album will sound like?
Not really, I have some ideas, but what really matters is that I maintain an open mind and see what happens, I think I will work with the same intention, on the same emotional territory.

Thank you to Fernando and Lauren.

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