MIJO IS AN alias of producer Alec Sander, a hyperactive player in Mexico’s internationally hyped and ever-evolving dance music scene. Sander has been pumping out Techmex records as co-founder of innovative and prolific labels Electrique Music, Disque Discos, and Exxxtra Picante while maintaining a steady output of magnetic and mutated house music under the monikers Mijo, La Royale, Moon Runner, and Yesco.
“I think Mexican artists are always struggling to set their work apart from the obvious American and European influence that marks a colonized country—and besides that, in modern times, we can’t really escape American music because of radio and TV,” Sander says. As Mijo, he blends New York house bass lines, Detroit techno snares, and Italo disco, but what makes his music unique is the influence of street life in Mexico City.
“Between 2010 and 2014, we realized that we were drifting apart from our influences and actually developed a unique Mexican tech sound,” he says. “It’s trashy, it does not take itself too seriously, most of the equipment does not work, and 99 percent of the very good tracks are made under the influence of mezcal and other substances.... We created a circuit that goes from Vicente Sanfuentes in Los Angeles, goes through Panama, Colombia, Peru, Chile, and probably ends in the Patagonia, really close to the South Pole, with techno wunderkind Rous. We share the same idea, speaking about the third world through techno music.... We do this for the love.”
Mijo’s latest, Próximo Berlín, was released on Sanfuentes Records, home of Alejandro Paz and Roman and Castro. The EP was inspired by a series of online articles that wondered, “Is Mexico City the next Berlin?”—a question Sander finds both flattering and humorous.
“I do not intend to offend or attack this idea in a political way, actually it’s just a funny approach to the subject,” he says. “[Mexico City] is dirty.... We always find a way to ruin things, or genius ways to solve the unsolvable. There are open sewers on the road, and you can buy cocaine from a clown, real story.... Believe me, it’s very far from resembling the capital city of Germany.”
Sharing the spreading spotlight with identifiably Latin, Mexico-based crews like NAAFI and Maligna, Sander’s enthusiastic take on techno has taken him around the globe. “I was playing in Milan with my friend Fabrizio Mammarella, and it was Halloween night—here was a vampire girl playing dead inside a see-through coffin for the whole night. Also a couple of feet away there was some people doing live bondage, and the CDJs were full of fake blood. It was like the party at that film Blade with Wesley Snipes that I watched when I was around five or seven years old—it never crossed my mind that I would be involved in that situation two decades later.”