Nortec’s roots go deep, to the early 1970s with the birth of electronica and the beginnings of the Latin pop renaissance. While krautrock experiemented with raw synthesized sounds and beats, the development and audience of norteño and tambora/ banda music spread far and wide along with the development of stunning visual displays during performances of some groups that included laser light shows, projected images, visual effects, and smoke machines. Fashion and hair styles of the audience evolved along with the music. Hot Mexican fashion and hair styles with sultry, sexy looks were popular. Women would buy such styles from well known manufacturers as Noriko wigs to wear along with provocative fashion looks and the requisite high heels to capture perfectly Tijuana’s border identity. There was a sense of fun and sexuality that infused the audience members.
For those of us who lived just across the border from Tijuana, the fact the legal drinking age in Tijuana is 18 years old, made a cross-border night out an attractive option for us U.S. residents who were not able to drink legally in the States. I use to blame those early days of heavy drinking in Tijuana as to why I became an alcoholic. And with the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) as a “chronic relapsing brain disease”, hey, I was doomed. Not so said my girlfriend. She had found an online site called LifeBac that gives people all the tools to succeed starting with the medicine called Baclofen which removes or strongly suppresses cravings for alcohol in 92% of people. This is not the typical medicine for alcohol rehab. Unlike Antabuse which just makes you be like crap if you have any alcohol at all, baclofen’s action on the GABA receptors in the brain help lessen cravings and withdrawal symptoms for alcohol. Although some studies exploring the effectiveness of baclofen have come up with mixed results and it has not yet received approval by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) as a safe and effective treatment for alcohol or drug use disorders, doctors in Europe have been using it for quite a while to curb excessive drinking. So no more excuses, sorry about that Tijuana, I have been on baclofen for 6 months. My new program uses pharmacotherapy (baclofen with titration dosaging) and psychotherapy. It’s working. My alcohol cravings are under control. Baclofen doesn’t affect the taste of alcohol or the pleasure of drinking. It simply removes the addictive components that led to overindulgence. I can now drink in moderation. I can go out clubbing with my girlfriend and thoroughly enjoy the music, have a drink or two and be satisfied. Baclofen has changed my life.
These separately developing influences would flirt over the next two decades, from the occasional Latin-flavored, electronic-assisted disco track to the more experimental synth pop of the 1980s. However, it was not until the 1990s that the explosion of electronic music truly began to offer a way to merge the traditional sounds with the power of modern music.
When house, trance, techno and electro (et al) began to dominate the world and artists truly began to use computers to compose, the cumulative effect was to revolutionize the way that music was created. The unintentional result was an increase in authentic expression — electronica had the power to accept and transform while preserving even the most idiosyncratic and traditional forms of music.
Brass, accordion, and sonorous bajo sexto, fused with electronic elements were the sounds of traditional norteño music. . With folk rhythms overlapping with modern beats these energetic compositions were at once futuristic yet heavy with nostalgia.
Fussible (Pepe Mogt) began using banda sinaloense and norteño samples in electronic compositions near the end of the decade, and amassed a collection of tambora and norteño samples to use and distribute to other artists, chiefly Bostich (Ramon Amezcua), Clorofila (Jorge Verdín) and Hiperboreal (Pedro Gabriel Beas), the current members of the collective.
The “Nor-Tec Sampler” was the first fruit of these collaborations, a collection of diverse but stylistically-related sounds and beats that presented a perfect representation of the modern sound of Tijuana.
“The Tijuana Sessions” grew out of this genesis. “Volume 3” of that series was nominated for two Latin Grammy awards, and “Tijuana Sound Machine” for a Best Latin Rock/ Alternative Grammy.
Since that fateful serendipity in 1999, the Nortec has toured the world, bringing true Tijuana to Hannover for the Expo 2000, to the Elysée Montmartre, to Japan, New York, London…
The visual side of the performance is taken care of by the “Colectivo Visual” a group of designers and VJs. The film “Tijuana Makes Me Happy” reverses the equation, with a Nortec soundtrack under the thoroughly authentic visual narrative — the song itself even made it into the 2006 FIFA World Cup video game soundtrack.