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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Memo: M-Audio and the Tijuana Commute

posted by on August 28 at 11:35 AM

memosmiley.jpgThere is a music man from Tijuana, MX named Memo. He sings and fronts a four-piece electrified rock band called Buddy Akai. Elements of 80’s dance mix with rhythmic distorted chords for their sound. Buddy Akai is extremely tight. Passages never squirm or fire off half assed. They’re confident and at ease, and from their first measure of notes on, they own it. People jump and contort into 360’s. On a Monday night at San Diego’s Casbah, they fill the room and distribute hits.


Memo stands spread eagle center stage, bobs his singing head, and tweaks a three-tiered synth tower with both hands screaming, “Oooooooooh Yeaaaaaahh”. Three of the four members of Buddy Akai live in San Diego, where they are officially from. Memo commutes from Tijuana, sometimes crossing the border twice a day.

Driving in caravan by the white sands of the Imperial Dune border, we talked gear and border life:


What’s that synth tower you’re tweaking up there? Habla for me about your set up.
Memo: I use a laptop with Ableton Live and Korg VST’s connected to an M-Audio Axiom 25 keyboard/ midi controller.

How is it all implemented into Buddy Akai?
I beat the hell out of it. For those who are unaware of the greatness that is Ableton Live. It lets me open an unlimited amount of channels. Half are used for samples and the rest for MIDI. I have fx running on each channel as well as knobs, pads, and triggers which I assign using the M-Audio Axiom. This lets me control parameters and manipulate sounds while we’re playing. I can loop on the fly. The Axiom is a 25 key controller so there’s only so much you can do with it. I do a lot of homework and pre-program arpegiated scenes to each key that I can sample, cut, and manipulate live. I can shorten or extend parts of songs, slow BPM or even transpose notes so we’re not confined to a certain track or time signature. For us it’s all about being able to feel it. Since we play along to a metronome, it gets a little crazy.

What is it like going back and forth across the border so often?
Well, growing up so close to the border and having family and friends on both sides, it’s second nature. Legal drinking age in Tijuana is 18. It’s easier to get an ID there, so we’d do most of our partying down there. Many shows in Tijuana are like raves, in that they go all night. People in Mexico are genuine and humble and it’s always been the band’s home away from home. Things have gotten a little more tense at the border crossing after 9/11. The security has really intensified.

How can American bands play in Mexico?
If you are planning on gigging down in the great Tenochtitlan Mexico, you definitely want to check in and register your gear. You gotta write down all your serial numbers and model names and you might have to pay a tax depending on how new your gear looks and how long you’ll be visiting. Sometimes you can just wing it and drive and hope you get the green light. Buddy Akai is caught between two realities and were just trying to make the absolute best of it and the truth is, everyone goes through the same hassle.

Are there any Mexican bands you are into right now?
I have to say check out ex Nortecs Tijuana Sound Machine. It’s the same great Nortec sound, different name. We also just played with Kinky and they rock it as well. There’s also this other band called Buddy Akai. They might be latin, I don’t know. I heard they’re pretty good.

RSS icon Comments


Border crossing is tough maaaan. Igot fucked with going into Canada, how pathetic is that??!!!

Posted by Spread Eagle | August 28, 2008 12:42 PM

This man/band rules.

Posted by Grant Brissey | August 28, 2008 5:55 PM

Yeah, Buddy Akai are killer. Nice work Trent. Love your stuff.

Posted by Klank | August 29, 2008 11:25 AM

Love these posts Mr. Trent. Always good stuff.

Posted by Kevin | August 29, 2008 10:00 PM

Buddy Akai always rocks the house... Following them to Vegas, L.A or whatever is always fun and crazy.
Love Memo, hopefully you and Alma will move in with us pretty soon so you can send that border line to la verga.
And lots of love the rest ofcourse Wally, Rotny and Alvaro.
Great band, greater friends.

Posted by Martell of Sakyas | August 30, 2008 12:26 PM

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