Boogát brings Mexico and mezcal to Mercury Lounge
Juno Award winning artist Boogát is going to dance the house down at Mercury Lounge this Friday November 10. His current North American tour marks the launch of the Canadian rapper’s third album, San Cristobal Baile Inn. A raucous collection of latin and hip hop dance beats, soulful Spanish lyrics, and impressive international collaborations, San Cristobal has the eclectic, high energy feel that Boogát has made his own. His last album Neo-Reconquista won World Music Album of the Year at the 2016 JUNO Awards.
Of Paraguayan and Mexican descent, he was born in Québec City to immigrant parents and moved to Montreal in 2001 to pursue music. Singing primarily in Spanish, his discography ranges across topics of love, family, revolution, politics, Montreal, community, and the immigrant identity. Brilliantly balancing the sexy with the serious, Boogát also shows his sense of humour with his music. He has released a tribute to a Montreal Portuguese rotisserie chicken restaurant, and live shows often include a song inspired by an incantation from Indiana Jones. He passionately encourages the audience to participate in some of the more interactive songs, and gives some of the very best hugs when you tell him how much you love his music. His live shows are intimate and eclectic dance parties, even if you don’t speak a word of Spanish.
San Cristobal Baile Inn comes out of a year living in Mexico City with his family, in search of his own connection to his parent’s culture. Connecting with the local music scene brought new collaborations to the mix, and a new distinctly Mexican sound to the album. The emotions of a first generation Canadian exploring his heritage are complicated and visceral, as so many of us can relate. But so few of us have the communication skills that Boogát does.
San Cristobal Baile Inn is aptly named for San Cristobal (St. Christopher), the patron saint of travelers. The themes of travel, internationalism, immigration and community are cornerstones of Boogát’s work, and this album brings those themes together in a heady cumbia/reggaeton/folk/rap/electronic frenzy. The catchy first single Eres Una Bomba has the sleek, sexy rhythm of a latin party song, followed directly by the folksy Viajar Contigo featuring Toronto band Lemon Bucket Orkestra who describe themselves as a “balkan-klezmer-gypsy-party-punk-super-band”. Add a tuba to Spanish hip hop, and you are beginning to understand Boogát’s incredible range of concepts and sounds. Las Freses de Coyoacán is slow and haunting, and features Boogát’s smoky singing voice unlike any of his other songs. The production is stripped away, and in the tradition of Mexican Boleros trios, Boogát sings about the passing of time accompanied by horns and a classical guitar. What may seem cheesy on a beach in Cancún, is timeless and reverent. Mezcalero Feliz is a fun, chill song about traditional Mexican Mezcal, a liquor closely related to tequila, and its customs. The song plays on Mexican folk maxims that celebrate Mezcal, with a fresh interpretation of a musical style popular in traditional Mexican music.
The album jumps from genre to genre, each song with its own personality and message. An emotional and experimental masterpiece, Boogát claims this his best album yet, and he isn’t wrong.
Since he is also a genuine and humble artist, Boogát took a few minutes out of his crazy schedule to answer a few of my burning questions via email.
Apt613: Collaborations with other international artists have been a way of showcasing your international, and self-described ‘immigrant’ music style. How did you see the collaboration with Lemon Bucket Orkestra fitting with the feel of the new album? What drew you to their sound?
Boogát: We met at Winnipeg Folk Fest on a workshop and we became instant friends. It’s my favourite Canadian band right now. I love their energy. They’re great and they’re also carrying that immigrant flag high and clear.
You spent a year living in Mexico with your family, reconnecting to your Mexican roots. How did that influence the feel of this album? Do you see yourself going back to live in Mexico again?
Going back this week, actually. I see myself going anywhere to live, I’m a nomad. The more I travel, the more I feel connected to humanity as a whole!
“Las fresas de Coyacán” is a complete departure from the rest of the album, and your previous work. Can you explain the meaning of the song to you? Is it political?
It’s a song inspired by old Boleros trios, Los Panchos, specifically. It’s about the death of communism. It doesn’t have a political message, it just talks about something that is somehow political. Art is always political in my opinion.
“Au Revoir México” is obviously a love song to Mexico, but it is written in French, unlike any of the songs on your albums. Why did you want to do this song in French?
Why not? I wrote so much about Montreal in Spanish that I had to return the favour the other way around for Mexico. Simple.
What are you most excited to share from San Cristobal Baile Inn?
Everything. I think it’s my best album to date, doing it was pure fun, the band and the show is better than ever and crowds are greater and greater everywhere we go. We’re blessed. My message is still a message of love seeking what we have in common, not the other way around.
What can fans, new and old, expect from your show at the Mercury Lounge?
A great show and a memorable night of music. We will be doing a bit of everything new and old.
Will there be CDs available to purchase at the event? What about autographs!?
Of course. CDs are $20 and autographs cost a nice smile!
So bring your smiles and your dancing shoes. Boogát is bringing the world to The Mercury Lounge (56 ByWard Market Square), and we are all invited. Doors open at 8pm and the show starts at 9pm this Friday November 10. Tickets are $12 online and are available at the door. For more from Boogát, check out Apt613’s 2015 interview here. To purchase or stream San Cristobal Baile Inn, visit http://smarturl.it/Boogat-SanCristobal.