Making meaningful connections in Mexico

When I knew I was going to the México Y2K18 International Live Looping Festival, I thought I would make cool vlogs of my travels and musical endeavours, like I did in California. But after a couple of days, I realised that this was not going to happen. One of the reasons was that I was not travelling with my beloved other half, who has a talent for filming the right shots at the right time. The other reason was that it appeared impossible for me to experience this trip as a beholder, as the observing outsider. From the beginning it was clear that it was going to be an intense, personal and emotional journey, and I had no choice but to fully immerse myself into Mexico and it’s people. So what follows beneath is not a musical report, but an attempt to stress out my internal experience.

These days in Amsterdam, I’m living a rather quiet life. I spend a great deal of my time alone, by choice, and I always find enough time for contemplating and recovering from overexcitabilities. So the contrast between Mexico City’s hyperactive energy and my introspective, hibernating lifestyle couldn’t be bigger. Suddenly I was around people almost 24/7; processing new sensations, smells, tastes and a foreign language I can only speak on a basic level. And when my brain gets overstimulated, I don’t sleep anymore. In Guadalajara, ridiculously hot nights added up to the insomnia to a point where I was losing my short term memory, and it was only after a doctor gave me a recipe for Xanax that I got some decent sleep for the first time.

On the bright side: not enough sleep and overstimulation activated the vivid extravert in me, which is definitely there but doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. And in order to carefully balance my much-needed down time versus all the social and musical temptations, I had to be in touch with my gut feeling like never before. As a result I was feeling connected with myself, in the right place and with the right people, doing the right things. And then life gets as good as it can be. So whatever I encountered, I chose to fully engage in everything, by accepting en enjoying every part of it, also the hard bits. My temporary Mexican life became all that existed in the present moment: my social network, the Spanish language school, and of course the looping festival and the music. Sometimes I even forgot I had a life in The Netherlands that I had to go back to at some point.

I arrived in Mexico two weeks before the start of the festival. This gave me the opportunity to hang out with the Mexican musicians I met in Santa Cruz last year which I immediately recognized as warm, loving, and inspiring new friends that I wanted to spend more time with. And I’m glad we did, before the insane chaos of the festival kicked in. As the festival started, I was meeting more kindred spirits every day, with whom it was so easy to connect with on all kinds of personal and musical levels. Professionally, the festival was a huge success too. 32 artists from 8 countries played at 10 music venues and 5 metro stations, and concluded with closing concerts at a beautiful open air stage from the National Art Centre. There, I performed my best live looping show until now. I also made my Spanish-speaking debut on several radio and tv-stations, and sold all the cd’s I brought with me. Overall, I reached a lot more people with my music in one month than I usually do in one year.

In my video about the Santa Cruz Looping Festival I said the following: “It’s a community that supports all types of music. Artists are very engaged and supportive towards each other. It’s a warm community, like a musical family. And I’m really grateful that I’m part of this family now.” Looking back at my Mexican adventure now, a couple of weeks later, I think looping festivals are even more than that. It gives me an experience I seldom experience in group dynamics: I feel my efforts and presence are balanced. With this I mean that I’m not giving more energy than I receive, and vice versa. Within this tribe I don’t feel like I’m falling short if I set my personal boundaries, and I don’t feel I have to hold back as an artist in order to allow space for others. I think this is because we are all quirky soloists with professional standards, but we don’t take ourselves too seriously. Curious as we are, we are eager to collaborate, learn new skills and share knowledge. And we genuinely enjoy it if someone else takes the stage, shines and exceeds. Live looping looks like a solo-performance, but as an art form it is built on meaningful connections.

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