Mexicans with Guns‘ (MwG) name was inspired by the NWA (Niggaz With Attitude), and his sound is very much inspired by the concept of mestizaje. As Ernest Gonzalez, the man behind the mask of MwG, grew up with a certain lack of Mexican culture, he uses music as a tool to reconnect and experiment with his roots. Before his recent show at the Darkroom as part of the Facemelt and FEx Events productions, Remezcla sat down with Ernest to go deep under the luchador mask and his day job as a middle school teacher.
His latest LP Ceremony blends a dark mood with tribal and indigenous sounds with experimental electronic beats that is a reflection of Gonzalez’ fascination with psychedelic drugs, spirituality, and the half-Catholic, half-mushroom-eating ceremonies of Shamans. Keep an ear open this fall for his upcoming collaboration with Toy Selectah and his evolving sounds under MwG.
What’s with the Name?
I really want to make something that’s gonna get people dancing, or be harder — just different from what I was doing. I thought I needed a name for the sound. I knew it was gonna be completely different from the other stuff I was making. I was thinking I need a name that sounds badass. I started to think of other band names for some inspiration, the first ones to come up was NWA. I thought that sounds like probably one of the hardest names ever, what would be the Mexican equivalent of that? For what ever reason, Mexicans with Guns sounded dope.
In some of your posts you describe yourself as “reincarnated Aztec God and reincarnated Shaman”, how has your appreciation for Shamans and Aztec culture influence your music?
My parents raised me without too much religious background and without too much Mexican culture. I’m from San Antonio, and I grew up on MTV just like everyone else. I’m American and pop culture is what I know, and at some point everyone wants to know where they come from. That made me want to learn more about Mexican culture, and led me to Shamanism. It is just my personal beliefs that psychedelic drugs tie in with spirituality in some kind of way, with the brain. I feel like spirituality and psychedelic experiences tie in together. There’s some kind of link there that I don’t know what it is but it feels right and natural to me. Learning more about that, I learned about a shaman from Oaxaca, Mexico, María Sabina. It morphed into this album Ceremony which is much more dark and moody than I had ever thought it would come out to be.
“When Mexican with Guns first started, it was meant to be party music. But choosing that name almost lead me towards this path of discovering more things about what it is to be Mexican and Mexican-American.”
Your music uses a lot of bass and drums. What draws you to that sound?
Drums is really what attracts me to music in the first place. I always wanted to be a drummer, secretly. I feel like drums is the heart of the music. Drums play a big part of setting up the mood on how you feel when you listen to the music. It sets up the tempo, and I feel music relates to the heartbeat. I ask myself: What was music important for back in the day? They probably just play the drums, chant, and dance around the fire. Its an important part of being human. That’s why I wanted to name my album ‘ceremony.’ I wanted to get back to the feeling of being indigenous.
Your video for “Dame Lo” reminds me of a Tarantino film. What was the vision for the video?
Really? It was the vision of a director who goes by System D128 from Philadelphia. Actually, the video is more subdued than what he had in mind. It was filmed at our house, the clubs that we go to, and in the flea market with our homies. We did a casting call and lots of our homies came out who were in the video. For System, one of his main inspirations was the Mexican Pulp Comics. They’re real sexual and violent — almost Mexican anime pretty much. In the video, there’s a shot where they’re around a table about to take shots and in the wall there’s a poster done from that artist. It’s his little shout out to that artist.