The Mariachi Ghost blends traditional Mexican music with Canadian culture


“Mexican comic book music.” 

That’s how Mariachi Ghost lead vocalist/guitarist Jorge Requena describes his band.

“The premise is that we explore traditional Mexican songs and ideas that have been played for hundreds of years and translate them into our culture,” bassist Adam Kroeker says.

The group’s self-titled debut LP will be released with a show on November 2 at the West End Cultural Centre.

Formed in 2009, The Mariachi Ghost is comprised of Raquena, Kroeker, Alexandra Garrido, Rafael Reyes, Ian Mikita, Bruce Berven, Tim Friesen and Gabriel Fields. 

With eight members, recording an album proved to be a challenge.

“Onstage, we play with eight people. On the record, the skills of everybody doubled because everybody plays more than one instrument, so there’s even more layers (to the music),” Requena says. 

“The studio had to rent more channels for our base tracks. There’s also more voices, a lot of choir arrangements,” Requena explains.

Fans of Garrido’s dancing on the tarima, a Mexican stomp box and a staple of The Mariachi Ghost’s live performances, don’t need to worry about missing it on the album.

“Alexandra danced on the tarima in the recording studio,” Requena says. “The microphones are arranged so you’ll actually be able to hear Alexandra dancing. You can hear her chains. All those elements are still there.”

The album wouldn’t have happened without the band’s Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign.

“We went over our goal of $10,000 by a thousand bucks,” Requena says. “The people who invested in our album will be listed as producers in the credits.”

Ayah Norris leads marketing and community programs for Indiegogo in Canada. She says that The Mariachi Ghost’s campaign was a success because they saw it as a way to connect with their fans.

“By participating and contributing to a campaign, you’re now part of the creation process.” Norris says. “They did a really good job at building a compelling story and keeping the momentum going.” 

The campaign has allowed the band to cast a wide local net, and play more local shows and festivals, which Requena notes is a dream they’ve all collectively shared since they were teenagers.

“Our guitar player Rafael was saying that he had dreams when he was 16 about going to festivals like Harvest Moon and playing the shows,” Requena says.

“It’s hard to find shitty musicians in Winnipeg. When you go to a festival, you get to hear some kick ass bands. Now we’re playing with them.”

The band makes good use of Manitoba weather, playing festivals during the summer and working on their music through the winter. 

“It’s either winter or festivals in Manitoba,” jarana player Fields adds. 

For Kroeker, the cold weather makes a good muse.

“It gives us an opportunity to create songs like ‘Frostbite’, where we rage against something,” he says.

“The winter is always something to fall back to. You know its coming. It’s always fucking coming,” Requena adds.

After the album release party, The Mariachi Ghost plans to start touring.

“Now that we actually have an album, we’re going to be able to cast a net worldwide,” Requena says.

Mikita, the band’s drummer, sums it all up.

“First we conquer Manitoba, then Canada, then the world.”

Published in Volume 68, Number 7 of The Uniter (October 16, 2013)

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