Watch out for Mexican Slang, the punk-ish, psychedelic power trio signed to the indie label Buzz Records, because they are on the rise. This summer, the band out of Toronto, Ontario, played shows with both Greys and Perfect Pussy. Plus, their EP Inside the Velvet Castle dropped in July and the first single,“Fever,” received a rave review on Noisey.
Lead singer Annabelle Lee (which may be the best punk name in music history) began the project in her attic before teaming up with bassist Jimmy Tony and drummer Den Holm in 2012. Since then, the complexity of their compositions have grown, but the gritty, raw soundscape that defines her early work is still the backbone of modern Mexican Slang.
BTR caught up with Lee because we absolutely had to know where they got their strange album artwork.
BreakThru Radio (BTR): What’s your background as a musician and how did you guys form?
Annabelle Lee (AL): I was trying to start a band for a while, like ever since I was a teen. I had been in a couple jam bands and nothing ever went anywhere. So I decided to record an EP on my own, and a week after that I ended up meeting Jimmy, our bass player, outside of a show, just, like, on the sidewalk. Then he and Den, our drummer, worked together, so we all got together.
Inside the Velvet Castle album art.
BTR: You guys dropped some singles before the release of your latest EP, Inside the Velvet Castle. Do you feel like your sound evolved a lot leading up to recording it?
AL: Yes, I think so, we’ve done five EPs so far and the first four were just me recording and doing all the tracks and instruments. With Inside the Velvet Castle, we collaborated a lot more and the guys did their own bass and drum parts. That has changed the sound, letting them do their own thing.
BTR: What’s the writing process like for you guys?
AL: The writing process is still the same; I demo songs by myself and then bring them in to work on them and they’ll change their parts a little bit. We’re trying to make it a bit more collaborative for the future though.
BTR: What are some of your major influences?
AL: Oh man, we listen to a lot of different stuff. Recently I’ve been listening to a lot of this band called The Hunches from Portland, who are an older band. But we do listen to a lot of post-punk, like, noise rock, like The Cramps and Devo, even though we don’t really sound like that [laughs].
BTR: We have to ask about your album art, it’s really interesting. What is it?
AL: So I used to work in a photo lab a really long time ago and it sort of accumulated lots of photo albums of just weird photos that people had left behind or didn’t want. I don’t know if that’s legal but, it happened. Things that people hadn’t picked up for years and years, and there was some really weird stuff in there. So all the album covers are just found photos from when I worked in the lab as a teenager.
BTR: How do you feel like your style has developed over the years?
AL: I’ve always been into this style of music ever since I was a kid; I’ve always listened to the same kind of stuff. The progression band-wise… I think we’re getting better! When we first started, it was a lot more basic and I was just trying to work with what I had, which wasn’t a lot in the way of recording equipment. Now we have a lot more, which affects the sound.
BTR: What was the recording process like for Inside the Velvet Castle?
AL: We recorded that in our old rehearsal space last spring. It was just the three of us on a four-track, and our drummer recorded and mixed it.
BTR: Big plans for the future?
AL: Yes! We’re in the process of writing our full-length and we’re hoping to put it out by mid-point next year on Buzz Records.