Morrissey fans don't have to wait for a Smiths reunion. The "Mexrrissey" tour — a tribute by Mexican musicians to Morrissey's music — will tour the UK and then land in New York and L.A.
The idea was prompted when producer Camilo Lara, who records as the Mexican Institute of Sound, and Andy Wood, promoter for a London festival called La Linea, thought it would be a good fit for "The Year of Mexico" in the UK — a cultural exchange with a different country each year. To create a Latino spin on Morrissey classics, Lara reached out to Mexican musicians, including Ceci Bastida.
"When he called me back in December and he asked me to do, I just said yes. I didn't even know what was going to happen," said Bastida, who lives in L.A..
The show will also feature Chetes, Jay de la Cueva, Alejandro Flores, Ricardo Najera, Alex Escobar, and Sergio Mendoza and Jacob Valenzuela from the band Calexico. The melodies are recognizable, but the songs will be performed in Spanish — por supuesto.
"I think that's been the biggest challenge — translating his lyrics has been incredibly hard work," Bastida said. "You don't want to lose the meaning, the feeling of it, and then you realize that the way that he phrases things is so strange."
Bastida spoke with The Frame's Oscar Garza on the connection between Mexicans and Morrissey, the project's challenges and interpreting his music.
Listen to two of the tracks here:
You were a Smiths fan growing up in Tijuana?
I was a huge Smiths fan. Yes, in junior high. I had all the albums, I knew them all. Back then — I'm going to sound so old — you would put on the album and just stare at the cover and read the stuff inside. I did that a lot.
I've been aware for a while now about this huge appeal with Morrissey in the young Latino, Chicano communities. Were you aware it was a huge deal?
I wasn't. I moved to L.A. almost 10 years ago. I wasn't aware what was going on with the whole Morrissey fan base he has over here. But I do know that Mexicans are very much in love with him. One of the conversations we often have is that it has to do with the fact that Mexicans love drama or melodrama. His songs are so emotional and we tend to gravitate towards that kind of song writing, so he's huge.
Was this originally conceived to be a band? Is an album going to come of this?
We're not quite sure. When Camilo called me, he just asked me to do this. What he proposed to me in the beginning was to do this tour in the UK, as part of this cultural exchange. It happened that some people seemed to be interested, so now we're going to go to New York also after we come back and then we're going to do a show in L.A. It has become something interesting. It's been a lot of work and they've done a really great job with the music.
Are you reinterpreting the songs in Spanish?
I didn't know in the beginning, but of course it makes sense. I think that's been the biggest challenge — translating his lyrics has been incredibly hard work. You don't want to lose the meaning, the feeling of it, and then you realize that the way that he phrases things is so strange. Trying to translate it and at the same time make it fit properly that has been the biggest challenge. But musically it's amazing.
How different is your version of "Everyday is Like Sunday" from Morrissey's?
It's not incredibly different. There's moments and phrases that do change. We play around with different ideas, we don't want to do an exact copy of what he's doing. All of this with all of the respect in the world, obviously, but there's a song that I sing that mentions Dublin and bunch of other cities and we switched it up to Atizapán and and bunch of different cities in Mexico. We allowed ourselves to do that — play around with it. But we're still trying to keep the essence of the song, not go too far away from it.
Is Morrissey aware of this project?
According to our sources he is aware. I don't know if he's going to attend any of the shows. We're not sure if he's going to like it, he might hate it. But I think that's what happens with him and fans of his music — people are very passionate. They might love it they might think it's sacrilegio [sacrilegious].
While you're at it, check out the Morrisseyoke night at the Eastside Luv bar: