By Dulce Colín Original Print Publication: November, 2007
You know who President Felipe Calderon is, and also recognize his nemesis, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, from the tense 2006 presidential election. You know who Carlos Slim is and, if you live in Mexico, chances are you write him at least one check a month. You can read former President Vicente Fox's new book in English. Actress Salma Hayek just had a baby. You swooned when actor Gael Garcia Bernal (who is Mexican) played Che Guevara (who wasn't). But aren't you bored of seeing the same old names in the headlines?
That's why we decided to apply some fresh thought to the idea of the "top" list. We looked North and South, solicited input from editors, journalists and people "in the know" around Mexico, gathered a long list and went into the war room. We wanted interesting people who added dimension to our sense of what Mexico is and can be. It got heated, but in the end we came out with 25 amazing people. Once we had the list we had to chase our busy subjects down. Our team went out to interview and research the nominees, and we got some of the most talented photographers around to take their portraits. The resulting group of 25 scientists, economists, journalists, chefs, artists, conservationists, entrepreneurs, producers, activists, philanthropists and athletes are presented here for your consideration.
A hundred sweaty, dancing adolescents – beers in hand, sporting dark glasses, ripped jeans, sweatshirts and sneakers – face the stage at a club in Mexico City’s Centro, where Los Dynamite are rocking it. A group of adults watch from the wings: editors of rock magazines, radio personalities, a record company executive and Héctor Mijangos, the czar of Mexico’s proliferating indie scene.
- 25 Mexicans: Amalia Garcia, beacon
- 25 Mexicans: Andrés Rozental, counselor
- 25 Mexicans: Carlos Marin, pioneer
- 25 Mexicans: Carmen Correa, virtuousa
- 25 Mexicans: Clara Gonzalez, fashionista
- 25 Mexicans: Daniel Aguilar, chronicler
- 25 Mexicans: Dario Ramirez, straight shooter
- 25 Mexicans: Deyanira Aquino, ethnologist
- 25 Mexicans: Eduardo García, prognosticator
- 25 Mexicans: Elisa Miller, ingenue
- 25 Mexicans: Hector Rivero Borrell, trustee
- 25 Mexicans: Jessy Bulbo, rockstar
- 25 Mexicans: Lorena Ochoa, champion
- 25 Mexicans: Minerva Cuevas, conceptualist
- 25 Mexicans: Pablo Cruz, maestro
- 25 Mexicans: Patrica Mercado, alternative
- 25 Mexicans: Raul Padilla Lopez, crusader
- 25 Mexicans: Sonia Arias, prodigy
- 25 Mexicans: Subcomandante Marcos, spokesman
Mijangos, a large, 45-year-old capitalino with grey hair and a preference for geek-chic glasses, figures prominently in Mexico’s changing music industry. In 2000, Mijangos convened a group of DJ friends and started a company to produce and promote dance music. When he sensed that the indie scene was on the verge of exploding, he steered the new company, Noiselab, towards rock.
Mexican rock used to mean bands glorifying Mexican nationalism. Now a group from Guadalajara could just as well be from Glasgow, Newark or Amsterdam. Los Dynamite is a good example: one of the most popular new bands, these four chilangos sing in English. Before 2000, it would have been almost impossible for them to release an album in Mexico or get play on the radio. Last year, Mijangos and Noiselab launched the band’s first album – Greatest Hits.
Noiselab produces and represents top indie bands such as Instituto Mexicano del Sonido, Los Fancy Free, Réplica, Sonido Lasser, Sub-Division, Chikita Violenta and Zoé. In addition to homegrown talent, Mijangos promotes foreign bands in Mexico, including Interpol, Arcade Fire, Belle & Sebastian, Delays, Yo La Tengo and Cat Power .
Saying Mijangos is solely responsible for revolutionizing alternative rock in Mexico would ignore the importance of specialized media, concert promoters, a receptive public and the bands that played in garages for years before Noiselab existed. But who said visionaries have to do everything?
Note: This article was originally published in our November, 2007 issue.