Alberto Martinez, the guitarist and founder of Blood Dance, a band formed in Mexico City in 2016, speaks with DJ Jason about his music.
DJ Jason: It’s great to be able to chat with you. Blood Dance is Mexico’s best-known Goth band in America and England. How long have you been around as Blood Dance? Tell us how the band came into being. Who are the current members?
Alberto: Hey Jason, thanks for taking the time to interview us. I wasn’t aware that we are considered one of the best-known, but I’m happy to see that this music is thriving! We’ve been around for 6 years as a formal project. The band initially started as a solo project that I was putting together as a couple of other projects were sunsetting. My whole intent with Blood Dance was to make something a bit more focused on listeners rather than myself as a composer. I wanted to try and make something a bit more energetic and delve more into pop culture and danceable backbeats. I am a child of the 80s, and for that reason, its music, aesthetics, etc. have positive associations in mind, so it also is heavily influenced by the music I heard as a child. I guess you could say it was about touching upon dark themes without all the doom and gloom. As the songs progressed I sought out musicians to help me play them live. I initially thought about a more minimal lineup but decided that if it’s going to be old-school, then I should go full force with a 5-piece trad rock band. Since then each musician that has come through blood dance has contributed in some way or another to the evolution of the songs. Currently, we have Alex Vourdalak as our Lead singer, Castel on Synths (and occasionally guitar), Bree on Bass, Natalya Speranza on Drums, and Alberto (myself) on guitar and vocals.
DJ Jason: Do you write all the music and vocals in Blood Dance songs?
Alberto: Since the inception of the band, I have been the primary composer for the band, Castel has also contributed songs, and we hope that as we move forward that we can have songs from all the members since we have varied perspectives and are all seasoned musicians. I initially sand on our Demos, but felt that I do better as a guitarist than a frontman, so I put myself on guitar primarily. The official recordings have Alex and Revenant Murphy on vocals with me as backing vocals. However, We expect to switch things up a bit moving forward.
DJ Jason: Were you in bands before Blood Dance? Were they similar to what you do now?
Alberto: My first teenage project was a Hardcore band, I was also in an indie rock/shoegaze band called Red Light Abstract. With that band, we had the good fortune of recruiting Frank Arkwright (The Smiths, Depeche Mode, Arctic Monkeys, Interpol) to help us with a track, but soon fell apart after that. The project before Blood Dance was A Bitter Gift, which had Castel, Natalya, and Me as members. That one had a sound that was influenced by bands in the vein of Portishead, Deftones, Dead Can Dance, Cocteau Twin, West Dylan Thordson, and Arvo Pärt. I’d say these bands/genres are where I feel more emotionally connected. I like the idea of exploring textures and arrangements with lyrics that was is more melancholic and introspective; however, it becomes an emotional black hole, and digging myself out of that can be difficult. As I grow older I feel the need to dance and celebrate darkness, rather than letting it become an albatross around my neck. Blood Dance is perfect for that.
DJ Jason: You have a solo side project called death/light that is dark electronic. Would you like to tell us about it?
Alberto: That’s a project that I try to work on when I have time (which is rare). We’ve been playing in a lot of shows with excellent “Post Punk” bands; which today means drum machines with rigid 4/4 back beats. While I love this genre and the music coming out, at times it becomes monotonous.
In 2019, I moved up to California for the year, and while driving to the Museum of Death in Hollywood I saw a keyboard piled on top of Buch of clothes next to the curb. I noticed that it was a 1984 Yamaha dx-7 and immediately made a U-Turn. I saw this old Mexican Lady on a rocking chair outside the apt complex and asked her in Spanish If that keyboard belonged to someone. She told me that someone threw it out 3 days ago, to which I replied that I was going to take it. When I got home I noticed that all it needed was one key replaced (3 dollars) and a good cleaning. It seemed like a shame to me that someone would throw away such an awesome synth and decide I was going to make a project that was primarily that keyboard. I have this feeling that all instruments have a spirit and they play through us rather than the other way around. Me and that synth connected and I started making music that was a bit different from what I usually make. I started making music that seemed more influenced by old-school Freestyle music such as Johnny O, Exposé, Lisa Lisa, etc as well as Goth to a certain extent. I felt that it was a good opportunity to explore this sound and decided that I was going to make a back story for the music to inspire and guide me. So, Death/Light, it’s the story of a Chicano Gang Member that gets bitten by and becomes a Vampire in 1982. This project also pays homage to my family and friends who listened to freestyle but also to Depeche Mode, Pet Shop Boys, and The Cure. That’s more of the environment I come from.
DJ Jason: Blood Dance opened for Clan of Xymox recently. How was that experience?
Alberto: We were given the chance to open for Clan of Xymox in their first presentation here in Mexico in 2022. Overall it was a great experience. We didn’t get the chance to interact with them much, but sharing the stage was an honor. When I first moved to Mexico in 2008 I remember people were excited about Clan of Xymox coming to play. For me, it was sort of a full-circle experience. I think it was the first time that we all expressed that we were nervous on stage; which rarely happens. We did get props from them though and apparently, he spoke well of our performance on stage. We are a bit more energetic than they are so there was a bit of contrast. We’re like a noisy Machete that hits rock occasionally. They are like a master-crafted Katana.
DJ Jason: What other acts have you shared the stage with and who would you like to play with in the future?
Alberto: We have shared the stage with Spiritual bat, Plastique Noir, The Knutz, Japan Suicide, Happy, Death Party UK, and Gitane Demone. We hope to play with Mephisto Walz one day, seeing as how Bari-Bari is helping us produce our songs. The Sisters of Mercy would be awesome, Gene Loves Jezabel, perhaps Twin Tribes, Corpus Delicti, The Wake, The Mission, etc.
DJ Jason: You have written songs inspired by Aztec war poems. What is your writing process like?
Alberto: Yeah, for my Death/Light Project primarily. I’m a traditional Aztec Dancer and Identify as an Indigenous person to this continent. My identity and spirituality are a source of strength. My worldview and how I interpret things are influenced by this upbringing. Since my teen years, I’ve been on a journey like many Chicanos to understand who I am, where I come from and my place in this world. Part of this process entailed reading books on Aztec culture which brought me to Aztec poetry and warrior songs. I found that some of the things they say were things that my gang member friends from my teen years would such as comments about dying in battle, following a leader, feeling alive in the midst of violence, protecting one’s own etc. At the end of the day, many of our actions are guided by our DNA, and without trying to romanticize violence, I do feel that many Mexicans and Native Americans are like warriors that can feel trapped in a society that doesn’t gel with us and who we are. There is definitely darkness in our culture (as in all others), and I express a lot of these reflections in those lyrics. On top of this, I am a librarian here in Mexico City with infinite access to materials relating to my ancestors, which is great and has served me well to find influence for that project, as well as its overarching back story.
DJ Jason: The new single, Halloween, is well-written, catchy, and fun. Right from the start, people have taken well to it. Will there be a full album to accompany it? What are you planning for Blood Dance?
Alberto: I made that song in 2020 when I was locked in my practice room due to Covid. I was cold, it was a full moon, and I was looking for inspiration as I glanced at this lick-and-stick spider tattoo next to my synth. The opening lyrics were “cold and dark is this moonlit night. I felt a sting.. a spider’s bite”. I thought it was a cheesy song and forgot about it until July when I started browsing what I’d recorded. I figured “why not” after all, Blood Dance is about having fun. We hope to release a Barry Galvin mix next year with remixes and alt takes for that single. I think it has a lot more to give.
As for the near future, we have an epic Short Film / Music Video coming out at the end of October with a Killer Clown Theme that you can’t miss. Plus more singles. Perhaps in the future, we’ll have a physical album.
DJ Jason: I think you told me that you visit the states from time to time and that you are from Texas originally, right? Do you play in Texas? Is there any chance of an American tour? Is there anywhere that you would like to perform?
Alberto: I was born and raised in Texas. I consider myself a child of San Antonio who grew up in Houston. Most of my family lives there, so I try to drive up often to check on them. I usually try to go to the goth events when I’m there and have many friends in the scene. They always ask me the same question about playing there. We hope to perhaps play up there next year, but it’s very difficult as a Mexican band to tour up there, especially as a 5-piece. It’s both an immigration issue and a dollar and cents issue. We’re probably going to do Texas first, the west coast, and then the east coast. Maybe after that Midwest, who knows… a manager in the US would be awesome if someone is willing to step up and help our fledgling band.
DJ Jason: Is there anything that you would like to tell the readers?
Alberto: We want to express our gratitude to everyone who has supported Blood Dance. It’s been an awesome ride so far and I have met many beautiful people because of it. We are barely getting started and hope that we can stir the pot a bit to help this scene evolve and continue. Stay tuned for that! Also, the best way to support us at this moment is to listen to and share our music. You can download it for free if you like. We don’t do it for the money and are just glad that people are listening to it!