Fausto Bahia Talks Mexican Club Music and the Roots of Label N.A.A.F.I.

By Tom Lamming, July 30, 2019

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Since its founding back in 2010, N.A.A.F.I. has become one of the most talked-about underground electronic labels in Mexico. In the past few years, they have been profiled by such media outlets as the Los Angeles Times, Vice and The Fader

N.A.A.F.I. began as a club night, in much the same way as a number of labels in major Chinese cities, Beijing and Shanghai, before becoming a fully-fledged music label, publishing everything from tribal music to deconstructed club to grime, and much more in between. 

This month, Beijing promoters THUVDR and Out of Fashion Boys are bringing N.A.A.F.I. co-founder Fausto Bahia to China for a four-date national tour, just months after Lauro Robles (Lao), one of the label’s best-known artists, took in a tour of Asia. 

We caught up with Fausto Bahia (Tomas Davo) to talk more about the label and the Mexican music scene. 

Image courtesy of promoter

How and why did you guys establish N.A.A.F.I.?
In 2010, we felt like Mexico City needed something else besides what was happening, so we started N.A.A.F.I. as a club night with all the DJs and producers that we liked, who we thought were doing something different and meaningful.

What is the meaning behind the abbreviation in the label’s name?
To be honest, we never cared too much about the abbreviation. It does mean a few things like ‘Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes’ or ‘No Ambition and Fuck All Ambitions,’ but what we cared more about was that it means lazy for South Africans and back then we were really into African house music, so it just stuck with us.

Tell us how the process of turning N.A.A.F.I. from a bi-monthly club night into the label began to take shape?
Well, it was very simple to be honest. After a few years of doing parties and being part of a community, we thought that we could do more with these artists and putting out their music seemed like the obvious next step for us.

What were your goals and aspirations with N.A.A.F.I. at the very beginning?
I think we didn’t really have any but to have fun and make the scene stronger at the time and to change the music scene in Mexico. After that we just continued working. 

The unofficial mantra of N.A.A.F.I. is ‘everything that’s new is exciting.’ Is that something that you adhere to when creating new music?
I think for N.A.A.F.I. what is important is that the music doesn’t want to be other music, and we also place importance on projects that are well done.

Do you feel pressure to help push the Mexican music industry to new heights?
Actually not really, I mean if it grows it is better for all of us but that’s not our job.

Can you talk a little about the label’s latest drop System (June 30) by Debit?
After Debit’s last release, we were looking forward to hearing her next project. I work very close with her so it was a lot of fun hearing the demos for the EP and then seeing them finished and alongside the art Victor Barragan did for System. It was also really cool to hear a new tribal release. It had been a while since we released anything that is as close to tribal music, so I think everyone was really down with it.

What are your thoughts on other underground music labels in China?
I find China to be very exciting, not only the music but also the fans and the clubgoers. I’m most familiar with Genome 6.66mbp and their music is really cool but, if there are no fans to dance to it or listen to the music it doesn’t really matter in my opinion. So, this is what I find cool about China at this moment – people’s ears and minds are wide open for other kinds of music that don’t fall in the obvious places.

READ MORE: Luxixi is Flooding China’s Dancefloors with Femme Energy

You are working with Luxixi and THUVDR on your tour to China, how did that come about?
My good friend Wrack from Tokyo is close to Luxixi, and they also worked with Zutzut and have booked other N.A.A.F.I. artists in the past so it just came very organically. 

Lao came out to Asia on a tour recently as well, can we expect to see more of N.A.A.F.I. on this side of the world?
Yes, a lot actually!

N.A.A.F.I. will be taking in a four-date tour of China in August. You can details for those shows here.

Shanghai: Aug 2, 10pm; RMB80 presale, RMB100 door. ALL Club
Beijing: Aug 9, 10pm; price TBD.
Shenzhen: Aug 10, 10pm; price TBD. Oil

N.A.A.F.I. will also be taking part in two pop-up shops alongside THUVDR, FuctionLab and Turmoil Thee in Shanghai and Beijing:

Shanghai: Aug 2-3. Fasicart
Beijing: Aug 9-11.

[Cover image courtesy of promoter]

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