When glancing over the Americas searching for emerging, thumping beats, chances are that N.A.A.F.I. arises as a beacon for Latin’s underground music scene. Hailing from bustling Mexico City, the collective established in 2010 are carving a name for themselves by throwing blatantly fiery parties and wildly reinventing the crew’s musical references. Strongly DIY-spirited, the crew’s No.Ambition.And.Fuck.All-Interest attitude casts a truly unique imprint. And their recent gutsy performance at Camden’s own Jazz Cafe upheld their soaring global reach.
N.A.A.F.I.’s co-founding members LAO, Mexican Jihad and Fausto Bahía flew to London to represent the label in the groundbreaking series Clock Strikes 13. The programme lines-up a generous number of showcases in the city featuring producers and collectives shaping distinctive sounds in the electronic scene. Drawing from a uniting range of genres – from house to grime, to batida or gqom – the series’ curation focuses on the offbeat labels pushing the boundaries of underground sonic movements.
N.A.A.F.I.’s uncompromised aesthetics strongly resonate with Clock’s philosophy. Moreover, their parties intensely transpire both the members and the collective’s origins. So for the potentially curious crowd that flocked to Jazz Cafe’s dance floor, the crew’s energy certainly served something unforeseen.
LAO, the first on stage, opened the showcase performing a technically complex rug of exotic sounds loaded with screaming sirens and gunshots. Instantly enchanted by the broken down beats and warm rhythms, the audience loosely laid out their own physical interpretations. Still these could swiftly change pace. Besides exposing ill-skills on the deck, LAO’s set was unpredictable, awing at most. In one moment, he may be spinning a remixed Latin hit or a hauntingly grimey beat pulled out of his 2014 EP Catedral; on the other, he’ll flip directions with a glitchy Britney Spears or a danceable variation of Limp Bizkit. It’s pure boldness to light the dance floor with a dense Angolan kuduro by DJ Nervoso just before playing Marilyn Manson’s gritty ‘Beautiful People’ under some tropical tone. I mean, who does that?
Indeed N.A.A.F.I.’s upbringings trace back to wild parties in Mexico City celebrating their appreciation for ritmos periféricos – peripheral rhythms – which alludes to the collective’s multitude of influences. The label’s latest compilation, Pirata 3, freely up for grabs online, is a solid poster of their mindset. Yet, on the background of each track resides a Latin whiff of the crew’s cultural roots. Like when Fausto Bahía, up next on the decks, put on Skepta’s ‘That’s Not Me’ under a hectic tribalistic spell. Or when Mexican Jihad, the final performer, span samples of Puerto Rican reggeattón influenced by Atlanta’s trap beats. N.A.A.F.I.’s catalogue of experiments is vast and hardly fits any enclosing definition on what they create. It’s electrifying, unapologetic and riotous music mixing global references and exuding a Latin temper. Besides partying hard, the collective surely exhibit a one-of-a-kind manifest.
The evening of stinging electronic grooves had yet NON Records founder and producer NKISI as a headliner. Staging an experimental set fusing a diversity of worldwide rhythms, the Congolese-born-Belgium-raised artist sharply bridged the underlying rebellious spirit of the show. After-all, it was a celebration of global sounds channelled by artists with distinctive, although vibrant, styles. The venue, embracing the atmosphere, enthusiastically reacted with maddening dance steps and loud ‘whoos’. And as the show called it a night, the enduring sense was that N.A.A.F.I.’s passing through Clock Strikes 13 revealed growing possibilities for the label in the UK.