Mexico City’s hopeless romantic : Magma Smegma
WORDS BY : LIZ RAISS | INTERVIEW AND PHOTOS BY : ALEJANDRA SABILLÒN
Natalia Villaseñor began Magma Smegma with an ex boyfriend: when the two split, she soldiered on, building a following in her hometown of Mexico City and globally. The Bandcamp bio for Magma Smegma winks at its amorous origins: “I’m from Mexico City and I’m eternally heartbroken,” and Natalia jokes about it in our interview, “I don’t believe in love anymore,” she laughs, “Just kidding, I believe in love.” Natalia’s ad hoc approach to her music is admirable considering how many fans she’s amassed, she talks loosely about an upcoming EP, unconfirmed travel plans, forthcoming videos. But Natalia’s easy affect belie a passionate and complex relationship to her music, resulting in the kind of deft, glitchy techno we itch to get our hands on. Here, she talk to us from Mexico City.
Where are you right now?
I’m in Mexico City, in Angelica’s room.
So I wanted to talk to you about your music project Magma Smegma, when did you start making music?
Not that long ago, around December of last year. My ex was making music and I wanted to have more in common with him, but he still broke up with me and I’m still doing this [laughs].
Well I have to tell you, I was really inspired watching you develop it. You basically broadcast yourself working on it. Did you have a desire to perform or did you see it as a bedroom project?
I saw it as a bedroom thing at first because I can’t really sing and I’m pretty shy, but after I played my first show I realized that the performance aspect is pretty important to me too. Now I really like dressing up and performing but there’s still a lot I’d like to add to the live shows.
It seems like Magma Smegma is almost an alter ego for you. Before working on this had you performed before?
Not really, I did backing vocals for my friend’s band once like 6 years ago, but it was nothing like Magma Smegma. I just stood there awkwardly [laughs] but yeah, it definitely is like an alter ego.
What has inspired you musically and visually? Are there any early music memories that stand out to you?
Elves, fairies and magical creatures that look like they’re on a mission inspire me visually. Anime obviously, I owe everything I am to anime. I’m also very inspired by Plantasia and anything that resembles the sounds in Plantasia.
When I was a kid and listened to Time To Pretend by MGMT for the first time I was like wow, I’m 100% part of the demographic this was made for. Like it spoke to me so much [laughs] and I remember thinking that I could never sound like that with my piano lessons. I still don’t and never will, but besides the sound, I loved that the lyrics were very funny and I guess that’s something I’m going for. I want everything I make to be funny.
Were you born and raised in Mexico City? What is your family like?
Si, born and raised. My family lives in the south of Mexico City in Pedregal, I hate it there. It’s all houses and everyone that lives there is uptight and catholic, like my family, but I’ve forced my parents to be less uptight and conservative. They’ve come a long way actually. I have a good relationship with them now but we hated each other when I was younger.
I have two brothers, Alex and Mateo. Mateo is 12 and he’s super cool and way better at piano than me. Alex is 22 and he’s going to be a lawyer or something. We were all born the 16th but in different months, they’re my favorite people.
Did you come to the U.S. with your family a lot growing up or was that more something you did later on your own? Have you lived anywhere other than New York? I’m curious how America has influenced you. I’ve been in the states forever and I’m in NYC but I still weirdly feel like an outsider.
I went to the U.S. with my family pretty often as a kid. I would say America has influenced me a lot, but more because of the fact that I’m Mexican and the U.S. has a huge influence on Mexico and it’s pop culture. I feel like an outsider for sure, even in New York but I was only there for like 3 years. I haven’t lived anywhere else in the U.S.
You mentioned that you started working on music as sort of means to feel more connected with your ex-boyfriend, what are your thoughts on love now?
Yes but I also wasn’t doing much with my life at the time. We lived together so starting to do what he was doing, just seemed easy. Before that, I was painting but I ran out of stuff to paint with. I don’t believe in love anymore… just kidding, I believe in love. It’s fun and the best thing but it’s also really sad.
Is there a message you want to get across with Magma Smegma? How do you see the project evolving?
I’m not sure if there’s a message yet and I’m not sure of how it’s going to evolve either. I want to put out an EP soonish, and I guess I would like to make an album, but before need to figure out how to get a lot of things to sound the way I want to sound. I will keep performing while I figure that out. I have a show in LA next week. I also really want to make videos, I made an upcoming one at a medieval fest with my friend Samantha.