Cirque du Soleil’s latest touring production, Luzia, opens April 21 in Montreal, coinciding with the release of an album of studio versions of 10 songs that are performed live during the show. It’s the first time that Cirque has debuted a show and a soundtrack recording simultaneously.
The album, which can be previewed now on Soundcloud, reflects “Mexico’s real sound,” according to Cirque musical director Alain Vinet.
He notes that the album tracks have more “Latin pop potential” than the acoustic songs played live in the big top. That’s thanks to Bostich + Fussible of Tijuana’s dance pioneers Nortec Collective, the popular Latin alternative artists who Vinet and show composer Simon Carpentier called into the studio to rework the songs and shape the album’s electronically enhanced sound.
Bostich + Fussible (real names: Ramón Amezcua and Pepe Mogt) will play the afterparty of Luzia’s official premiere on May 4. After the Cirque show’s run in Montreal ends on July 17, it will go to Toronto, and it’s set for a U.S. premiere in San Francisco later this year.
Cirque’s Carpentier and Vinet took a break from rehearsals of Luzia on a recent afternoon to talk to Billboard about the show’s Mexican inspiration, and finding the album’s groove with Bostich + Fussible.
Luzia is a show that, in Cirque parlance, “will transport you to an imaginary Mexico.” Why Mexico?
Simon Carpentier: Cirque du Soleil produced a show called Joyá in Mexico, and it was very well received. And because of that they had the idea to go for a bigger show; a different show, that could go on tour. That one stays in Mexico. This one will travel all around the world.
Alain Vinet: Ovo, a big top touring show which premiered in 2009, was based on Brazilian music. Musically, it goes through many different styles: it’s a journey through the story of the music of Brazil. So in this case, it’s a little like Ovo but with Mexican culture.
How did you approach that challenge of representing Mexico musically in the show?
Carpentier: The first big challenge was to make sure that we can translate this amazing culture. At the beginning of this process we decided to hire only Mexican musicians for the show, to make sure that we have these performers to give that feeling of authenticity. It’s a huge culture — you’re talking about the Aztecs, the Mayans, the cumbia, all the Latin American music, the influence from Cuba, from everywhere. I wanted to go further, not just scratch the surface and stay there.
We needed to find a way to achieve the sound, the romance, the fun, the special humor that Mexican people have. You feel the spirit of Mexico throughout the show, but it’s not like you just hear a mariachi; that’s not what Cirque does. It’s all about peaks and valleys, and surprises. We experience that through visuals, but through music as well.
What led you to have Bostich + Fussible collaborate as producers on the album?
Carpentier: Another thing we said was, ‘why don’t we find some producers that we like who are in Mexico?’ People who really live their culture from the country, because we are Canadian, we are from Quebec.
I had been to Mexico a few times, and from the research that I did, Alain and I agreed that Nortec Collective carried the real sound, very current and also forward-thinking. They play electro underground music, they have this spirit and sound in the groove, and in the instruments. [Their music] is modern, it’s surprising, it’s unusual, and all of the colors from the sound of Mexico are there.
Vinet: Normally, the albums come out six months down the road, or a year down the road [after the show opens], because when we are in creation, the musicians are really, really busy; it’s impossible for us to take them out of the creation. But the mandate was for us to have the CD for the opening of the show. The only way we could achieve this was to outsource the production of the CD, and that is why we went with Nortec. They have a key component — excellent Mexican musicians. They know everyone in Mexico as far as musicians are concerned.
How does the music on the album differ from what is heard in the big top?
Carpentier: The music on the CD is quite different from the music on the show, but it’s the same composition, all of the melodies are there. Some rhythm is different, because Nortec is more dance oriented. In the show it is more lyrical and acoustic, and we have to follow what is happening in the show. In the beginning, I wrote melodies inspired by moments of the show.
Vinet: For the album, we decided to concentrate on 10 themes from the show that were really developed. The songs on the album are different from the show in that the album has more pop potential — more Latin pop potential.
First, we needed to have two songs produced for marketing purposes. The guys from Nortec were producing the first two singles, and it went so beautifully that we decided to do the whole album with them.
The Billboard Latin Music Conference takes place April 25-28. To register please visit www.billboardevents.com/latin