Baja’s next big thing?

One part punk, one part disco, Glass Spells concocts a dance band.
  • One part punk, one part disco, Glass Spells concocts a dance band.

Like most people who live in Calexico — the border town about 90 miles east of San Diego — Anthony Ramirez often heads south to the much larger Mexicali, on the other side of the border, for fun.

“There is nothing to do in Calexico,” Ramirez tells the Reader. “If you live here, you have to go to Mexicali. Something is always happening, Thursday through Saturday. It’s a party city. To me, Tijuana is the ghetto version of Las Vegas, and Mexicali is just a smaller TJ.”

Ramirez played in punk bands when he went to high school in Calexico. As he visited Mexicali over the years he encountered a scene immersed in techno music.

“The music scene is a lot bigger in San Diego,” Ramirez says. “Down here there are a lot of raves.”

So, Ramirez merged his love of playing fast, aggressive rock with the synth-driven electronic dance music that his neighbors love.

Ramirez, who plays bass and synthesizer, formed the band Glass Spells, which created its own “disco-punk” niche. “I wanted to do something similar but not a completely electronic thing.”

The two-man/two-woman band has a live drummer and does not rely on pre-recorded tracks. “We are considered electronic because of our synthesizer, but it is simply replacing the guitar with the melody and playing the leads.”

The buzz around Glass Spells has led to shows in Los Angeles and Mexico. This Saturday, they headline an afternoon food-and-music fest in Tijuana. On August 2 they played to a sold-out show at the Slide Bar in Fullerton and the week before were invited to play a Comic-Con theme party.

Should Glass Spells’ disco-punk continue to catch on, it would recall another genre-fusing movement that came from Baja California some 12 years ago, when Tijuana artists launched Nortec. Artists like Bostich+Fussible created dance music using samples of tubas, clarinets, and snare drums from Mexico’s norteño street bands.

But unlike Nortec, which was born in the studio, Glass Spells’ disco-punk is known for its live shows.

The understated Ramirez is not trying to create a blueprint for the Next Big Thing from Baja.

Past Event

Glass Spells, Glasmus, Jara the Band

  • Sunday, August 17, 2014, 8 p.m.
  • Casbah, 2501 Kettner Boulevard, San Diego
  • 21+

“I wanted to play dance music and do something different. If other bands follow, that’s okay. If something happens with it, that would be awesome.”

Glass Spells headlines the VCAF (Vegetarian Cuisine and Arts Fair) Saturday, a free-admission, all-ages, day-long event at the Zona del Rio food garden (FB/VC&AF).

“Some people say TJ is dangerous. I’ve never had a dangerous experience in TJ or Mexicali.”

Glass Spells will make its San Diego debut at the Casbah on August 17.

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