Tijuana Cartel
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Tijuana Cartel

Byron Bay, Australia | Established. Jan 01, 2005 | INDIE

Byron Bay, Australia | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2005
Band Electronic Psychedelic


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"BEAT Magazine"

Walking down the narrow staircase and into the open room, an electric piano and drum kit was set up for the night’s opening act Billy Fox. As Fox jumped into his first song, his vocal stylings were immediately reminiscent of Chet Faker. As live drum arrangements mixed with pre-recorded beats, synth parts combined with electric guitar, bringing reminders of Groove Armada. The occasional bass drops were quite hectic, sounding like the outcome of spending months in a forest indulging in illicit substances and Hunter S. Thompson novels.

Caravana Sun were up next, opening with their latest single Ashes, a taste of what’s set to be a brilliant second record due later in the year. Slotting in between Madness and Reel Big Fish, their set was packed full of Friday night party jams, the perfect preface for Tijuana Cartel’s headline set. Having toured throughout Europe and played at the World Volleyball championships in Switzerland, if you haven’t seen Caravana Sun you must get on it.

Tijuana Cartel came out to rapturous applause and quickly set about transforming the full dancefloor into an underground rave. It was surprising to see how quickly the venue filled up, but Tijuana Cartel definitely know how to deliver a killer live show. At previous TC gigs, the songs have felt a little too drawn out. However, inside Max Watt’s, it was a perfect sweaty dancefloor affair. Letting It Go off their 2011 release M1 was the highlight of the set, featuring hectic bass drops, which led all hell to break loose on the dancefloor.

Thank you Tijuana Cartel for allowing me to unleash my questionable dance moves in such an iconic Melbourne music venue.

Photo by David Harris

Liked: Psychedelicatessen in the live format. Definite contender for album of the year.
Hated: The bartender mixing lemon and lime in my Coronas, it’s one or the other.
Drank: Corona. - Tex Miller


★★★★☆ Tijuana Cartel are one impressive musical outfit. Combining delicate mariachi guitar with electronic details – think Jose Gonzalez with The Chemical Brothers’ electro beats – it’s a fresh, innovative genre fusion. Having wowed audiences all over the world, they’re back with the new album Psychedelicatessen. In an age where there’s so much music to consume, it’s easy to be numbed by the endless glut of radio singles and half-baked albums. However, on Psychedelicatessen, this is not possible. With diverse instrumentation and intriguing sounds throughout, you become fully immersed in this record after a few listens. ‘Endlessly’ draws you in with massive synth drops and flamenco guitar, plus a nice bit of distortion in the background. The multiplex elements create something interesting enough to prevent it getting stale during its three-and-a-half-minute duration. ‘Music Parasol’ is one of many tracks to feature a trance-like disco beat, which is certain to get you dancing around your lounge room. With each new album, one of Tijuana Cartel’s main philosophies is to completely reinvigorate their sound. On this record, they’ve created another unique stack of worldly tunes, which are set to captivate your next dinner party or dancefloor session. Tijuana Cartel's Psychedelicatessen is out now through MGM. - See more at: http://www.thebrag.com/music/tijuana-cartel-psychedelicatessen#sthash.8LGQMyBZ.dpuf -

"Sydney Morning Herald - SMH"

In the 1970s "gonzo" journalism wasn't just being written overseas by the likes of its most famous exponent, US author Hunter S. Thompson.
This surrealistic, first-person narrative writing style also made a big impression on then-Sydney-based radio jock and writer, Russell Guy, whose gonzo short story, What's Rangoon to You Is Grafton to Me, was adapted as a tripped-out, cult classic radio play on 2JJ in 1978.

A slice of vintage Australiana psycho-babble, it documented a fictional, mind-expanding road trip from Brisbane to Sydney. In the years since, the broadcast would be extensively bootlegged and shared among friends on faded and stretched cassette tapes and on the internet.
For years, it had been a favourite of Tijuana Cartel guitarist/singer Paul George, who always wanted to incorporate it into the band's music.
"It was a type of Australian writing that I don't think I've ever really heard before and it's so old and obscure," George says.. "I really loved gonzo journalism, like Fear and Loathing [in Las Vegas], so it reminded me of that, but it had an Australian edge and a real Australian humour to it. I didn't really know much Australian counter-culture writing, but it just seemed really attractive and cool."
For four years, George and Tijuana Cartel partner Carey O'Sullivan worked sporadically on the "Rangoon album", which sampled extracts and used the vintage radio play as their primary source of inspiration. They would continue to work on other Tijuana Cartel albums, like last year's 24-Bit Guitar Orchestra, as well as their own side projects, while building the band's fearsome live reputation on tour.
"It's been a long process, this one. We even gave it up for a while because it just seemed to be taking too long. Eventually we thought it would be a cooler idea to do the whole thing as a concept album, an on-the-road album about travelling."
In making the album, eventually entitled Psychedelicatessen (their fifth in eight years), the duo enlisted the help of the Rangoon legend himself, Russell Guy. Initially approaching him for permission to use samples from the broadcast, Guy ultimately provided added input to help them realise the concept.
"I was a little bit worried that he might not like what we'd done on the album," George says. "By the time we contacted him, we'd used so much of Rangoon and I didn't want to change it. Originally we had a lot more samples of it throughout the album, but he really wanted to help us choose little bits."

Byron Bay-based George was inspired to write lyrics about travelling in a more existential frame of mind, while Gold Coast-based O'Sullivan created beats and soundscapes which evoked landscapes, psychedelia and the open road. Their music is usually primarily instrumental, but it was only when they finished Psychedelicatessen that they realised there were vocals throughout.
"All of our albums so far have been fixated with the Middle East or India, so it was just really nice to do something that had more of an Australian influence to it," says George.
A quick reference of their upcoming tour itinerary reveals Tijuana Cartel will travel from Caloundra to Sydney for one particular section of it. What would they need to recreate Guy's Brisbane-to-Sydney Rangoon road trip?
"Ha, I didn't think of that!" George says with a laugh. "We'd need a psychedelic frame of mind, as well as a copy of Rangoon and a very sideways philosophy!"
Psychedelicatessen is out now - Andrew Drever

"The AU Review"

Having recently announced going "gonzo" with their new album ‘Psychedelicatessen, and on top of that, a national album tour, Tijuana Cartel have certainly been busy. This week, Paul George took the time to tell the AU about the new album, inspirations, and how the band define "gonzo"... Click through for the full interview.
Back in 1978, one radio broadcast “What's Rangoon to you is Grafton to me?” obviously had a significant impact on you, can you describe the moment when you first heard it?
I was in a car on the way to Noosa and someone in the car at the time played it on the stereo. I heard trippy Gonzo rant starting in Brisbane and ending its way in Sydney, I hadn't heard Australian writing like it anywhere and it instantly resonated with some kind of sideways psychological neuro-pathway I already had.
The piece was clearly extremely descriptive, so when you listened to it did your mind become consumed with images that then transformed into lyrics?
Yep, we had already started writing the album and much of the lyrics involved adventures of touring and travel. Our story starts in London, Russell's story starts in Brisbane. Somewhere in-between all this we started melding the two adventures together. Two paths of weirdness.
“What's Rangoon to you is Grafton to me?” is now described as a cult classic, would you have guessed it would achieve such status?
Yes, I think it resonated in enough ways to to capture a subculture of Australia. There's not enough of it from that era in Australia, so when it comes along I think we cherish it. It's quirky, poignant a has some very Australian humor throughout.
The conception for your new album “Pyschedelicatessen”, inspired by the play written by Russell Guy, has been released this month. When was the deciding moment for you to finally produce this album after years of being fascinated by it?
We started producing it back in 2011. Though somewhere along the line it all became a little too daunting to finish. We actually gave up on it for a year or so and moved on. It kept itself moving in the back of our minds though. It was only at the beginning of this year that we listened to what we had and realized we could bring it home.
How did Russell Guy react to the album?
He loves it, it took a bit of working through the samples with him to get to a point we were both satisfied with. Russell had a clear vision of how his radio play would meld into our album. I sent him a copy last week, he ended up coming to one of our shows and is thrilled by the outcome, that was cool.
Was he impressed with your homage to his work?
Yeah, I think so, it wasn't easy to get it right. In Russell's words, "we've created something that works a head of the gobble up machine and helps us out to navigate through the matrix of modernity.
The word 'gonzo' is getting a lot of mention, how do you personally define it?
Basically gonzo is a style of Journalism that puts the journalist firmly in the story. Though It's also defined by a certain style of writing, generally drug infused, or at least Psychedelic and literary at the same time. Best bet is to read anything by Hunter S Thompson if you find this explanation a little vague.
How does this album compare to your past ones?
It's more 'Australian' Than anything we've done before, we drew on a lot of teenage influences. Things we heard in High-school, or on JJJ. It's also way more vocal than anything we've ever done before.
Years in the making has finally lead to national album tour, how does it feel to finally translate the Gonzo ideology out to your fans?
Great, cathartic, scary, daunting, mad and ridiculous all at the same time.
You’re touring for the remainder of this month and through October, how do you think your fans will respond to such a unique concept?
Our fans are pretty used to us doing something off the beaten track, for all the crazy things we've tried, we really owe it to our fans for going on the ride with us. We want to keep pushing as far and wide as we can. We don't want to get stuck in one genre or way of thinking.
Will this be the first of many text inspired albums?
I think the idea of having a concept album worked well for us. I think it's something we'll keep working with for the future. It's a good way to give us license to go in any direction that seems exciting. - Helen Scheurer

"Blank Gold Coast"

Carey O’Sullivan and Paul George met at high school on the Gold Coast and they’ve been in and out of eachother’s lives ever since. They shared their first ever job, at just 14, working in a retirement village – washing dishes and “picking up old ladies who fell off their mopeds,” they tell me. They’ve worked on termite eradication together, “digging trenches around houses and filling them with chemicals,” and they landed jobs, separately at the same music / tech store while living in London.

“I haven’t had a real job since 1998,” Paul tells me though. The last one being in a metal foundry.

“We’ve kind of been thrown into music.”

Tijuana Cartel are a bit of a Gold Coast institution. Always hard to pin down, a little elusive when it comes to media. They tell me some of the early criticism they received was around their lack of direction.

“But now, I’m thinking that could be a strength,” Paul says. “People used to say that they weren’t really sure who Tijuana Cartel are. Now it’s at the point where that is what we’re known for – that people don’t really know what we’re going to do next.”

That organic evolution of sounds and influences becomes pretty obvious the more we chat and the more I think about their music. From my own experience watching Tijuana Cartel play live (oh, we miss you Swingin’ Safari), their early days held a strong Moroccan-Mediterranean flavor.

“We always had that middle eastern sound,” they say. “But that’s progressed a little bit. These days we just kind of go in any direction and just go with it. The new album has a bit of that aesthetic, but it probably has more of an Australian influence.”

The album they’re referring to is Psychedelicatessen. Released just a few days before we speak. In fact, while we’re chatting the first review comes in (four out of five stars from Beat Magazine, for those curious).

The album is heavily influenced by What’s Rangoon to you is Grafton to me, a written piece adapted for radio which has become a cult classic. It’s a gonzo-style piece on the good ‘ol Aussie road trip down the east coast of Australia.

“It’s 40 years old,” Paul says. “A friend of ours played it while we were driving to the Sunshine Coast a few years back and we started sampling and using tracks. Eventually we used so many tracks we thought we’d base our album around that, so their story would be running through it and our narrative would match that.”

Russell Guy originally wrote Rangoon in 1978 for surfing magazine Tracks. The former host of Double J breakfast (1976-77) is now a journalist in Alice Springs, and that’s where Paul and Carey tracked him down.

“We had to find him,” Paul said. “He lives in the desert in Alice Springs – just an old tripper. He wrote back to us. He made the trip from Alice to our studio and we worked with him for a few days.”

The first song off the record, Lost My Head quite obviously has its roots in desert psychedlia. That’s what it sounds like. And when I see the video, that’s what it looks like. I ask Tijuana Cartel if it was filmed in the desert. And is that a Joshua Tree?

“That’s exactly where we filmed it. In Joshua Tree. We went to LA and Carey got interested in film while we were over there and we thought it would be an iconic place to shoot,” Paul tells me.

“It pretty much just seemed like a cool thing to do while we were over there,” Carey adds. “We were told it was a great setting, headed out there, made some crazy reflectors, some DIY props and then spent a couple of days out there.”

Of course I asked whether they considered peyote, I mean, they’re in California, they’re filming a psychedelic video clip… but they laugh and say “we thought about it…”

They mention the film making process several times during our chat and I’m curious as to whether they enjoy it as much, or perhaps more than the music making process.

“It’s a similar process actually,” Paul says. “In some ways they’re both kind of laborious, but it’s good to come up with a concept and run with it.”

“We’ve been busy in the studio at my place,” Carey adds. “We’ve both kind of got makeshift studios at home, but mine has a green screen, so mine is better.” He tells me they’re already working on their next video release, “doing crazy stuff filming ourselves in 3D and crazy places and making spaceships out of tinfoil and stuff…”

Tijuana Cartel are headlining the BIGSOUND Live showcase at The Brightside outdoor stage tonight and then they’re off on tour – Tasmania, Melbourne, back to Brisbane and then “everywhere in Australia,” but they ran out of weekends to include the Gold Coast.

Don’t worry though, they promise they’ll be bringing the new album to their loyal home crowd soon.

“We’ll come back and do the Gold Coast. If not before the end of the year, probably in January,” they say. - Samantha Morris

"The Music"

One March night in 2011, Brent Clough dug out a radio play from the Double Jay archive that had first been broadcast in 1978. Tijuana Cartel singer and guitarist Paul George just happened to be listening and four years on comes the album it inspired. Michael Smith investigates.

"I was in a car going up to the Sunshine Coast and someone played it," Paul George, one half of the songwriting team at the core of Gold Coast band Tijuana Cartel, explains of the genesis of their new album, Psychedelicatessan. What was being played was a surreal piece of Double J radio history, a gonzo radio play called What's Rangoon To You Is Grafton To Me, written and spoken by Russell Guy with veteran ABC TV newsreader, the late James Dibble.

"I hadn't heard it before and just thought it was great. I hadn't heard Australian writing like that anywhere before. So originally I thought I'd use it for one song and sample it a little bit, but then probably a year later I'd started using it between or on about three or four songs. So at some point it was, like, well, rather than just using little bits, maybe we can do an album that's kind of based with Rangoon. A lot of the lyrics are about travelling or stuff that happens on the road, so we thought that there was a parallel in there somewhere.

It's definitely not the same narrative but I think they work parallel to each other, hopefully complementing each other."

"At some point, I had to write to Russell to get permission, but he liked the idea that much that he ended up coming into the studio for a few days. So we tried to work on samples that we felt would work with our narrative and his narrative. It's definitely not the same narrative but I think they work parallel to each other, hopefully complementing each other."

For those who haven't heard What's Rangoon To You Is Grafton To Me, it's a little like The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy meets Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas without the sex, violence and massive ingestion of drugs. Meanwhile, there are moments on the album where George seems to channel his inner George Harrison, whether vocally or in the occasional slide guitar sweep, The Beatles yet another influential musical tributary. "That's a good compliment," he chuckles. Psychedelicatessan is pretty vocal-heavy for a Tijuana Cartel album.

"It just kind of happened that way. The last album we did [2011's M1] was pretty much all instrumental, so I think maybe we just wanted a break from that. But we finished probably about 30 songs and picked our favourites out of those to finish, and they just all had vocals in them. We literally started [Psychedelicatessan] back in 2011 and at one point we actually gave up on it 'cause we'd kind of done so much stuff that it got a bit daunting. Eventually, probably the start of this year we sat down and started trimming it down from what was and wasn't working and picked which ones we thought would suit the narrative of Russell's stuff but also that were good songs." - Michael Smith


Album - Psychedelicatessen
Released September 4, 2015
1. Leaving England
2. Endlessly
3. Lost My Head
4. Fall
5. Music Parasol
6. Sweeping the Stars
7. Taste For Life
8. Spend Ya Money
9. Black Magic Superstar
10. Offer Yourself
11. What Was Inside
12. Kelly's Existential Dilemma
13. Sedative Heart

Album - 24 Bit Guitar Orchestra
Released August 11, 2014
1. Enkidu
2. Ninhursag
3. Hectic
4. kookaburra
5. Ziusudra
6. Marduk
7. Space Station
8. Gilamesh
9. 24 Bit Guitar Orchestra
10. Still Fighting

Album - M1
Released January 7, 2014
1. White Dove
2. Tempest
3. Run Away
4. For The People
5. So Many Nights
6. Anxious Sin
7. Letting It Go
8. Take A Trip
9. Mr Joshua Sinclair
10. Never Grown Old
11. Verbal Masturbation
12. Need To Be
13. Keep Off The Chemicals



As the corner stone of Australia’s ‘east
meets west’ electronic scene, Tijuana Cartel have a knack for blending layers
of rich, intricate atmospheric soundscapes with laid back rhythms and luscious
vocals to form an electronic beats tapestry that will cut through to your very

there isn’t another band doing what they do. Having spent the last decade
mixing in influences that haven’t been fused in the past, their penchant is for
Middle Eastern scales, beats that get a floor moving and a general Psychedelic
approach in song structure and ethos. Not married to one genre or another, they
happily change direction in search of new flavors and inspiration, whenever the
moment takes them there.

 Bound together by
their mutual love of instrumental, Trippy and mind-expanding music, Paul George
and Carey O’Sullivan are a truly formidable force.  With shared early memories of hearing tubular
bells and falling for the musical escapism they created, they have emerged as
one of the country’s most exciting acts and it would appear that their legion
of fans whole heartedly approve.

On stage is where
Tijuana Cartel’s collective musical spirit is really given the chance to run wild.  Joined by Yoav Mashiach on Percussion and occasionally
Joshua Sinclair on Trumpet, they extensively tour Australia stopping off at all
of the major cities regularly, as well as small towns and the most loved
festivals including Peats Ridge, Rainbow Serpent, Wave Rock, Splendour In The Grass,
Byron Bay Blues and roots, Falls, Shine On, Good Vibrations, Surry Hills
Festival and Lane Way amongst others. They also tour across Europe and USA when
the stars align.

 “We mix a lot of
styles into our music. We’ve spent a lot of time honing the sounds into a set
that transitions smoothly and seamlessly. We used to be fairly random and
simply jammed, but as the years passed we found it more interesting to create a
kind of musical movement for the shows.”

 Media attention has always followed Paul and
Carey, with Tijuana Cartel in particularly proving to be the right kind of
magic for the likes of Triple J, The West Australian, Sydney Morning Herald, Scene,
beat and reverb, recognizing the lads for the music aperture they fill in our
local scene.

Band Members