Paul and Carlos could be Mexico’s most bizarre synthpop duo. Their latest music video feels dated with ’80s graphic effects and features the two dancing awkwardly in retro ski jackets and surfing in outer space on giant piano keyboards.
It’s not exactly what you’d expect from Mennonites. And that’s a big part of their appeal.
The two young rockers are bucking stereotypes for a conservative religious and ethnic group that came from Europe and settled in rural Mexico sometime in the early 1900s. In Mexico, Mennonites are known for living in isolated communities and selling fresh farm-made cheese, not jamming to space-age electric rock videos. And that’s what makes them hipster cool—like Mexico’s answer to Flight of the Conchords.
“We started playing just for fun. We were more acoustic at first and shooting for a folk sound. We tried the accordion, the mandolin, the ukulele and the trumpet,” Carlos, 24, told me in a phone interview. “I don’t know how our transition to electronic exactly happened. As a kid I rarely listened to music, and the little I listened to was mostly religious hymns or stuff like that.”
“I really don’t know what music genre we belong to,” he adds. “Our first EP is more trip-hop and our second record is more beats, hip-hop and electric guitar and then we have this new song, which is more ’80s.”
Most Mexicans know Mennonites as the curious white people who forbid technology, speak in a German dialect, and rarely come in contact with outsiders. Paul and Carlos are odd in a different way, but say their community is way more complex than people give them credit for.