Abdiel Hernández López is a musician who, despite not having a formal education in music, has achieved what many graduates have not been able to: release an album that will leave its mark on Mexican power metal.
Even though he knew that he did not have high-end instruments, that did not prevent him from creating what is undoubtedly one of the most interesting releases that Mexican capital scene has given so far this year.
MICTLÁN (2022) is an album made up of eight songs in Spanish that deal with mythological themes from ancient Mexico. Everything was written, composed, mixed and mastered by Abdiel Hernández in a home studio that he modified to set up together with his brother.
The work surprises for how well it has been achieved both at the level of composition, lyrics and production. It is one more jewel that joins the enormous sea of works that are born out of love for the genre.
We contacted Abdiel so he could talk to us about how he prepared himself to make this work and how, despite not having set foot in a music school, he managed to play various instruments. Here is what he told us.
Cristóbal Torres: Could you tell us a little about yourself, how did you learn to play various instruments and how did you manage to record MICTLÁN at home?
Abdiel Hernández López (AHL): From a very young age I was drawn to music, my first favorite band was KISS, at the age of 5, and I learned to play the drums at that age in a self-taught way inspired by that band.
I always wanted to get into music schools, but it never happened. With their effort, my parents bought me my low-end instruments and with that I was happy.
Each sound was an obsession: drums, guitar and violin called me at some stage of my life. What I never imagined was singing.
My brother is a follower of hip hop culture and he decided to set up a home studio to record his friends; but he abandoned it, he left the equipment at my disposal, so I started uploading videos to Youtube in 2014.
I was learning to produce, sing and take advantage of the family business of video filming weddings, birthdays, etc., to record and edit my own videos.
I want to emphasize that everything can be done regardless of the quality of your tools, since all my equipment has always been austere or the cheapest on the market.
CT: When did you start writing the songs for this album?
AHL: MICTLÁN started during the COVID19 pandemic. I quit my godín job (in Mexico, that’s what someone who works in an office is called) and went back to record a video like the ones I made on YouTube, but it wasn’t enough.
Meanwhile, I kept looking for a job as a video and image editor, since it is what I specialized in my communication career and in the family work of filming taking photos of social events and business videos (which I still do and is what I currently dedicate myself, apart from music, because I am a professional photographer).
I was writing the songs, but I didn’t want to record them; he wanted money to buy better instruments and equipment.
But I wanted to hear what those songs might sound like and I recorded them with what I had on hand: a cheap Jackson guitar, a pedalboard borrowed from my friend Noel, a bass borrowed from another friend named Pepe and the equipment that my brother had at home to record.
CT: Did you only write the eight pieces we heard or do you have more material that didn’t make the album?
AHL: After finishing recording, and starting the process to release it, I kept a few little ideas, nothing complete.
CT: Why did it occur to you to make an album about themes from ancient Mexico?
AHL: Because there were many bands in the world that, without being from Nordic cultures or other cultures, their themes do not represent their countries and I think that Mexico has a lot of history, legends and characters that can be talked about at the level of the stories of other cultures that are heavily exploited in the genre.
Also, I don’t consider my project to be pre-Hispanic; the project is about Mexican history, in the future you will know what I am talking about.
CT: How did you document yourself to write the lyrics or where did you get your inspiration from?
AHL: When I was in elementary school, I was fascinated to hear about ancient history, legends and beliefs.
Many of the songs are themes that stayed with me forever: the story of the creation of Teotihuacan, the legend of Popocatépetl, the fall of Tenochtitlán, are things that I already had very clear.
Even so, I investigated articles and everywhere so as not to make a mistake and discovered other things that I did not know, such as the legend of Tzilacatzin.
On the other hand, “Tlasotlalistli” song is the only one that does not have a historical theme; the word means “love” and is dedicated to my girlfriend, Gaby.
CT: Why make an album on your own and not with a band?
AHL: I had two cover bands during high school, but it was very difficult to put ideas together, have rehearsal discipline and dedicate to your instrument.
At that time I played drums and they were good times, but they never became serious projects. So, for that reason, I decided to make music on my own because, with what I learned in my musical life, it was possible for me to do it.
CT: Could you describe to me what a day at work was like for you while making the album; how many hours a day did you dedicate to it and how long did it take you to finish everything?
AHL: I don’t have the exact account of how long it took, but it was about 7 months, more or less; in fact, when we started recording the last song, the computer broke down and we had to buy another one in payments for the family business and to finish the album.
The first thing I did was write the tablature, the score of the music and the melody of the voice; then write the drums and orchestral arrangements with MIDI; then record the guitar and bass to finish with the voice, from there the mixing and mastering process continued.
All these steps took me between one and two weeks. Due to the pandemic, it was easy to dedicate a lot of time to it, although I consider that I maintain a normal life between jobs, girlfriend, friends, family and all those things.
CT: What do you think was the most difficult part or the one that demanded the most from you when carrying out this project and where did you get the strength to not back down?
AHL: The voice. As I mentioned, I never thought of dedicating myself to singing. Before the album, on YouTube, I was already practicing a lot; I have never considered myself good, but I do have a knack for singing.
I have recorded my voice many times, sometimes I erased everything and my allergic rhinitis did not help me much. It was because of my voice that I came to think that this project was not a good idea.
CT: Did you also take care of the cover or did someone help you?
AHL: No, there I asked an old friend, David Barnez, to take care of the art, requiring his work as an illustrator. I gave him a sketch and he worked from it.
What I did were the animations: the posts and everything found on video and image networks. The professional photos I took were the same.
CT: Are you planning to release a physical version of the album? Have you knocked on the doors of any label that can help you?
AHL: Yes, with what I earn from streaming, selling t-shirts and other things, I will raise money to put together the records and distribute them.
Since I’m the one who takes care of everything, I still don’t have the resources to distribute the album. But yes I will because they are asking a lot.
CT: Do you plan to one day play these songs live with session musicians?
AHL: All this depends a lot on the success of the project, and of course I would love to.
CT: Now that you have released MICTLÁN, what are your next plans?
AHL: First I am going to promote MICTLÁN a lot, but of course, in my free time, I will write what follows.
CT: Thank you very much for your time and congratulations for this magnificent work. Any final words for the readers?
AHL: It’s a pleasure, I hope you continue to enjoy it and that it reaches more people. Spread it, you can support on Bandcamp; when I take out merchandise, ask for yours.
I want to continue promoting metal and an interest in history through music. If you want me to be in charge of that, support the project a lot. Follow me on my networks and I will always thank each listener with all my heart, you will be rewarded at Mictlan.