After moving from Mexico to Winnipeg in 2004, guitarist and artist Jorge Requena discovered the city's vibrant and thriving Latin American community. By 2009, he was inspired to begin a Day of the Dead-themed graphic novel for Mexico's important national holiday that honours life. This became the blueprint for the group The Mariachi Ghost.
Travelling with seven musicians, one dancer and a make-up artist/manager, The Mariachi Ghost celebrates "the supernatural and the magical of old Mexico, where our story exists," says Requena. "Like many other artists of Latin America, we practice a revivalism of our old symbols. We wear mariachi suits, have sugar-skull makeup and we play prog rock. We celebrate our heritage and bring it into the future."
The culture of Mexico is "a complicated post-colonial cosmogony with a mix of pre-Hispanic religions and Catholicism," he explains. This plays a large role in the band's performance: "In old Mexico, there is such a beautiful collection of traditions, mixed with colonial beliefs, that created a new modern ideal of death. Death is a part of life. There is beauty in accepting that, also, death is a reason to celebrate life.
"The characters in our story onstage all relate to the place between the world of the living and the dead," he says. Eight performers find harmony. "With a high-energy level, we give a concert, a theatre play and a seance all in one," Requena says. "We promise you've never seen anything like it."