Untitled 909 Podcast 181: Santa Muerte

Describing a mix as a form of storytelling may be something we hear a lot of it but in this case, Mexican producer Santa Muerte really dives into that novel narrative for podcast 181. A mix with many chapters, Santa Muerte opens with a sense of melancholy before this is disrupted with an abrasive, conflicted energy. It’s a mix filled with little easter eggs, you just have to listen out for them!

In Mexico, Santa Muerte is the shortened name for a new religious movement and folk saint associated with healing, protection and safe delivery to the afterlife by her devotees. These themes of religion and mythology are closely linked with Panch Briones’ work, creating music as Santa Muerte. The Hyperdub affiliate is drawn to these ideas from a sense of curiosity as well as his time spent living and attending a school in a convent. Born in Mexico and raised in the Sierra, Santa Muerte now lives in Houston, Texas – a city with a vibrant hip hop scene that has influenced Santa Muerte’s bass heavy sound.

Releasing his debut EP in 2016, Santa Muerte has gone on to contribute to labels such as Infinite Machine and Hyperdub as well as remix Kelela on Warp Records. There’s an exciting album in the works too with more information to be revealed soon!

In our accompanying interview we chat to Santa Muerte about his first musical obsessions, his relationship with religion and mythology, the scene in Houston and find out more about the voice notes that are weaved in the mix.



Hey Panch! Let’s start from the very beginning, what was your first introduction to music in general and then more specifically electronic music? 

Growing up in a rural area in mexico with a heavy influence of mexican regional music from the north and pacific pacific coast, Electronic music was really foreign and non-existent. Once I moved to Texas, music was my window to exploring new sounds and genres. This lead me to Houston rap culture, my gateway to electronic music.


Who was the first artist or band that you were a fan of?

The First artist who I fell head over heels for is Arthur Russell. His music and life really inspires my creative process. Arthur to me is one of the greatest artist in modern times. The compositions and arrangements are unique as well as his writing. Going from Pop to experimental, he saw no genres or boundaries to his art. Arthur’s life also tells the  story of many of us artist, full of hills and valleys. Hearing Phillip Glass and Allen Ginsberg speak on his dance project gave me chills. The massive archive catalog he left behind is so beautiful and important.

I am also currently emotionally invested in the rise and evolution of YEAT. Hot Take: YEAT delivered the album Kanye wished Vultures should have been.


Was there a formative moment growing up, whether that’s seeing your favorite band live or an incredible dj set, that led you to this path? 

I was very fortunate early in my career to have shared a stage with Nguzunguzu, Bobbybeethoven (Total Freedom) and Venus X. it gave me perspective on how to perform a set, production style but most importantly how important it is to give yourself to your medium. All of the above mentioned have such taste and richness in their music and performances that it inspired me to connect in a similar way with my audience. Every chance I get I thank them for that moment we shared because it changed my life.


What is the scene like in Houston at the moment? Any local collectives, artists, promoters etc you’d like to shout out?

Houston being the melting pot of culture and music, we have an exciting wave of artist that are not conforming to the norms. Artist like Hyperfemme, JJoshallen, NSRRW and Pithe are exciting to me. All are different but with great creative energy and driven. They are also really nice people who you just want to see win. Houston is also home to great labels like Halcyon Veil, Majia and Industrial Beach. Houston is going through this metamorphosis and i love it.


There’s a historical method to your productions as you source inspiration from mythology and religion – where does that interest come from? Why did you choose music as your output to explore these themes? 

Due to some crazy circumstances, I end up living and attending school in a convent. 5 years I lived with nuns, so my day to day life was exactly like their day to day. Curiosity always drove me to learn deeper aspects of catholicism, the different rituals, literature and symbolisms. Not being able to leave the convent to the outside world led me to research different aspects of Catholicism. Learning how religion was used as a tool for colonialism by incorporating indigenous symbols and traditions. Learning more about the meaning of each ritual and how they are performed. When I began the SM project, it became natural to align these beliefs with my medium. Every release and track has a piece of my childhood, a piece of those nuns who took care of me and nurtured me. I honor them this way


Where do you look for sources of inspiration outside of music?

I’ve been spending time with my plants and garden. Its been a great sense of inspiration and peace. Ive spent much time listening to mixes and new music while out in the garden with my son. Also introducing new music to my son has been a great source of inspiration. Showing him music a typical 5 year wouldn’t listen.


You’ve also contributed a mix for the 909 series, what’s the concept behind this one? 

Ive been really wanting to present a mix that is more theatrical and tells a story. Ive always created a mix by having “Acts”. This one I wanted it to have a story of when an artist looses and its captured to be reproduced over and over.


Could you talk us through some of the sound bites that you’ve included in the mix and the story you’ve created by using them? 

They are soundbites of some of my favorite artist. Pimp C on one of his last interviews before he passed away. Telling artist to stop portraying a Gaster Rap. Mariah Carey calling in to her Fan Club Voicemail to tell them about her day finilizing her album, but days later she suffers a mental breakdown that impacted her career. Arca on a IG live reading and going in all while it plays over a Unreleased Arca remix of Rabit. Also my son makes a bit of a cameo lol


What is your approach to club mixes versus approaching mixes for an online platform or radio show? 

I love creating both, I just love to make mixes like i produce my records. They are very personal and they truly give me joy. Club mixes do give you the opportunity to create a strong moment while with others. They both serve a beautiful purpose.


What are you looking forward to the most in 2024?

Im excited to visit Europe during the summer, its been a while since Ive been. Im working on al album thats very interesting and has very interesting collaborators. Parenting also gives me the most to look for while starting to teach my son and nephew music and Djn.