Indie folk band David Wax Museum finds inspiration in Mexico

David Wax Museum

David Wax Museum (Credit: David Wax Museum)

Though the band is Boston-bred, it is in the southerly Mexican state of Veracruz that the unusual sound of indie folk duo David Wax Museum was truly formed.

It was there that Harvard student David Wax immersed himself in the study of "son mexicano" music, learning the distinctive rhythms of the rural folk style alongside local masters, and combining them with his own songwriting.

Strongly influenced and inspired by Mexican traditions, but also tempered by the more down-home American roots practiced by Wax's bandmate Suz Slezak, the music of David Wax Museum is a free-trade agreement that builds on the tight harmonies and call-and-response heritage shared by folk ancestries the world over. The band is currently touring behind their new album "Knock Knock Get Up," released in September.

amNY spoke with Wax.

What has been the reaction to the new record? It's been great. It's a time of transition for us. The shows are becoming a little more like rock shows. There's still a folk heart at the core of what we're doing, but we're plugging into more amplifiers.

How would you describe your sound? We started the band in Boston [in 2007], and at the time, everybody was using this term "Americana" to describe whatever kind of acoustic music was happening. So in that scene, our music was described as "Mexo-Americana," and that's a fine term for us. I don't think there's any other band they could use that term for. Because it doesn't really mean anything in particular, I think that's allowed us to not feel constrained by it.

How do the various genres interact in your music? There's still a strong current in this new record of Mexican folk music, and that is the basis for a lot of sounds, a lot of the rhythms, a great deal of the instrumentation. So that's still a kind of compass for us in terms of helping us figure out our voice.

What is your current relationship to Mexico? I try to go back every year, at least for a month if I can. Although the last time I was down there, I found that the spread of violence had increased and had penetrated regions where previously I'd felt safe.

If you go: David Wax Museum will be part of John Wesley Harding's Cabinet of Wonders at City Winery on Sunday at 8 p.m., 155 Varick St., $25-$35.


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