Alyosha Barreiro '01 recently caught our attention when he performed in Mexico City in front of over 120,000 people for their Day of the Dead festival. We caught up with him after, and it turns out he is no stranger to huge crowds and incredible stories.
Barreiro was raised in Mexico by a family of artists. His mother is a painter, his father is a sculptor and just about everyone in his family is in the art business. “I’m a little bit used to the creative process....Everyone around me is in this kind of world.” By the time he was 14, he was working and making a living as a musician, playing percussion in raves and other dance music concerts.
After graduating from Berklee in 2001, he and some other recent alumni headed for New York City on September 11. They had a place that they were going to rent and were ready to move in, but they didn’t even get as far as the city limits before the police stopped them and told them the sad news about the terrorist attack. They turned around and headed back to Boston. Barreiro was so moved by the horror of the event and by the sheer size of the area of affected people that he wrote a piece called "September 11." The song helped him break through into the Mexican music industry, charting at no. 1 on Mexico’s radio station and being included in about 12 different compilations.
In the meantime, Barreiro had moved back to Mexico City and was ready to start making his music heard. A hand percussion principal with a dual Bachelor of Music in music business and music synthesis (now electronic production and design), he spent his first five years back in Mexico playing with many different bands in many different styles before he really blew up in the techno/house music scene. He had his first big techno music concert in Mexico City’s Downtown Plaza, playing for 80,000 people. After that, he was unstoppable, playing in Mexico’s biggest venues and events including inaugurations for monuments, at art museums, and in the middle of cities, surrounded by buildings on every side.
Prehispánica Electrónica and Onward
Prehispánica Electrónica is Barreiro's most recent endeavor, an original concept that magically combines Mexico’s ancestral roots with contemporary society, art, and technology. Barreiro has teamed up with the dance group Nok Niuk to create a unique experience that is very close to his heart and that challenges the expectations of what electronic music can mean. ”Electronic music is about exploration; it does not need to be dance music or techno/house music. There were only two times in the two+ hour Day of the Dead concert where there was a steady 4/4 beat.” The November 1 performance also featured fellow alumnus and piano player Alex Mercado ’98, who recently recorded an album with rising star drummer Antonio Sanchez ’97 (the drummer behind the score of Birdman).
Showing his music business side, Barreiro is the founder of three Mexican record labels: Ajenjo Music, TurnDown Records, and Skin Records, each showing a different side of his multifaceted personality. He is also the creator of Beats x la Educación, a project to help get high school kids involved in music and to make it part of the community experience.
Advice for Young Alumni
Barreiro likes to stress the importance of learning about networking and seeing the full picture. As he says, "You can say ‘I’m a great bass player, they should hire me,’ but how are you going to make that happen? There are times that you do great, and there are times that you don’t do so great, but you’ve got to continue practicing and continue moving forward. The only way things are going to move in the music business is if you try to collaborate with people and manage your career in an intelligent way. Take time to think about your goals and think of the best way to get there. It will save tons of time.”