Michel Cleis – La Mezcla

It was the beginning of summer 2008, I had just returned home to Lausanne from holiday in Colombia with my girlfriend at the time (half-Swiss, half-Colombian), where we’d been visiting family and discovered wonderful nature spots, amazing food and, of course, music. I did not know a lot about Colombian music and my first contact with this percussive sound was listening to a song called La Tortuga by Joe Arroyo. I loved the rhythmic energy and asked the family for more music with this feel. I was convinced I could try something with the sound and that it might be possible to adapt it for the dance-floor.

MIchel Cleis

Michel Cleis


I was gardening at home in Lausanne when my friend came up to me with La Candela Viva in her hands. She just said: “You should listen to this singer, I’m sure you’ll love her.” That album is responsible for radical changes in my life. Totó’s voice is extraordinary: Love, roots, energy are the three words that come to mind thinking about her music. There is something really fresh there and so close to nature somehow – really different compared to most of the music I had listened to before.

Back in my studio, I listened carefully to the album, looking for percussive ideas and sensing that there might be even more there. I don’t know what kind of magic occurred in those sessions: rhythms, harmonies and notes were coming together really fast – which is a big deal for me – and, in around 14 days, my tune, La Mezcla, was born.

At that time I was already working with the Swiss-Chilean DJ and record-label owner Luciano, so I sent him the track. I remember he wrote back from Romania the next day telling me he’d played it 3 times in his set and it drove people crazy. The track continued to be hugely successful across the whole underground scene during the summer of 2008. In 2009 it became the track of the Miami Music Conference, then track of the summer season 2009 in Ibiza and, finally, became an international crossover hit.

Michel Cleis. Lausanne. May 2015.