I had intended for this to go a bit wider than the two artists featured but no-one wants to read a novel and there’s more than enough here to whet the appetite, so we’ll have a more extensive new/digal/whateveryouwanttocallit cumbia and related hooha post in the future. Next up for the interview transcript biz after this is Lido Pimienta and it's a monster in every single aspect.
Hanyways this is a supplement to ‘The Irresistible Shuffle’ feature which appears in the August edition of Real Groove (out now for NZ folk), and basically contains all the interview gear that won’t appear in print. So if it feels like there’s a chunk missing here or there.. well there probably is.
Buy links and more at the bottom so get thy purchase on and support these artistes and this ridiculously on point label, the Chancha Via Circuito ‘Rio Arriba’ album will almost undoubtedly be in my Top Ten Of The Year.
For some reason that I cannot fathom Real Groove decided to run a full page picture of El Remolon next to my piece on Tremor and Chancha Via Circuito, it beggars belief. The pictures below are correct.
DJ Nim (on left above) is one of the founding trio of the ZZK parties alongside El G and Villa Diamante and subsequent label/movement. He kindly stepped in last minute to help make sure I was getting my facts straight while I was putting the feature together as El G was off touring outernationally and flying the ZZK flag with gusto elsewhere.
Nim describes his current role as mainly an audio engineer and artistic production, and it was a real privilege to get the guff from the horses mouth as it were, I wish I’d had the time to pick his brains further.
What would really be helpful would be a timeline for digital cumbia (I know that folks like DJ Taz and Dick El Demasiado were pioneers for example but am unsure of dates) and also when the Zizek parties and label came into play?
“In the timeline of digital cumbia I would add as pioneers Fauna, Marcelo Fabian and El Hijo de la Cumbia, although the latter prefers to call his sound "Cumbia New Roots". They mostly didn’t know each other at the time, they appear to have "came from the void" at the same time. Then like a cross pollination bee appears Villa Diamante, beginning to collect and play this music in his sets all over Buenos Aires along with his own cumbia-driven mashups, Marcelo Fabián and a small collective around him (DJ´s Pedigree) started to do the same, and of course a big impulse was received in the digital cumbia proto-scene by a few but hot "Festicumex" parties, headed by Dick el Demasiado and Sonidos Martines (kind of a Deep-Roots-Cumbia-DJ), and featuring Axel Krigier, Marcelo Fabian, Fantasma among others. ORO 11 and his crazy productions and mashups should be mentioned also, inspired directly from cumbia villera sound, clashing with his Hip Hop - Baltimore - Dancehall background that came in his bag from San Francisco.
Zizek parties emerged from all that in October of 2006, giving this new sound a weekly place, where al the artists began to know each other and the "scene" began to build. As recent outcomers (you may call it the "second wave") from this sound should be mentioned El Remolón, Chancha Via Circuíto, King Coya (all of whom in fact started from and within Zizek club nights!) Also The Peronists, El Trip Selector, etc. And now there is what you may call it (maybe too soon, but useful for the thinking process) a third wave, with some brand new artists nurturing the future and expanding the horizon of this sound, as Lagartijeando, Sonido del Principe, Superguachin, Uproot Andy, Douster...
Zizek Parties where ambitious from the beginning, and from its very name in fact! We tried to produce a quality party, with quality flyers and communication (comprehensive newsletters with bio and photo from the artists, a full featured web page, etc), photoshooting, rotating VJ´s..... from the very beginning it aimed high. Add a very unique and talented underground and you have the recipe.”
CHANCHA VIA CIRCUITO
Can you tell me a little about your background and how you came into producing music and the Zizek/ZZK axis?
“I started playing bass in a band with classmates in primary school, then I got a guitar and began to compose my own songs. I’ve played in all sorts of bands with very different styles. I started making music on my PC ten years ago using fruity loops, which I continue to use. It´s awesome. When Zizek parties began, I was invited to play, so I started to experiment with danceable music. At that time, I was listening to a lot of different kinds of cumbia and dub, and this is how I started composing my first dance songs, And Zizek was the place for play them. Zizek club worked as a place where we had the opportunity to experiment on the dancefloor.”
There is a very distinct CVC sound, it reminds me a lot of Ennio Morricone with the use of minimal instruments to create drama and atmosphere, is that intentional?
“I never have any idea of what I want to create beforehand, so, if my songs create drama- excellent! I like Ennio Morricone, and that you find something in common between us.”
Your sound (for me) has a very modern flavour but there are many elements that ground it historically in South American traditions/musical foundations, is that what you are deliberately trying to do?
“Nothing is deliberate when I play. This is the result of a personal search, which is always changing.”
“All kind of genres. I love music in general, but nowadays I´m listening to a lot of South American rhythms and folkore from the Andes.”
How is your music received by 'traditional' cumbia' musicians or cumbia villera musicians? Is there much or any dialogue between the older, more traditional artists and this new school? Your Jose Larralde remix for example is a track that bridges the gap between old and new for me.
“The reality is that there isn´t much dialogue between us. We know some artists who play cumbia villera and we respect each other, but I don´t know how it´s received by "traditional cumbia musicians". I met José Larralde once and gave him a CD with my remix, but I never received his feedback.”
I share your love of tympani and big beautiful tuned drums, where did this come from?
“I don’t know why I love percussion, or where it comes from, but it’s definitely a fact.”
How do you go playing your music out, the tempos are often quite low but they are almost impossible not to move to! Is there a big difference between the audiences in Argentina (and South America) and playing the US etc?
“I tend to play at the beginnings of parties, or not so late, because of the tempo in my music. But my set works well in general, and makes people dance everywhere.”
What are you currently working on (and any remixes etc I should be looking out for/hunting down)?
“I just finished my last album ‘Rio Arriba’ that will be released in three weeks, and I’m also preparing a new mixtape for XL8TR (LINK) music magazine (USA), and a new set for the North American tour with ZZK records, which starts at the end of July.”
Can you tell me a little about your background and how you came into producing music? I hear you are from a musical background can you tell us a little about that and how it has obviously affected the retro-modern unique style of Tremor.
“My first instrument was the drums, when I was at school. But I didn’t realize I wanted to be a musician 'till I was 17 years old. I have different backgrounds regarding my music preparation. I've been in the conservatory, I've studied jazz, folkloric windwoods, composition, I play guitar, charango, ronrocco, bombo leguero, and some other stuff.
I also love technology. My first approach to sequencers and samplers was like 17 years ago. I had many musical projects during the years, but I never had a "plan", or an intention of "conquering" something. I can't help making music; I need it to stay balanced. So, I'm really happy about the way things are happening with Tremor, it is like a natural flow, with constant surprises.”
Influences? (Argentinean, South American and elsewhere)
“I have many influences. For example, Jaivas (from Chile) and Arco Iris (first Santaolalla's band). Both bands are pioneers on exploring the fusion of South American folklore during the 70s. Also experimental music like Stockhausen, John Cage, Electronic music like Matmos or Aphex Twin.”
On a few tracks the remix album seems to reflect a more club-aware sound, is that a deliberate move or just a reflection of the remixy nature of it? I'm also curious if that is a result of playing more live shows etc
“‘Para Armar’, the album we are releasing right now, is a compilation of different remixes I’ve made during the last years. On one hand, it is like you say, it has some influence of our live experiences during the shows. I thought it was cool to show another aspect of the Tremor sound, more relaxed and groovie. But, the third album of Tremor, won't go into that direction. In fact, we are gonna bring a lot of new elements to the Tremor sound, I think we are gonna surprise some of our old time listeners.”
How did you find the remix competition process (the good, the bad and the ugly?)? I know from personal experience that hearing mixes of your own gear that you don't care for can be quite upsetting.
“It was very fun to hear all those mixes. I was really surprise also, by the global response. In fact, if you check the winners, you'll see remixers from different places around the globe. (Australia, Colombia, India!, Berlin, etc) The amazing thing, was hearing all that people dealing with a charango and Saya for the first time! Or dealing with a bombo leguero, and it malambo groove.
It is curious how many interpretations of the same music you can find.”
I have read about your quest for new (old) instruments (and the incredible Sachaguitarra!! will that be featuring on your 3d album?) Do you feel a sense that this is a little like protecting endangered species - ie .. if you don't document and utilize them they may disappear in a generation?
“Yes! Absolutely! But also, Tremor is about not having prejudices, but most of all, I'm a very curious guy, I don't think everything, it is more curiosity, and the adrenaline of trying new things which keeps pushing Tremor forward.” (There’s a good chunk of this answer in the Real Groove print version if it seems a bit stilted btw)
What can we expect from the next Tremor album and when can we expect it?
“We have like the 70 % of the album made. We'll release it on the beginning of 2011. I'm very excited, it's gonna be our best album! We are evolving, a new Tremor sound is appearing which I like, because I don't want us to repeat ourselves. It’s gonna be emotional, but very powerful. Up-tempo music with a lot of passion. Lot of new toys and sounds coming out of it. Stay tuned!”
Tremor’s ‘Para Armar’ is out well soon - being a remix and odd&sods collection it lacks the cohesive overwhelmingness of ‘Viajante’ but it’s an excellent pick’n’dip record, and a solid snack before the arrival of the next full-length Tremor truffles alluded to in the last response.
In the meantime check Viajante his stunning ZZK debut, to help you on the way to that the label have kindly allowed us to post a track for the week.
Chancha Via Circuito’s sophomore scorcherator ‘Rio Arriba’ is soon to be rippling around in retail and whatnot and I simply can’t say enough good things about this record. His remix of Ruby Sun’s ‘Cinco’ took a couple of plays for me but that was all... SOLD! Below is a track from 'Rodante' which remains a benchmark album for progressive Latin American tackle.
I'll update this post when I know more about when these albums will be available for your hungry ears.
Chancha Via Circuito
‘Rio Arriba’ (ZZK) upcoming
MUGUERA - CHANCHA VIA CIRCUITO
'Para Armar’ (ZZK) upcoming
Muchos gracias to Chancha, Tremor, Nim, Grant, Derek and all of the fine folk at, or linked to, ZZK/Zizek. Hard to recall a nicer bunch of people to deal with, especially through the stiff medium of interview email, and with them kindly returning the answers in English and supplying all that was needed etc. It's always pleasant and rewarding, to confirm that artists and music that you have been championing are all that.. and then some.
Buy some of their music (the ZZK site is a good place to start and iTunes have the handle also) so they can keep on, keepin' on. Here's a wee vid of their current exploits conquering America.