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After several unsuccessful attempts by close friends and family, to persuade the members of QSYDF to change their name to something a little easier to pronounce, vocalist Juano tells us in an exclusive interview the story behind those acronyms. The Q and S, on one hand, stand for Juano´s rap project “Quimika Soul”, while D and F stand for “Distrito Funk”, founded by former vocalist Sapo.
Ecuadorian musicians of current renown, were, at some point, part of one of these two projects a decade ago, when they were all just finishing high school. After graduating and moving to different countries to study, the projects dissolved and it was only 10 years later, in 2018, that these childhood friends met in their hometown and decided to merge those acclaimed childhood experiments together.Hence “Quimika Soul y Distrito Funk” (QSYDF) was born with the release of their first record together: ‘Date’.
Lots of energy and humour, intricate rhymes, funky bass slaps and jazzy dyes characterise the band’s sound, nowadays conformed by Ronald, Fercho, Christian and the above mentioned vocalists Juano and Sapo.
The city of Medellin, Colombia does not cease to amaze us for being an incessant talent incubator and linker for all genres. Two of these prodigies, Pablo and Alejandro met in 2007 at university studying music and started making electronic music using a computer, a controller and a guitar. Shortly after, Sara joins in the voices to consolidate a character who likes raw sounds but at the same time is an ally of machines and who’s sound reflects moments of contemplation, noise or can even induce movement of the body; all this accompanied by a female voice that guides the melodic lattices that shape its speech. This character is called Mr. Bleat.
In an exclusive interview, Alejandro comments: “almost always Pablo and I propose a small instrumental passage, a beat, something that has that key moment of the song, and from there Sara begins to provide vocal melodies. Finally we structured the theme and wrote the letter to six hands. We think about a theme and then we build the narration among it”. Their influences beyond being specific musical referents, come from the experiences of each one that, at the moment of expressing them in the form of a song, tends to result in a theme to a certain extent danceable but with a bit of nostalgia or darkness. Mr. Bleat’s latest release, ‘Del Tiempo Perdido’, along with ‘El Buho’, are just the first steps that mark a new path towards what will be a new album. These two singles make part of the sonority that the group reached when creating the album ‘Los Lobos’, a palette of more electronic sounds, synthesizers, rhythm machines and a sensation of dance-able darkness in which we still feel comfortable.
Danny lived his childhood in the USA, where he formed a band, which did not fare badly for his young age. After moving to the small city of Cuenca, Ecuador, at the age of fourteen, a tragedy occurred. Danny’s best friend committed suicide leaving a broken heart and all their undocumented musical projects blank. After a long recovery, Danny learns to record with an old laptop. It is then, at the age of sixteen, when Nockah is born. After recording some homemade demos, Danny meets musicians of similar influences who were attached to the project. Alongside Agustin, Daniel, David and Luis, Danny records his first homemade single, which attracts the attention of their first followers, and classified their sound as spatial indie core. A few days ago, after several months of production and editing, the music video of ‘Seres’ was released, exceeding the expectations of the growing Nockah fan group.
Weste was born after the encounter of two great exponents of the Latin American music scene. On one hand, Clara Truco, Argentine member of Femina, and on the other, Igna Perez, from the neighbouring country of Uruguay, member of Mushi Mushi Orchestra. What began as a simple game involving folkloric instruments of the world with electronic experimentation, ended up consolidating in 2014, after the addition of three musicians from several of the best Latin-American music projects: Gonzalo Garcia from Budha Sound on the bass, Pedro Bulgakov from Diego Frekel and La Cosa Mostra on the drums, and Fermin Echeveste from Morbo and Mambo on the winds.
Weste rounded off 2018 with the release of their latest single titled ‘Razones’, a peak into their third and soon to be released LP. Exploring a more jazzy sound with remnants of hip hop, slow tempo and a light groove which generate a chill atmosphere, where the trumpet appears as the key player, the pair have delivered an absolute gem.
Altoparlante is a music project formed by Adrián Rentería and Ernesto Natarén that originates from Mexico City. Founded in 2017, the duo’s sound is mainly composed of Latin rhythms and harmonies fused with electronic intonations. Ernesto, who studied percussion in Cuba, is in charge of the melodic and rhythmic aspect of the music, contributing the “organic” element, while Adrián, an audio engineering enthusiast, takes charge of the electronic and technical side of the project.
Influences range from the funk of James Brown, through traditional Cuban music, to electronic music in general. The musical constant in the songs is the use of Latin percussive instruments (conga, yembé, batá, timbaes), metal section (saxophone and trumpet) and analogue synthesizers to create the harmonies. All of which can be heard in their latest single, the smooth and groove-inflected ‘Ando Chilango’.
Marlon Morales aka Lil Supa is a Venezuelan rapper/producer who has quickly become one of the greatest exports of Latin American hip hop. After years of groundbreaking releases, collaborations, presentations and tours around the world, Lil Supa embarks on his most ambitious project, an audiovisual album composed of thirteen video clips titled ‘SERIO’. Throughout the record Supa exchanges roles with Lou Fresco, his alter ego, who incarnates the role of the protagonist, director and writer of this masterpiece. Film, photography, design and art direction are some of the creative fields that Morales had to explore to faithfully reflect his thoughts and feelings about his career, travel and experiences in ‘SERIO’.
Born parallel to the 2016 US presidential election in response to xenophobic declarations and actions against Latin immigrants, Tulengua identify themselves as “a bilingual hip hop supergroup from both sides of the most crossed border in the world”. Tulengua seeks to demonstrate how Mexicans and North-Americans, Spanish and English speakers, can be combined through the universal language of music to reflect the beauty of the neighbouring countries and dissolve political, geographical, linguistic and racial boundaries.
All the profits from their latest record ‘Baja Funk’ were donated to an immigrant rights organisation. With lyrics denoting awakening and conscience, the protest tone is evident, yet they maintain a message of hope and positivity; the band’s aim is to recover the humanity that unites people instead of dividing them, using music as medicine to heal the world of hatred and excessive division.
The child of a French father and a Venezuelan mother, Sophia Helena Fustec Briceño is a collage of cultures. A one-girl-band who composes, writes, sings, plays and produces everything in her home studio, her energetic creations convey common messages of faith and authenticity. Frequently known as La Chica, she affirms that her influences are widespread; when she’s not dedicated to her productions, she listens to sounds ranging from late-era Beatles and Radiohead to Caribbean artists such as Fania All Stars and Rubén Blades. Currently residing in Paris, international tours and concerts have been recurrent since the formation of her project in 2014. Her latest single “Sola” is an ethereal journey, as looped vocals and driving synthesisers build to a powerful electronic crescendo.
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Today we take a look back 18 years, to recall a jewel from legendary Mexican duo Plastilina Mosh. Founded in 1996 by Jonas González and Alejandro Rosso, the band released their second album “Juan Manuel” in 2000; a 13-track masterpiece, the album features a diverse range of sounds that make it almost impossible to classify by genre, mood or language whatsoever, with lyrics in English, Spanish, German, Italian and Portuguese.
The journey begins with “Nordic Laser”, an entirely instrumental krautrock piece, perhaps the simplest piece of the album before the madness is unleashed; the grooves of “Boombox Baby” and “Bareta 87” give the album a retro dancefloor sensation, drawing on Giorgio Moroder-esque richness, while “Shampoo” and “Aropador” are subtle and seductive and the likes of “International Stereo (Bassass)” and “Let The Speaker Speak” demonstrate a raw aggressive energy.
A classic record that is powerful, unpredictable, and truly timeless.
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In the Aymara language, “Churupaca” is a giant adaptable, multi-talented insect that can swim, fly, jump and hunt, amongst other skills; thus, the Buenos Aires neo-orchestra found the perfect name for their project. Formed by a diverse group of musicians of various disciplines, Churupaca stand out for their acoustic sentimentality and the romanticism of their lyrics. Together, members Juana, Fefo, Ricardo, Darío, Joaquín and Pablo gave birth to their second record this year, entitled “Antes de Mañana” (“Before Tomorrow” in English). The fifteen-track masterpiece guides us on a journey through countless textures and styles from across Latin America and the world, with folk and soul influences alongside classic elements of the tango, burlesque and waltz. The album’s instrumental exuberance is defined by the dramatic qualities of the wind and string sections, the sumptuous accordion melodies and Juana’s emotive, longing vocals, creating a rich, multi-layered body of work to be savoured.
‘La Niña Quantica’ Julián Mayorga, is a perfect example of the enigmatic Colombian producer’s ingenious, surrealist creations. The “cumbia” begins and a continued mantra that spouts: “A la niña le gusta la física cuántica (the girl likes quantum physics)”; unexpectedly, the lyrics also describe the function of the theory of perturbations in quantum mechanics. With such irreverent themes in his writing, this track from his 3-track EP “Nixon en la Playa” uses tropical elements and Andean folklore alongside progressive electronic experimentation and a somewhat black humor, the most characteristic elements of Mayorga’s sound,
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Otura Mun, an African-American musician and Babalawo (high priest) in the Yoruba religion arrived in Puerto Rico in the late nineties, and quickly positioned himself as one of the most important producers on the island. Accompanied by musicians Rafael Maya, Beto Torrens, Anthony Sierra, Yarimir Cabán and dancer Pia Love, Mun founded the multi-national project ÌFÉ, a powerful progressive synthesis of electronic sound drawing on influences from Cuban rumba, Sacred Yoruba praise songs, Jamaican dancehall, and US R&B. IIII+IIII (pronounced “Edgy-Og-Beh”) is the title of the nine-song debut album from ÌFÉ, released last year. The 45-minute ceremony combines Mun’s fluid, percussive rhythms with spiritual lyricism oscillating seamlessly between English, Spanish and Yoruba. Genre-less yet focused and clear, serene and ethereal at times and determined and powerful at others, this is a record that in spite of its high production values is as unpredictable as it is natural and raw – an astonishing piece of music from a truly unique act.
La Garfield emerged five years ago in the Mexican city of Guadalajara as the victors of a high school band contest project. The 8-piece group were originally focused on jazz, but have been adding elements of funk rock, pop and disco as their sound has progressed over their three released albums to date. The intention of the band is to spread positive and loving sensations through their music; grooving basslines, rhythmic percussion and melodic wind sections provide the idyllic bohemian sound to La Garfield’s latest release “Todo Lo Rico”, while the soulful voice of lead singer Sofia contributes latin flavour and pure uplifting vibes.
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‘Koopa-Cabras’ is a unpredictable celebration of monsters and folklore. The latest release of Tropa Mágica, the musical project of brothers Rene and David Pacheco, the track stars modern mythological creature Koopa merged with a more cryptic Latin-American character in The Chupacabras, who’s name comes from the beast’s reported habit of attacking and drinking the blood of livestock.
The track starts with synth arpeggios that mark the “arcade videogame ultimate villain feeling”, before suspensive percussion appears followed by a bassline and surf style guitars that creates the tropical punk mood characteristic of the Pacheco Brothers. The siblings, based in Los Angeles but of Mexican roots, collaborated in this occasion with two other Latin artists: Fredo Ortiz and César Mejía.
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Almost a decade ago a dub legend, Mad Professor, originally from the tip of South Americas belly, Guyana, joined forces with the Uruguayan Alicia Dal Monte Campuzano known worldwide as Alika to give life to an iconic album in the history of dub: ‘Mad Professor Meets Alika’.
The complex work, entirely produced by Mad Professor, has seven tracks with their respective dub version of each. Alika’s powerful voice contributes direct, clear lyrics in both English and Spanish that speak of respect, dignity, and self-confidence as she rejects the oppression, consumerism and corporate dominance of Western society.
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An ensemble of woodwind instrumentation and beatboxed rhythms distinguish the sound of ‘Sistema’, a four track EP released last year by Eric Mandarina. An experienced musician, actor and all-round entertainer, since 2004 he has been studying self-taught percussion, classical guitar and acoustic drums. His latest proposal is a journey that mixes elements of dub and reggae with analogue house bass and funk-infused drum pulses, as lyrics loaded with mundane questions seek to demonstrate the systematic operations that we oppose.
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In 2016 Mercedes Nasta, former vocalist of Mexican electronic rock band Disco Ruido, undertook her solo adventure. Creating her own downtempo, hypnotic brand of cumbia (the carribean-infused folk music of northern Latin America), Nasta took the reins of the project as she developed her production skills; this, combined with her deep poetry, soft voice and the collaboration of gifted musicians under her direction produced a masterful project inspired by basalt, the form of cold lava from which the album takes its name. ‘Basalto’ is a experiment, record with a soulful, psychedelic touch that whispers a nostalgic and mystical lullaby, exploring a range of themes including architecture, internal transformations and pre-hispanic art.
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Tomás Justo delighted listeners this year with his debut solo album ‘Ronco y Bruxo’. A former member of successful acts Onda Vada and Michael Mike, the composer and vocalist moved away from constant touring life to create his most sincere and romantic work to date. In addition to taking care of the bulk of the composition and production of the album’s 11 songs, Justo also handles most of the instrumentation, playing guitar, bass, synthesisers and a range of analog and digital percussion, resulting in a unique blend of electronic folk and progressive pop.
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During the last few years a new wave of female rappers has emerged in Central America, using hip-hop as a force for social change. One of them is Nakury; born Natasha Campos, she first came into contact with hip-hop culture at the age of 13 through graffiti, alongside names like Mush, Sneak and PSK. As an activist, MC and social commentator, Nakury writes rhymes on social, philosophical themes to spread her message of inclusivity. Drawing from her experiences growing up in an environment of domestic violence, her desire to write about resilience and change distinguishes her from many of her peers. Her 2017 album ‘VIA’ is a 16-track project which she described “as the road, as the present, the now”, and features collaborations with artists such as Rebecca Lane, Barzo, Kumary Sawyers, YOGI beatbox, Nacho Páez, and Guadalupe Urbina. Nakury explains that she sees ‘VIA’ as an “introspective adventure that shows life as a way that gives you knowledge and spiritual power to face individual or collective situations”. Over a refreshing mixture of boombap, breakbeat and trap, she delivers lyrics that encourage a return to the roots and love of nature; Nakury speaks of protest and female empowerment, and sees hip-hop as a tool to approach women’s communities rather than an ends in itself, so that the voices of resistance can find an amplifier in her music.
Berlin-based, Argentinian producer and feline fanatic Catnapp combines rap, breakbeat, drum and bass and more to create an intense, nostalgic atmosphere. Fat beats are driven by lyrics confessing the deepest childhood memories over huge, compressed pads and synths, resulting in a unique, original sound. ‘No Cover’, her most recent release, is an aggressive two-track EP engendered by feelings of deceit, disappointment and anger. Heavy breaks and broken glasses give ‘No Cover’ an air of invincibility, belligerence and empowerment.