Compass: Navigating the Global Dancefloor

MIS + Toy Selectah Present: Compass

Antionio Hernández and Camilo Lara could be described as the modern-day dons of Latin music. The two producers better known as Toy Selectah and Mexican Institute of Sound have helped shape, globalise and drive the evolution of modern Latin American music. From the advent of digital Cumbia to subtly infusing modern-day Pop with Latin roots and sounds, the influence of these two can be felt on dancefloors and charts all over the world. Under the name Compass, the two have now combined forces on a project celebrating and championing global sound. It is in their words, the duo’s “PhD thesis on global music production”.

Lara, Maluca, Gael Garcia Bernal & Toy recording Compass

The name Compass comes from the Mexican compas or compadres meaning buddies but is also a metaphor for the project’s navigation around the world of modern music production. The album to be released in 2015 features an astounding 80 collaborators, from four continents, endless genres, styles and sounds.

“WE WANTED TO SHOW PEOPLE THAT THE DANCEFLOOR IS THE SAME EVERYWHERE; IT’S A VERY DEMOCRATIC PLACE WHERE ANYONE CAN SHARE MUSIC’S ENERGY”

Alongside some recognisable names in the Latin electronic music scene like Bonde Do Role, DJ Dusty, Eric Bobo (Cypress Hill) and Helado Negro, the project also features a few surprises including Boy George, Toots & the Maytals, Sly & Robbie and Roxy Music’s Phil Manzanera. As Lara says: “It’s a global album, but it all has a distinctive Mexican flavour.”

The album will be released next year but watch out for a series of five videos detailing the project recording process and more via Red Bull. Red Bull, which supported the recording of the album, also last week released a preview of one of the tracks, La Llama.

“IT’S JUST MUSIC, WE ALL SHARE A BEAT, YOU KNOW?”

This cut is held together by a trademark MIS sample fuelled beat fused with the global influences of Notch (formerly of Born Jamericans), New York’s Matty Rico and Ohmega Watts, ghetto-techno empress Maluca, legendary Cali dj Kut Masta Kurt and Beastie Boys collaborator Money Mark. Check out an interview with the two dons here for more information.

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Animated Cumbia

Splashes of colour, indigenous patterns, forests, rivers and sunshine, two traditional dancers dressed in white and red – the video for JWCM’s Cumbia de Piedra is a beautiful audio-visual impression of the producer’s native Colombia.

Directed by Tomás Pichardo, a fellow student of Jhon Williams Montoya Castro (JWCM) at the Italian communications research centre Fabrica in Treviso, the video is inspired by rural Colombian life from indigenous traditions to those of today’s campesinos. Reminiscent of a Miró painting, mixing anmation, stop motion, rotoscoping and digital painting, it gives a vision of the country from afar, the perfect backdrop to JWCM’s music, marrying the rhythms of his native homeland with his own classical violin playing and electronica.

JWCM

However, this is not the first incarnation of Cumbia de Piedra. The track featured as the centrepiece from JWCM’s part art exhibition, part concept album Mohs, focussed on the idea of creating sounds from stone. Uniting diverse inspirations from folkloric rhythms and live sampling to the mineral classification studies of German scientist Frederich Mohs, the album is part digital cumbia, part classical violin and part experimental. It even features a bespoke instrument called the ‘stone pad’ made from stones.

New sounds are in the pipeline from JWCM so watch this space!

Matanza – Chilean ‘Postmodern Folk’

Matanza are a Chilean group bringing Andean folklore into into the twenty first century. They mix traditional Latin American instrumentation like Colombian gaitas and Andean bombo drums with electronic beats and effects, drawing instant parallels to ZZK Records’ Tremor, who follow a similar path in Argentina. However, their techno/house influences shine through much stronger than their Argentine companions with the band taking inspiration from DJs like Ricardo Villalobos and Matias Aguayo. Matanza have gained a deserved reputation for their impressive live shows which mix electronica and live instrumentation in a fresh and forward thinking way, simultaneously inventive and danceable.

For a great introduction check out a promo Mix they did for the Gotwood Festival in Wales where the band will be playing this summer.

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DJ Raff

DJ Raff is a Chilean DJ and producer now living in Barcelona. He produces in the Machine Drum/Glitch Mob/Lucky Me! vein of experimental hip-hop/electronica/dubstep/anything goes. There are a good handful of really great tunes available for free download from his blog Ritmonauta. One of my personal favourites is 2 Fast:

DJ Raff, alongside groups like Panteras Negras and La Pozze Latina, also played an important role in the burgeoning Chilean hip-hop scene in the 1990s. Chilean hip-hop is has one of the most respected legacies in Latin America. He since worked with some of the biggest Chilean groups such as Chancho en Piedra and Los Tetas. There is a really great interview with DJ Raff (en espanol) on Concept Radio. His forthcoming disc “Collage Binari/Latino & Proud” will be released over the next few months through Mutante Discos in Chile and Nacional Records everywhere else. Here is a rather tasty little taster of what to expect:

Tigerstyle Interview

Tigerstyle have been at the forefront of the UK bhangra scene for over ten years now, making a name for themselves through their open-minded approach to the style, fusing traditional rhythms and instrumentation with everything from hip-hop to reggaeton. Check out our Q & A with Pops from the Glasgow duo and while you are reading have a listen to their latest podcast (see below).

The band was recently involved in saving the BBC Asian Network radio station after the BBC proposed cutting the station. It will however still face a 50% slash in its budget.
RnR: What would this mean for the UK Asian music scene?

P. We’ve got where we have so far with the support from the BBC Asian Network, we’re recognised across the globe as being ambassadors of the UK Bhangra scene, but without the Asian Network I doubt we’d be still making music today. If the BBC wants to nuture British made Asian music then they have to keep the station running. The whole world looks to the UK for music, and Asian people across the world look to the Asian Network to be educated.

RnR: Since your early days as Desi Bombsquad Soundsystem have you seen the Scottish bhangra scene grow?

P: When we first started, the clubs in Glasgow were all just playing cheesey pop or dance music, even hip-hop wasn’t played in the clubs at that time. There were no regular bhangra nights, just the one off event here and there. We ran a series of bhangra events at what was then called the Temple nightclub, were part of a group of artists resident at B.Ding which was a global electronic night, and we also then ran a bhangra residency at Destiny nightclub. I think that gave other DJs and promoters the confidence to start promoting their own nights.

The scene has gone through the process of being built, and then being flooded by too many events all happening at the same time, to now being pretty dry, aside from the events put on by Bobby B and GTown Desi. Those guys do a good job in keeping the local Bhangrheads in tune with what the current sounds are.

RnR: Do you feel Glasgow is an open-minded city (music wise)?

P: I feel like its a lot more open to different music these days, more so than it used to be. It used to be hard to find venues which hosted events associated with the sounds we were into, like drum ‘n’ bass, UK garage, hip-hop and dancehall. It has changed now and there’s a healthy music scene here in the city with even the most cutting edge sounds like dubstep being given a platform. Its just a shame that bhangra or Asian electronic music has not been embraced by as much of the non-Asian public as we’d hoped. Maybe this is something we should work on.

RnR: Tigerstyle  were early pioneers of the mash-up (Nachna Onda Nei for example) and bootlegging, are you still fans of mash-up culture?

P: Mash-ups are cool, they have a special kind of energy cos’ the tunes that are mixed are usually hype themselves so if songs are combined well the product can be great. Nachna Onda Nei was a huge tune for us, and being used by Signature for their Britain’s Got Talent performance just made it bigger. It was a shame we didn’t manage to clear the samples otherwise the tune would have been a chart topper at the time I think.

RnR: How has the increasingly global music scene affected your productions/DJ sets?

P: We’re very open with the approach to what music we play in our DJ sets, it just depends on the crowd though. You need to play to the crowd. If you think they wanna be tested and excited by new sounds then you can take risks and be creative, but if they are into one type of sounds you have to stick to it so that they can enjoy the experience of your DJ set rather than you trying to educate them. It totally depends on the situation. Our podcasts are a good cross-section of the type of sounds we’re into, be it bhangra, bollywood, hip-hop and dancehall or Bass music like UK garage, drum ‘n’ bass, electronic and dubstep.

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March 2011 Podcast Cloudcast by TigerstyleOnline

(The interview continues after the jump…)

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Uproot Andy XLR8R Podcast

Uproot Andy is one of the few producers whose tunes/re-edits/remixes are consistently top quality, drawing lines between tropical bass, dancehall and traditional Latin American rhythms and music in a fresh, innovative and always dancefloor friendly way. His re-fix of Los Rakas take on the Hold Yuh riddim Abrazame says it all:

It is great news then to see Uproot Andy putting together the latest XLR8R Magazine podcast (number 187 no less!) The mix consists of re-edits, unreleased material and lots more, blurring lines between many different scenes and styles.

Download here.

Boogat – Perfection


Boogat, the Spanish spitting Montreal based MC returns with another sure-fire tune. After working with some great producers in the global bass/digital cumbia ilk (El Remolón, Douster, Poirier) he has teamed up this time with Geko Jones (Dutty Artz/Que Bajo?) to produce “Perfection” which is available for free download from Remezcla. The tune is cumbia/salsa/latin dancefloor goodness with some playful lyrics about hablantes de español…

If you want to hear more then check out Boogat’s  latest mixtape Que Pegue Duro Y Violento mixed by Poirier and watch out for the MC’s forthcoming solo album in 2011.