“It’s a nightmare, but we’re all gonna die, and you might as well do something you love,” answered Grant C. Dull, founder of ZZK Records, the premier record label in Buenos Aires, Argentina, which specializes in “cumbia digital.” And this Thursday, July 22nd, Buenos Aires’ best DJs and their drum-toting live band will be taking over Brooklyn Bowl.
In 2008, Grant C. Dull, whose DJ name is “El G,” founded Zizek, shortened to ZZK Records, after four years of building and running cultural events website What’s Up Buenos Aires. El G has played at festivals such as Coachella, Roskilde & Summer Stage in Central Park. The ZZK cumbia digital sound has influenced DJs and artists like Bersas Discos & Tormenta Tropical in San Francisco and DJ/Rupture and Diplo in the East. The sound has ignited a resurgence in cumbia music for a new generation of Latinos, hipsters, and world-music audiophiles alike, with leading label ZZK receiving a wide range of media attention from big names like The NY Times, CNN, The Fader, Mad Decent, Discobelle, and Generation Bass.
Cumbia is colored like Colombian sunsets. Cumbia sounds like Caribbean coconuts falling to the ground. Cumbia feels like the sweat underneath a Panama hat…. It’s African. It’s New World. It’s tribal, it’s digital. And now it’s coming to Brooklyn.
ZZK has been taking over Europe this summer in dozens of cities including Copenhagen, Dublin, Paris, Odense, Brussels and Barcelona featuring El G and DJ El Remolon. El Remolón mixes global dance, digital cumbia, dubstep and electro-reggaeton cuts. His sound is laid-back but heavy-hitting with a European dance floor untz. They’ve been plastered in the Paris subways all while maintaining a life on the road, long nights at clubs, while throwing in a mix of lying on the beach and washing their clothes.
This week, El Remolón and El G will cross the pond to begin a U.S. tour, joined by the tour’s headliner, Tremor, a full live band (ZZK’s only)– consisted of Leonardo Martinelli, a multi-instrumentalist and composer with ten years of experience scoring film and theater in Argentina, together with Camilo Carabajal and Gerardo Farez. Tremor deftly combines IDM with the sound of Northern Argentina where guitars, drums and other instruments breathe to the beat of computer bleeps. Their live performances include native Argentine instruments like the charango guitar, the bombo legüero drum, keyboards and synthesizers. Grant likes to describe Tremor’s sound as “digital folklorico.”
Bringing cumbia digital to the world hasn’t been easy for Grant, who doesn’t remember the last time he slept for more than six hours. “Some days, I want to be a farmer. But then I remember, it’s about music, passion and survival,” Grant says. “When I become overwhelmed I concentrate on the simple things like Heat + Bread= Toast. How sweet is that?”
As ZZK Records makes their way stateside they are hoping for a little support from their friends and fans to raise funds for the production of ZZK TV, an online video project designed to share their sound worldwide. Check out their Kickstarter project to support Save the Cumbia.
If you can’t make it to BK Bowl on Thursday, they will be playing Manhattan’s Le Poisson Rouge tomorrow night.
–Courtney Boyd Myers