Written by Ruben Casas
Often times when one hears electronica its connotation leads one to think about EDM, raves, festivals, and artists like Calvin Harris, Dillion Francis, David Guetta, Skrillex, Major Lazer and Steve Aoki. That’s definitely true with me, until I begin to wonder if alternativo has any EDM en Español. Where does alternativo fall within this spectrum you ask? Electronic DJs have been incorporating Latin music in the form of Caribbean- African based beats for some time now. These beats have a lot of drums and percussion, especially on their drops. In alternativo, there has always been a presence of electronica. However, the majority of the music is different than what we are accustomed to hearing. Different not in the terms of language but in terms of beats and rhythms. Sure some of the aesthetics may come across as peculiar, take DJ and producer Silverio or music’s subculture tribal for instance, but who’s to say going to a show in bright neon prints decked out with kandi isn’t unusual. For Latino artists it’s normal to bring their roots to their music and electronica is no exception. For example, artists such as Mexican Dubwiser or Mexican Institute of Sound mix digital beats with distinctive Latin rhythms: ranchera, boleros, cumbia, indigenous, etc. Frankly put there are more sounds to Latin America than just Caribbean rhythms.
So what happens when Spanish vocals are added to an EDM track? There is no need to picture it because it has already been done. Earlier this year at Sunset Music Festival in Miami, Florida, Cedric Geravis debuted his newest song featuring Columbian rock musician Juanes. And damn is it a solid EDM track!
For those that do not know Cedric, he is the mastermind behind the infectious remix of “Summertime Sadness” by Lana del Rey. Individuals new to the alternativo world, Juanes composed the hit single “Juntos [Together]” for the Disney original movie Mcfarland, USA and was the first Latino to perform the first Spanish song at the 2015 Grammys. Who would have guessed Juanes was one of Cedric’s favorite artists. Chido [coolness]!
But you would be surprised to know, these two are not the only ones meshing both worlds- alternativo with EDM.
Even Diplo is getting in the game by signing newly formed alternativo duo, Compass, to his Mad Decent label. Comprised of Mexican Institute of Sound (MIS) and Toy Selectah, individually both artists have had a successful career producing music and continue to influencing the electronica scene within alternativo. Now under the name of Compass, the duo continues to blend dance music with Latin rhythms. Their newest single, “Uy Uy Uy”, features a traditional cumbia beat paired with rap lyrics provide by Kool A.D. I wouldn’t be surprised if Compass and Diplo end collaborating on a mad EDM track together.
In fact the most recent jaw dropping collaboration has to be Maná and Steve Aoki. Earlier this week Maná, rock en Español icon, collaborated with Steve Aoki on a remix for “La Prisión”. Is it too early to dub this the collaboration of the year!? The drop on the track definitely adds to overall greatness of the song.
This new collaboration with two of the biggest names in the music industry in both American and Latin American market adds more validity that perhaps alterntivo is ready to embrace EDM. I’ve always said music is universal and language shouldn’t be a barrier to enjoy good music. Other artists combining alternativo and EDM include Bomba Estéreo with their electro tropical beats on their new album Amanacer, Argentinean artist Cumbia Drive with their cumbia spin on EDM and calling it electronic cumbia music (ECM) , and LA band Palenke Soultribe with their their Afro-Columbian electronic beats. This year, Zoé also revisited their most recent album, Programmaton, to provide remixes for each individual song. Feature collaborations include various artists and DJs from around the world, like Astro, Poolside, RAC, and Little Dragon. Check out Zoé’s collaboration with RAC where they reinvent “Fin de Semana.”
Its rare to hear collaborations like Maná and Steve Aoki or Cedric Gervais and Juanes, but when it happens no suena mal [it doesn’t sound bad].
But before these amazing collaborations between EDM DJs and Latin Artists, you have Latino Americano artists influencing the electronic scene in the US . That’s what happens when artists are multicultural. Mexican American DJ from Los Angeles, Deorro, is definitely a game changer when it comes to pushing boundaries in electronica. He is perhaps one of the most well known Latino DJ in the US. Last summer he dropped hit single “Perdóname” feat Adrian Delgado and Dycy. Personally that was the first time I heard an EDM track with Spanish vocals and I was left speechless. Now he is slowly climbing up the charts with his recent song “Five More Hours” feat Chris Brown. I don’t think he is done surprising us- I foresee more Spanish EDM for him.
This next artist is the youngest of the group. She may not have done any music in Spanish yet, but the fact that she is a young 20yr Latina Americana in the music industry is awesome. The Voice top 6 finalist, Melanie Martinez, has been racking up views on her songs form her debut album Crybaby. Her take of electronica and alternative is hauntingly beautiful. Just take a listen to her latest single “Soap” from her upcoming album.
The question remains, is Alternativo ready to embrace EDM? If this current trend continues and with the right exposure, I believe so. Who knows, maybe the next time you hear electronic you may associate it with EDM, raves, and alternativo!?! I am not opposed to hearing a collaboration between Bomba Estéreo and Major Lazer or Carla Morrison and John Dahlbäck.
I’m on air every Wednesday from 2pm-6pm on my show ‘Pico De Gallo’ & I have a duo show with Jay on Sundays from 10am-2pm called ‘Shakira Sundays’.
Follow me on instagram and twitter: @kyddsasquatch
Like the Alternativo En Espanol Facebook!