Peligrosa crew launches label with Colombia/Austin’s Kiko Villamizar| 14 January, 2015
By now, most of us who set New Year’s resolutions have skipped the gym, lit the forbidden cigarette, and devoured a croissant that was supposed to be a smoothie. For the Austin, Texas -based Peligrosa crew, 2015 has brought a new record label.
Peligrosa’s founder, Orión García, tells us the newly minted label isn’t his first time at the rodeo.
“I ‘started’ one way back in 2000, but I never really understood the amount of work that goes into owning and running a label so it never really released anything beyond mixed CDs,” he says. Fifteen years later, after lots of DJing, producing music, and doing a heck of a lot of publishing and tax code research, he and his crew bring us Discos Peligrosa.
Garcia tells us the label will feature remixes and club music in the near future, including a compilation of original and remixed music from both the Peligrosa guys and Houston’s Bombón crew. But first, Discos Peligrosa is premiering an album of original music via Colombia-Miami-Austin’s Kiko Villamizar. (There’s also a party on Jan. 16 if you happen to find yourself in Texas!)
We had chat with the label’s debut artist, Villamizar, whose album, “La Remolacha,” is a fusion of Afro-Colombian styles with strong Caribbean and South American influences.
Sounds and Colours: The songs on this album are so obviously influenced with AfroColombian rhythms and melodies, but I’m also hearing jazz and other types of horns, and reggae influences, in some of the tracks. You were born in Miami, a hotbed for Latin music, and raised in Medellin. Did either city play more of a role influencing any of the tracks?
Kiko Villamizar: [The track] “San Antonio” is directly influenced by Medellin, as it is a story that takes place there. I used a tiple (a little colombian andean guitar native to the area) instead of a regular one for this track. The music from the Colombian Andes is in 6/8 time signatures most of the time. Rhythms such as bambuco and pasillo made this track the way it is, but even though the story is in Medellin, it is about the Mexican American mother of my children that lived with me there at the time. So, the rhythm became more of a Huapango, rather than a Bambuco. [The track] “Duality” has a tiple and has the same 6/8 business going. And believe it or not, the reggae tracks are all [influenced by] Medellin, as reggae music is super big there.
Also, while Medellin isn’t the most afro-Colombian city in the country, its people dance to afro-caribbean music, particularly classic salsa from the 1970s and afro-Colombian music of all kinds. It is part of the Tropical Andes and the culture is hot, like its weather and music.
S&C: The track “Por Que” has a Chico Trujillo vibe. Tell me about that track and its lyrics.
KV: It’s a lesson from my mother that I need to repeat to myself constantly: everything has a “why” (a reason). It reminds me that while things don’t go the way I plan all the time, there is a journey and a reason I might not be seeing. The musical style is influenced by living in New York for three years and being really impressed with Balkan music, Klezmer, Roma, and I feel that the “gypsy” plight is the same as the brown folks in the Americas. Immigrant communities have to adapt, learn everyone else’s music, and play it better than them in order to survive. I included merengue drums to combine the eastern European with the Latino. I also like the punk rock vibe of Roma music even though it is so folkloric.
S&C: Who are you most influenced by musically?
KV: Toto La Momposina, Los Gaiteros de San Jacinto, Garzon y Collazos, Los Panchos, Armando Manzanero (Mexico), Burning Spear (Jamaica), The Skatelites, all of La Fania All Stars, Sublime, Muddy Waters, Ella Fitzgerald, my Native elders from ceremony and my red road in general, my ancestors, my grandfather, my mother, my uncles and aunts, and my daughter. But my biggest influence, as I see the amazing similarities in all the roots musics of the world, are the sounds in nature: birds, frogs, crickets, water and the wind.
S&C: A couple of the tracks, including “San Antonio,” feature an Austin-based accordionist, Susan Torres. How did that come about?
KV: I live in Texas and the folk music from indigenous brown folks here is called conjunto. I think it is a beautiful tradition with a lot of character and even though it is one of the oldest most authentic styles of regional music here, it gets no attention from the festivals that come to Austin to supposedly celebrate the diversity of all music here. Susan Torres comes from greatness as her dad was a conjunto legend, and her mother played this type of music, too. As a working musician in Texas, I have played many gigs alongside her. We developed a friendship and she is my favorite accordion player in Texas. Also, I feel like people think women aren’t good musicians because they are underrepresented in music, as with everything else that is so patriarchally unbalanced. I love having a musically powerful sister like her on the album.
S&C: We are especially loving the gaita in “La Comunidad.” The track that follows, “Las Molas,” is such a bolero, and finally, the last track has lyrics in English. Was it always a plan for your first album to be so diverse in style and sound?
KV: The gaitas on “La Communidad” were written, arranged, and played by Orión. I wouldn’t say that I specifically planned to make my style diverse, but it was inevitable as I am a product of traveling, and all of my relations are represented in my music. I feel like the Latino fusion trend that started happening in the 1990s, and continues to morph now, isn’t some formula concocted to sound good. It is literally what I am made up of. I didn’t record any albums before this mostly because I couldn’t decide on a style, but as I musically grew up, I realized that all of these together are my style. My accent in English changes a lot depending on who I am talking to. I’ve lived in Florida, New York, South Carolina, California, and more ….. and i genuinely sound like all of that.
Listen to to Villamizar’s debut single and title track, “La Remolacha,” below, and pick up the album here. Follow new for Kiko Villamizar on Facebook. Keep up with Discos Peligrosa and more at the Peligrosa blog.
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