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A Few Moments With The Ghetto Electric Sessions

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Last March a new radio show launched in Christchurch, New Zealand, with the focus of the show to be dedicated to global bass music, spanning many genres from moombahton, cumbia, trap, hip hop and just about anything else that strikes the global audiences interests.

I was fortunate as well as very grateful to be featured on this show last week. All thanks of course go to the tag team hosts, the loving couple that has graced our Facebooks and blogs with their presence, Wubzilla and DangerGirl.

Here is the mix from Ghetto Electric Sessions where I was gratefully featured. Listen along as you read some questions and answers between Wubzilla, DangerGirl and myself.

Ghetto Electric ep46 by The Ghetto Electric Sessions on Mixcloud

EGU- How did Global Bass originally make its way to you in New Zealand? It’s such a far a way island, was it first from online sources or was it brought over by travelers and/or immigrants you encountered?

Wubz and DG- I think Global Bass had been here for a while before we really found it. I used to DJ a graveyard shift on Auckland’s student radio station 95bFM back in 1997. My slot was after a show called ‘Stinky Grooves’, hosted by DJ Stinky Jim. He was playing a lot of interesting stuff back then and his show would have been where I first heard contemporary latin-influenced beats and Cumbias.

The Ghetto Electric was born when DangerGirl first heard Munchi’s remix of ‘Firepower’ by Datsik and managed to find Munchi & Heartbreak’s ‘Munbreakton’ ep in July of 2010. We had both become bored with the aggressive sounds of the Dubstep and Drum’n’Bass scenes here and that ep opened up a whole new world of music for us. We spent a LOT of time searching through blogs (Generation Bass had a huge influence in the early stages) and Soundcloud to find tracks. At first we were only looking for Moombahton, but we started finding whole new genres we had never come across before and before we knew it we had built up a collection of not just Moom-moom, but also Nu-Cumbia, Kuduro, Baile Funk and other Global Bass styles.

I think the point when we realized we were on to something special was when we were DJing at a little club called Graffiti White in the now nonexistent Sol Square entertainment district in Christchurch shortly before the big earthquakes. We were the early DJs on Thursday nights, so without much of an audience we were able to test new tunes fairly easily without too much risk. The night in particular was quite quiet, we’d been playing it safe with Dubstep and Breaks, but with only staff in the club at the time we thought we’d give this crazy Moombahton stuff a spin. Just as we dropped the first tune two Polynesian couples came downstairs and basically dry-humped their way around the club, then left as soon as we switched back to Dubstep. If that’s not a good sign, I don’t know what is.

The GE really blossomed after the February 22nd, 2011 earthquake. We decided to move away from Christchurch for a family sanity break and we ended up in New Plymouth, a small, isolated, oil town on the west coast of the North Island. We arrived with high hopes for the music scene there, but those quickly dwindled and the internet became our audience. I put together the original Ghetto Electric mix series as a concept/demo for a radio show and as a way to keep musically motivated. When we moved back to Christchurch in early 2012, we sent the demos through to RDU98.5FM where I had previously hosted a show and the first real Ghetto Electric Session went to air on the first of March, 2012

EGU- How do the local Christchurch residents respond to these eclectic mixes when you perform live?

Wubz and DG- For the most part we get a really positive reaction from our crowds. What we play on the radio show is different from what we normally play in a club though. We push our crowds as much as we can, but a lot of the sounds are so foreign to our ears here, they don’t always work. We had a monthly gig at a brewery bar for a while, playing background music for the patrons and we could get away with a lot more during those sets, Moombahsoul, Cumbia and Transnational Dubstep always seemed to go well with the slightly older crowd there. We try to use the radio show to build songs, getting people to have the “I know this one” moment, so we can play them in a club environment.

EGU- I noticed you and DangerGirl like a lot of moombahton and nu cumbia. I read as well as speak to many who think these are ‘genres’ that will soon pass and no longer be relevant in the underground. What do you see happening for the future of these genres in New Zealand? And how about their future globally?

Wubz and DG- There’s definitely a growing market for those sounds, particularly the harder end of Moombahton; Moombahcore. It gets exposure in 15 minute bursts from some of the big name Dubstep and D’n’B acts that visit and DangerGirl has played some epic all Moombahton/core sets to packed dance floors. There’s not many people pioneering these genres, but the music scene here is tiny compared to many parts of the world. Hopefully, there’s enough people that enjoy making this stuff to keep it going and to keep DJs like us supplied with tunes.

EGU- Trap is the new force online as we’ve seen on the various blogs including ours here on Generation Bass. How do you feel about these various trap productions? I notice you play trap on the show. How do the local residents respond to trap live? Is trap defined enough to be an independent genre that will continue to stay in the underground mainstream (oxymoron)?

Wubz and DG- Yeah, we dig Trap (but we’re open to most underground styles worldwide), it’s like Dubstep before it got all angry and squeaky. It works much better for our audience than the rest of the styles we play. Christchurch (and New Zealand in general) is very much into hard Dubstep and Drum’n’Bass, Trap is like an upbeat, happy version of that, only with sub-bass. I also think the Hip Hop influences make it more accessible to the average kiwi clubber.

I think Trap already was it’s own genre before it got discovered by the “EDM” (bleugh, I hate that term) scene in the US, but it was probably too ‘street’ for all the rave kids to be popular when it was called Crunk or Dirty South Hip Hop.

EGU- Weekly for each Ghetto Electric Sessions broadcast, how do you prepare for them?

Wubz and DG- That makes the assumption we prepare for the show. In all honesty, there’s not a lot of prep for the show itself. I open the downloads folder and sometimes have a quick run through mix on a Tuesday night. I’d say the most time we put in is finding the music for it, scrolling through Facebook groups and Soundcloud pages in search of those hard to find gems. We’re always keen for some external input for the show and love getting sent exclusives and mixes *hint hint readers*

EGU- The obvious questions most probably would ask (and I shamelessly will join them in the questioning) are, what do you see the future of Ghetto Electric Sessions, as far as personal goals for the show and longevity?

Wubz and DG- The show has already reached and exceeded our hopes for it. We’ve been allowed to do it, which was more than we expected. We get a lot of really positive feedback and have managed to build an international following for it. For us it was a real gamble to dedicate ourselves to this strange music and stick with it while other DJs choose an easier path. You have to keep in mind that NZ only has a population of 4 million and only a small fraction of that will have heard of or appreciate what we play. Christchurch had a population of around 400,000 before the earthquakes and a lot of people have left, so we’re working with a small target market.

Directing the questions to you individually now.

EGU- When did you start DJ’ing?

Wubz- My first set was a school disco in 1994. I had started buying records the year before, the first 12″ I spent money on was David Morales feat Robert Owens- I’ll Be Your Friend. I started out playing House and have played just about every electronic genre since then. I spent 5 years hosting shows on Auckland’s 95bFM station and was with RDU98.5FM for 3 years before the quakes.

DG- Santa got me a set of turntables and a mixer for Christmas when I was 12 and my parents organised some “DJ lessons” with a friend of theirs. I toyed around with it over my teens but it wasn’t really until Wubz and I got Serato back in 2008 that I really got into it.. and I think it was because it was a good way to spend time with Wubz and avoid “DJ widow syndrome” haha. Getting my first recorded mix blogged by Umb in 2010 (a Rusko megamix) was a pretty good ego boost and I’ve really been enjoying playing out since Wubz gave me the shove I needed a few years ago.

EGU- What do you think of the modern Serato and Traktor setups versus CDJ’s and traditional vinyl?

Wubz- I was a turntable purist for a really long time, but in the last couple of years I’ve learnt to embrace the developing technology. I think if you don’t, you miss chances. There would be no way the show would be possible without something like Serato or Traktor….that and you can play a tune that someone on the other side of the world completed only hours ago, rather than wait 6 months for the CD or vinyl (that’s if the tune was ever going to be released).

DG- Vinyl will always have a special place in my heart (and a section of our living-room) but there is no way we would be able to do what we do without Serato, as Wubz mentions above. I never really got into CDJ’s but have learned to use them in combination with SSL so as to be able to use pretty much any set up when we play out..

EGU- What do you think of midi controllers like the APC40, Traktor S series etc, as a DJ setup?

Wubz- I don’t hate on controllerism as much as I did a year or two ago, I think you have to be willing to embrace new technology or you get left behind. I think what defines DJing has shifted hugely in the last few years, the edges have blurred and there’s no right or wrong way to do it any more.

Haha, yeah, every kid with a laptop and a torrent crack of Virtual is a DJ these days. The rise in popularity of electronic music changed the focus from the music to being seen. It has become a cult of personality. Hopefully that bubble pops soon.

The music industry as a whole seems to be in a state of both collapse and expansion. The major companies have yet to work out how to deal with the new approach to music sales that individual artists and the smaller independent labels have created.

DG- Haha, what he said *agrees with Wubz again*.. although I think that there perhaps needs to be a new term for “DJing”, it seems to me that there is more of a culture of “Producers” representing themselves at gigs than just your average “collect and play other peoples music DJ” (like me).. Obviously with the decline of the major record labels I suppose the only way to make money in this industry is by gaining an audience/following online with your tracks, then booking gigs as a “DJ”. I think the “Everyone is a DJ” thing could be said for producing too..

EGU- It’s great to see that in this time of our existence, everyone around the world can be connected to one another much easier than ever before. We can share ideas and music globally with very little difficulty. I see this as a very positive thing. I think it’s incredible that we can speak to each other right now. I also think it’s incredible that you can broadcast a live show from Christchurch and spread it globally. Because of this communication we can understand each other more in a more honest way. Without political intervention spreading propaganda to us, the various corrupt (they’re all corrupt to me, even the idea of government is) governments cannot control what we see, say and hear and therefore know.

With these modern day social networks has your opinions or thoughts changed much about other people in other countries?

Wubz- I don’t think social networking has had a huge influence on the way I think of people or cultures worldwide. I have worked in hospitality my entire adult life and you learn to deal with and understand a wide range of people and lifestyles through the job. It has, however, helped the show immensely. I don’t think the show would exist without it, to be honest. It still amazes me that we can be playing such similar sets to someone based in Spain, or The US, or Europe or anywhere else. It feels like the concept of a global village has become a reality.

DG- I think the only way that it has really changed for me is that it has allowed me to get to know more people from around the world on a more personal level (without having to travel). Especially within the global bass movement, moombahton in particular.

EGU- If in the near future you go on tour or simply just travel, where are the top places you would like to go to perform or even just visit?

Wubz- With a 6 year old and child number 2 due in a few weeks, I don’t see us traveling any time soon. If we did, I’d hope we could arrange gigs nearly anywhere in the world. I’d love to visit southern Spain and play a set in one of the little town squares, Central and South America would be a must, as would some parts of the US.

DG- Yeah, travel isn’t high on the priority list at the moment but we do often talk about where we’d love to go and play if we ever do make it over.. Wubz has listed most of those already :) I’d also love to just go and visit all the places that my family is from (everywhere).

It has been a pleasure getting to know both Wubzilla and DangerGirl these past couple of years. They have a son together and a new baby on the way. I wish their family much good health and prosperity.

Check out Ghetto Electric Sessions live weekly broadcasting live every Thursday night, 6:15ish-8pm (NZ time), from the RDU 98.5FM studio. The direct link is www.rdu.org.nz.

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