I can’t say it often enough: what global bass and electronic music in general needs is live music. Live MC’s and vocalists, but especially bands, bands and more bands!
The idea that electronic music is made by invisible producers and performed by DJ’s (preferrably by people who can or at least pretend they can do both) is an institutionalised product of the club era. We grew up with the idea that there are three kingdoms of music: bandmusic (rock, metal, latin etc.), pre-recorded, live performed by a vocalist/MC (‘urban’ genres like hiphop, dancehall and reggaeton) and electronic dance music, starring producer-DJ’s. This seems an unchangable fact of nature and crossovers seem to be the exceptions that confirm the rule. In combination with the megalomania of the conteporary EDM industry you get absurdities like producers who need to prentend being DJs by performing a prerecorded set of their own tracks. And worse, the other way around, where DJ’s who don’t necessarily have producing talent, release other people’s music under their own name. I believe this situation has reached a dead-end.
True, many rappers or RnB singers have worked and performed extensively with a live band behind them, or have collaborated with already famous bands. Collaborations between EDM DJ’s-producers with hiphop & RnB vocalists has been a mainstream pop-formula ever since David Guetta & Akon. And yes, there are electronic music acts who perform in a band-setting, like The Prodigy or Depech mode are still famous. But most of those acts stem from a time when the formula for electronic music as we know it now hadn’t crystallised yet. In a world after EDM, one of the main things to do therefore is trying different formula’s by combining different things.
This is an area where ‘global bass’ has a lot to win but also a lot to offer already. Especially in Latin America, most music, from Mexican and Argentinian cumbia and champeta, to more mainstream genres like bachata and even a lot of popular reggaeton, involves live-band elements that can freely be combined with both electronic influences and MCs.
I picked some bands, with vastly different styles and sounds, that show how such a post-EDM global bass can move beyond the limits of the DJ-producer club formula.
A band which I wanted to blog as soon as possible anyway is the Berlin based electronic AfroLatin-funk band Checkpoint Guanabana. We featured them more than a year ago already when their former single came out. Now they are back with a fantastic new single Merecumbe, which is a unique, almost unlikely fusion of funky Latin percussion, melodic guitars and the Berlinesque groove of deep techno.
If you dig their sound, you should definitely check out the band Pimentón from Buenos Aires, who also deliver a laidback combination of funky Latin grooves, catchy melodies and deep flavoured electronica!
Mamba, duo of DJ-producer Reptilian Commander and vocalist Pe Pa, also from Buenos Aires, has been celebrated on Generation Bass as an example for the future of transnational electronic music for more than a year now. It is not a live band yet, but for this energetic live performance they added percussionist Don Plok and it is easy to see how flexible different live elements can be combined.
Ghetto Kids are one of the leading acts of the innovative melting pot that is Mexico City’s music scene. Their drummer always jams live to all kinds of global bass beats like moombahton, cumbia, kuduro and here, to trap-bubbling with Ookay!
One of my all-time personal favourite electronic bands is the N.A.A.F.I.-signed Mexican ruidosón formation Los Macuanos. Ruidosón, 3ball’s dark, experimental cousin, already had its moment somewhat before I entered the global bass scene two years ago, so I didn’t become interested in them until I stumbled upon this Boiler Room performance exactly a year ago.
Immediately when I clicked ‘play’, I knew that these guys truly are on to something that opens huge possibilities for the future of music. Los Macuanos aren’t just another latin band spiced up with a DJ adding some electronic bleeps here and there, or a DJ with a live percussionist. The way they create their music in a live jam makes them closer to the experimental electronic bands from the pre-club era than to conventional bands as we know them.
Another genre where live and electronic elements are widely fused is electrofolk. The Chilean band Matanza is probably the best known act, who represent the genre all over the world.
But there are more examples, most of which will be familiar to Generation Bass readers, such as El Remolón…
…or, the Dutch Afro-Caribbean electrofolk band Kuenta i Tambú!
Tunche Soundsystem from Hamburg, who performed on our own party Esperanza in Berlin, make the perfect bridge between Latin electrofolk on the one hand and genres like reggae, dub and reggaeton on the other hand. Check out this excellent video-portrait!
A genre that we blog less often but whith equally promising chances for live + electronic fusion is tarraxo’s mellow, RnB-flavoured cousin kizomba. Electronic bass influences are becoming a big thing in kizomba so big chance you’ll see it more often on the blog in the near future. For now, check out the multi-talented musician P. Lowe, whose live Saxo-kizomba sessions will give you goosebumps every time you listen it!