If you’ve been following Remezcla for minute, by now you’ve most likely caught wind of the Austin-based Peligrosa collective. For more than seven years, they’ve held down a steady rotation of parties merging tradition and forward-thinking club sounds, as well as a steady output of releases from crew members Orion, Sonora, King Louie, and Manolo Black.
Peligrosa celebrated a major moment this week by launching their Discos Peligrosa imprint. The first release brings us La Remolacha, a 14-track album from Miami-born, Medellín-raised artist Kiko Villamizar– an ambitious take on huapongo, cumbia, salsa, reggae, and dub that puts Afro-Colombian rhythms at the forefront.
I spoke with label boss Orion, who we’ve known for years now as a producer, DJ, and head of the collective. Orión spoke to his inspiration for creating Discos Peligrosa, of exploring ways to self-sustain through his craft, the importance of caring for oral traditions through songwriting, and future plans for the imprint.
What inspired you to create Discos Peligrosa?
For a long time, I have wanted a label but only now am I prepared for one (or so I believe). It’s the next stepping stone in my ever-changing long term plan to delve into many different arts. It also satiates my desire to continue working with individuals who aspire to participate in a shared space without borders. It will mean more work for everybody hopefully.
Why was it important for you to evolve Peligrosa from a party/crew to a record label?
I think there’s many different professions that allow for varying degrees of expression, one being the curation of music for live events, the other, the curation of music for the purposes of distributing records. With the parties I get to describe the intention behind the music by booking different artists. The same applies to the record label only now my range is much larger and the results last longer.
Do you feel like this multi-pronged approach to music is part of the new method of artists self-sustaining themselves?
I definitely don’t think being self-sustaining is new. In fact, I like to take my cues from days of yore when the blacksmith was the baker, farmer, father, and merchant. It takes ethics and dedication and selflessness to do the kind of work I want to be doing.
“The whole album is original, and [is] heavily influenced by migration and tradition.”
I think there’s an artistry to entrepreneurship. Commerce and Art must interact– sometimes poorly, but in order to remain self-sustaining, you have to have that conversation.
For the Peligrosa fans that know the crew as working with a bass-heavy sound, Kiko Villamizar isn’t what you’d expect for the first release. Why did you decide to work with this artist in particular?
For the Peligrosa fans that know the crew as bass-heavy, I’d introduce them to the Peligrosa fans that know the crew as traditional. At our parties at home we go all over the place. Usually early in the night we’ll start with more traditional musics and ease into heavier stuff through out. I guess that’s the most direct correlation to release Kiko Villamizar’s album first. Start out with traditional vibes. The whole album is original, and [is] heavily influenced by migration and tradition.
How did you meet Kiko? How much has he been involved in the process of launching the label?
Kiko and I have been friends for some time. We were once roommates in a house full of musicians in Austin. We’ll leave it at that. He came to me with a fully recorded album that he wanted my opinion on. I loved it so I asked him if I could release it on this label I’m starting, he said yes, and here we go.
“When I asked Kiko why he wrote this album, he literally said ‘to leave something for my daughter.'”
How do you hope the label can be a force for continuing oral traditions via songwriting? Why is it important to tell these stories of roots/immigration/diaspora identities?
I feel like this first record is doing exactly that, caring [for] these oral traditions. In fact, when I asked Kiko why he wrote this album, he literally said “to leave something for my daughter.” Spoken in the morbid truth tone he often adorns, but brutally honest nonetheless. Kiko could answer on the importance better than I [could], but I think at this point with the label I wanted to start by presenting someone who is very mindful. La Remolacha is not linear and neither is he, nor I for that matter. It speaks to the part of Peligrosa that fights with its past.
Do you feel like this emphasis extends from your own personal history?
If anything, the desire to start the label extends more from my entrepreneurial inquiry. Which, I suppose, IS part of my personal history. As far as I can tell I’ve always been like this. I’ve also recently become more proactive with masonry, photography, and cement work. I have the hankerings for tinkerings.
How has Peligrosa become a home for celebrating these types of histories?
Just being a basic gathering filled with people of similar intrigue I suppose. We play music from our old homes and from our new homes, and every now and again someone from the crowd gets to go back home. We share in those moments together and that’s what makes it part of our history. It’s up to the individual to make it part of theirs.
What can we expect from future releases?
The next release is a compilation between Houston’s fabulous Bombón crew and Austin’s Peligrosa crew. Beyond that I shan’t say anything except that I’m enjoying listening to music with this new ear.