After wrapping up my interview with Brian Piñeyro (aka DJ Python – or DJ Xanax, DJ Wey, or Luis, depending on whom you ask) over beer and tacos at South Williamsburg’s ever-prophetically named spot México 2000, he offers me a ride home. I set my voice recorder down between the car seats to grab some last snippets while our conversation winds down, and he mentions that he’s always wanted to make a music video where the only shot is of two people talking in the front seats of a car. No plot to speak of, really; just capturing the regular dips and flows of conversation. In this case, the soundtrack is La Mega 97.9, with a late-night rotation of bachata, Ozuna, and your regularly programmed DJ Khaled interludes.
Later, while listening to the recording of our conversation, I notice that he asked me as many questions as I asked him, if not more. Much like our bar mates at México 2000, our talk meandered, covering his current, go-to accessory choice of a fanny pack that is large enough to fit a laptop (the fit is “kangaroo emulation,” in his own words), to seeing Steve Aoki in a Miami bar at the tender age of 18, to his father’s love for Latin pop and “Despacito” (he was the one who put Piñeyro onto the hit in its earliest stages).
Piñeyro, coming from an Ecuadorian and Argentine family, notes that his parents are generally supportive of his career choices, though they do have some concerns about his lifestyle after watching a documentary about the late DJ AM, who died of a drug overdose in 2009. He assures them that with his “deep reggaetón” notoriety (the self-coined tag being an intentional critique of genre-making), he will “never be as famous as DJ AM and they’ll never have to worry about [him] running in the same scenes.”
Piñeyro spent his formative years in Miami after relocating there at the age of 13 with his family. His chimerically hazy sound (and the corresponding multiple producer personalities) is evocative of his experience between cultures and interests. He describes his time growing up in Miami as a series of contrasts; he went out with cousins to clubs and house parties, hearing electroclash, hip-hop, reggaetón, and Miami bass, but also spent a significant amount of time in solitude, getting high, listening to ambient music, and sifting through Blogspot pages for music.
“I feel because of having immigrant parents, but being white and always having this weird confusion of how I can express my Latinx identity in a certain way – I know it’s something I’ve struggled to pinpoint how to do that,” he mentions. “I think music is something that brings people together; and it’s a means to bring the parts of me together.”
Piñeyro’s latest output as DJ Python is Dulce Compañia, out on Anthony Naples’ imprint Incienso. The collection is a nod to this place-making, and also another example of Piñeyro embracing his multifaceted self, rather than giving into the pressure to brand himself with one particular expression. As much as he’s dedicated to his explorations of techno, house, breakbeat, ambient, and beyond, Piñeyro didn’t want a narrative that suggested he was still finding his voice every time he decided to traverse new sonic territory.
“I think music is something that brings people together; and it’s a means to bring the parts of me together.”
Dulce Compañia is inspired not only by more obvious relationships like his years in Miami, but also by the sample lineages that form the connective tissue between reggaetón and dembow, and more recent experimental club iterations that play with the history of these signifiers – a set he caught by Santa Muerte at SXSW being one example of note. “The way they present these samples, it’s in a really dry way; they cut it up and switch it fast, but you can also tell who they are really quickly when you hear them play.” Similarly, Piñeyro doesn’t stake a purist claim to any one camp, though many of his samples come from “pretty low bitrate YouTube rips” before transforming into non-linear, ambient labyrinths that toy with layering and several dimensions of references, the antithesis of reggaetón’s usually rigid song structure. It’s chimerical, By calling his music “deep reggaetón,” he’s intentional about drawing attention to the origins and inspiration for his music, while avoiding co-optation of urbano culture.
Much like the infinite spatiality in Piñeyro’s tracks, it’s also his vulnerability in conversation that leaves opportunities for points of connection open. Until we embrace and share these grey areas – the layered parts of our ourselves – we can’t call the people who see themselves represented by those same elements forward. Rather than resisting human nature’s tendency to label or compartmentalize humans, Piñeyro sees this disposition in a more hopeful light. “People try to identify [labels] because they want to find a place where people are similar to them and they can feel accepted as well.” Beyond being labeled as immigrant, or Ecuadorian, or Argentine, or American, or all of the other signifiers that can be deciphered, Piñeyro hopes that we all can “find people that accept you for your actions, your feelings, for who you are.”
DJ Python plays algonside Riobamba and Santa Muerte at Remezcla’s Día de Muertos party on Thursday, November 2. To RSVP, click here.