Cultura Dura is a Remezcla and Mike’s HARDER content and event series highlighting emerging Latin urban culture. We’ll be exploring scenes that haven’t really gotten any coverage anywhere else – from block parties and street art to underground sports and raw, young artists making movements pa’ la calle.

Gracie Chavez is a force to be reckoned with, having cut her teeth in the music industry as a music editor/ journalist and more recently digging into her career as one of Houston’s ambassadors to new urban tropical sounds as a creator and resident at party series and collective Bombón.

I caught up with Gracie shortly after her Cultura Dura appearance in Houston alongside Chingo Bling, Sines, and Füete Billēte. Read on to learn about what inspired her to enter the DJ world, her return to sonidero classics, trading off with her crew between six turntables, and on perseverance in creating something new.

Nearby Htown? Catch Gracie with her the crew as they celebrate their fourth year in action with an anniversary party on November 1st, along with her fellow Bombón DJs Navó, OG Bobby Trill, and Panchitron, and guests La Comadre Mel with Ilya Janos live on percussion.

Music from ZZK Records really opened up tons of opportunities for me to explore new Latin sounds.

How’d you get your start in music?

After college, I was a music editor/journalist for some local and national music mags, like URB and XLR8R, and got to travel quite a bit to cover stories. Since those stories mainly focused on electronic dance music, it was a natural progression that I start to DJ the white labels and vinyl promos I was acquiring.

I read that you started out DJing drum & bass and house music — what inspired you to steer more toward new Latin sounds?

Maybe restlessness! Ha! Actually it was during a time when I was venturing away from house and experimenting with different sounds and BPMs. I came across Claude Vonstroke’s synthy, filtered accordion version of “Heater.” Having been raised listening to sonideros, the accordion and other Latin elements in that remix were so familiar, but yet so totally new to me. I’d say that track and music from ZZK Records really opened up tons of opportunities for me to explore new Latin sounds and revisit some classics.

https://soundcloud.com/bombonhouston/bombon-mix-vol-1

What inspired you to create Bombón?

Fellow DJs Tonio, OG Bobby Trill, and I had dabbled in playing select Latin-inspired music in our DJ sets. There weren’t many places to play a solid set of cumbia and music in that same vein in Htown. When Navó came along in 2010, we solidified Bombón as a DJ crew and began producing our tropical dance party under the same name.

What’s the community and energy like at your parties?

Htown has responded very favorably to Bombón, attracting a multi-cultural crowd so diverse only a city like ours could offer. Our Bombón parties are very inclusive and highly interactive. We’ve broken down the 4th wall, DJing on six turntables at dancefloor level with La Comadre and our percussionists interacting with party-goers. I think the energy and music really makes you feel part of the experience.

Highlights include bringing in other like-minded Latin acts like Peligrosa, Tormenta Tropical, Que Bajo?, Los Master Plus, Sabo, and Mixpak’s Dubble Dutch.

Who’s a part of the Bombón family that you work with?

The crew has grown from a group of DJs (myself, Navó and OG Bobby Trill) into a collective of talented individuals which include Panchitron (of Santa Muerte), our hostess La Comadre Mel, and percussionists Ilya Janos y Chapy Luna. In the studio, I get to work with el guero Squincy Jones. I also work with Tonio and Shail, who always kill it on design. And Jay Tovar and VDJ Exit on photography and visuals, respectively.

What inspired you to focus on a collaborative aspect for the project?

We didn’t want Bombón to be just another DJ crew playing music for a dancefloor. Besides, the more of us there are, the better for a puro pinche pardi!

Photo by Marco Torres.

What do you love most about DJing?

I love the way music makes you feel. It can be mood and even life altering. When certain sounds resonate with me, I feel a strong connection. When I play these selections, they’re a reflection of what I like and who I am, so I feel a need to express and share how moving they are with the dancefloor.

What’s some advice you’d give to people that want to create a space like Bombón in their communities?

I’d say find your voice, your sound, and then share it with people. I think we went off of instinct and pure passion for the music the first couple of years. We just did what felt right, even when the numbers were low. So, no pares. Sigue! Sigue!