Producer Paul Marmota has lived the last several years in the clubs and studios of Mexico City, but originally comes from Chile, a unique music landscape with high levels of techno and hip hop spread throughout its underground music communities.
Obviously, he’s not the only Chilean creative to start a life in a different country. Hector Llanquín, video artist and producer of the 2010-era dystopic audiovisual project Megajoy is another such transplant, one who has since set up in New York City, co-founded party collective Mega City with a cast of mostly Latin American expats, and is now bringing hype DJs and producers from their home cities in Mexico and Chile to NYC.
For its most recent incarnation, Mega City flew up Mexico City reggaeton matriarch Rosa Pistola for her US debut. But on March 18, as announced in a video flyer designed by Llanquín featuring a misty, dystopic megalopolis, it will be Marmota’s turn to headline Mega City supported by Juliana Huxtable, Walter Pearce and party regular MISTERVACATION. Of course, superlative Latin American performers make regular appearances in NYC nightlife. But it is more rare to find a party that is fully organized by Latinx artists, from the booker to the flyer designer to the party hosts.
To celebrate, we asked Marmota to give us a list of top performers and producers from his home country. He came through with six projects from diverse eras that say a lot about the Santiago scene — and if you read between the lines, are vital for an understanding of Marmota’s own development as an artist. Fans will be able to check in on the continuing process with the drop of Marmota’s 11 track album Adaptación, which is set to come out in April through London’s Lit City Trax.
Once upon a time, Santiago had its very own J. Dilla. Geoslide aka Carlos Felipe Rojas Leiva created experimental, electro hip hop, obsessed with the search for a jazz-smooth new sound that had him crate digging and cutting up tracks years before radio rap caught on. Unfortunately, forward-thinking beats were not the only factor he shared with Detroit’s Jay Dee — Geoslide also died before his time, in a tragic accident on New Year’s Day 2010. But the founder of the popular Beats Collective parties, which Geoslide started along with Santiago personality Zifras, is far from forgotten. The producer’s remixes and graphic design landed him on the likes of lifted Chilean lyricist Ana Tijoux’s projects. His legacy lives in tracks he produced for some of the other artists on Marmota’s list, including the warbling, lo fi “i griega” with Bronko Yotte and “Dame Ritmo,” a dreamy canvas he provided for Zonora Point’s hip hop aerobics.
Ever since the release of the King Douster produced “Huachita Rica” remix, this hip hop duo has been leading cross genre fusion, laughing at traditionalists with releases like 2015’s trap reggaeton blend Neon mixtape. Marmota’s been in the ZP movement for a minute — check the clicks and blips of his 2012 production “Polvo” to learn what happens when ZP group members Camileazy and Jamez Manuel get in the studio with a sound wizard. Last year’s haunting “Malena” continues the collaboration between Marmota and Manuel (who has also made the move to CDMX), proof that Marmota thrives on the kind of studio freedom that working with ZP members provides. Zonora Point is a showcase for the kind of originality that Chilean artists bring to the table in the music industry, both sonically and visually — the duo have long been invested in innovative graphic representation of their art. Check the clip for “Titulares,” another Douster linkup, for an example of this commitment to raising the bar on local hip hop aesthetics.
Producer and sound engineer Tytokush represents the best of Chile’s exploding trap scene, a newcomer on a list from Marmota that features many of Santiago’s more veteran artists. Kush, aka Hector Gutierrez has the touch when it comes to creeping, hard-landing sounds, making him a favorite for the genre’s new guard who frequently employ his ominous beat structures as the framework for their hustle narratives. What they find in Tytokush is a talent for rhythms that locate their words firmly within trap’s cold embrace, yet come through sparsely enough that emcees get the chance to shine on their own tracks. The Tytokush produced “Everyday” with rapper Slim J is a good touchstone for Gutierrez’s stylings, and his “música Tytokush” drop opens the bulk of C.A.S.O.’s Young Lennon mixtape as well as tracks by Tane, Yao Squad, Big Angelo, and Young Cister. Last year’s collaboration “Working” with Cease, Ea$y Kid and Lil Bro provides a more cybernetic version of the producer’s vision of Santiago’s trap future.
This is a producer who keeps his personal details on lock — Resla’s Soundcloud profile photo features a faceless, GORE-TEX clad form, not a whole lot of clues towards the background of one of Marmota’s favorite Chilean producers. But fans of Resla’s devastating dembow club burner “Cucurrucu” don’t care about his relative anonymity at all, preferring to thrash to Resla’s talent for a drawing out a track’s most hype moment for so long that it becomes the track itself. Staycore founder Dinamarca tapped the producer for his post apocalyptic Holy EP on “Religion,” an appropriate song for the crushing, leveling EP that fits church bells between static riffs and ungodly roars. “Pressure,” a team up with the Tepic, Mexico based producer Spaceseeds, is another Resla thrasher, ripping through the X Files theme song (or a similar extraterrestrial sample) to build a Caribbean-inflected banger that will sound at home on dance floors across the globe.
If you want to learn about the globalization of culture, you could definitely do worse than talk to a South American in the music industry. The international cooptation of sound and flattening of regional variation was the inspiration behind Megajoy, the discordant Dance Dance Revolution audiovisual project dreamed up by Hector Llanquín. As Llanquín puts it on the hallucinogenic Megajoy website, the project is a response to “the gradual reduction of cultural diversity to a financial and international system, without regulation and borders, that reduces diverse worlds to one world.” Megajoy’s sound and accompanying visuals are an effective expression of the fight that many Latin American artists face in holding onto the reigns of the genres they developed. Marmota’s shout out here to the relatively older project makes sense — not only are the same issues important in 2017, but we also have Llanquín to thank for Mega City’s twisted, Blade Runner meets hellfire baby digital optics in his role as the party collective’s art director.
It took this rapper until his late thirties to dedicate himself to music full time, and even then he didn’t go willingly into the pro rap game. Students at the English immersion school he taught at found his videos and the school’s director asked that Bronko Yotte aka Felipe Berríos Miranda edit himself out of his own clips, or leave his job. So maybe he didn’t have much choice in the matter, but judging from Marmota’s endorsement and the success of latest albums like Gala, it was all for the best. Passing on the trend towards all trap everything in Chile, Berríos makes funk-toned hip hop, soulful beats that betray a longstanding infatuation with music — the piano that drives “Otro Lo Tiene” off of 2014’s Con Eso Te Digo Todo, and it’s proven to be a popular formula in his country. Maybe that commitment to melody has to do with heritage — Bronko’s dad was in folkloric group Santiago Cuartro.