Peligrosa All-Stars, a collective of Latin DJs based in Austin, emerged in 2007 during a simpler time when Latin music had different conceptions in the global music market. For those who don’t know, Peligrosa not only became a staple in Austin’s lively music scene, but played a fundamental role in revolutionizing what Latin music means in today in an international spectrum. Made up of DJs, producers, and visual artists, the now 8-piece collective dedicated themselves to the “music of diaspora.” They’re noted for revamping Latin America’s folkloric music (cumbia, salsa, merengue, porros, gaitas, etc.), weaving it with electronic, hip hop, among other beats, even adding some kuduro, tropical bass, and moombahton. All in all, each of them incorporates their own unique ingredient to create a new sound, which has set a platform for an avalanche of DJs and producers that were bound to follow. No less, the folks throw some of the wickedest parties out there know to party rockers and guarantee your ass for a good time.
So as is, a couple of weeks ago, I invited Peligrosa’s founder Orión and King Louie to the Remezcla office to converse with them about the intersection between traditional Latin music with the mainstream, “las peligrosas” who inspired this collective, and the rituals involved to ignite the fire of a Peligrosa party. This is the new cool, and dangerous (you’ll see why by reading further), Latin music.
What brings you guys to NYC?
King Louie: Main reason is because we’re playing Moombahton Massive in D.C. Being so close from New York, I decided to hustle here. I got to play on Friday at Tender Trap with Gold Whistle, and then this past Saturday at East Village Radio with Orión. DJ Juliana wasn’t there but it still went really well. It was a blast.
So how’s life in Austin? What’s the rhythm that you guys have there right now?
Orión: Steady. We’re playing every week, more than once a week in different places. Still trying to find the best stop to play in Austin. It’s still like college rock, it is a country town but you know. The few people that throw parties that are ahead of the curve — as opposed to riding the wave of popularity — are few and far between, but, we all kind of stick together. So there’s still plenty of music, new DJs, and producers coming through. We’re just trying to keep a steady flow and not try to step on each other’s toes as far as booking shows the same night.
KL: But that happens a lot. We’ve been kind of bouncing through the South, New Orleans, Miami, and then Europe for about a month. After Europe, I forgot everything. I was just having so much fun that when I got back home, I was like, “Fuck, I haven’t booked myself for anything!” So I really got on the hustle and I’ve been crazy busy since. Friday before I came here, I played a boat party, then a restaurant, and then another party…
MY WHOLE THING IS EDUCATING MYSELF ON THE CURRENT STATE OF LATIN MUSIC
AND ITS PAST — TRYING TO PUSH IT FORWARD INTO THE FUTURE,
ALL AT THE SAME TIME.
Besides being based in Austin, what attracted you to the scene there? And, what made you guys come together as a collective?
O: Pretty much that we’re all Latino and that we all have an interest in playing Latin music. That’s the root of it. Everybody in the crew can play anything else, but they also really enjoy playing Latin music.
KL: Or, we can integrate Latin music with anything else, ya know?
O: There are one or two people who aren’t in the Peligrosa crew who do that, but the majority of DJs just haven’t taken the time to learn about it really. Learn the intricacies, such as the differences between a cumbia-ton mixtape and a cumbia from Colombia. Even if they’re playing cumbia, they really don’t know. My whole thing is educating myself on the current state of Latin music and its past — trying to push it forward into the future, all at the same time. That’s my perspective and everyone has their own little idea of what they want to be doing, but we have a commonality and that’s the Party Peligrosa. These cats have been steady producing the last year. Cats like Sonora was producing before he started DJing, he’s good at both. Some of the cats don’t produce at all. We also got a couple of guys that don’t DJ, like a photographer. The overall goal is to promulgate the Latino sound. When I moved to Austin, the only exposure to anything Latino was Tejano music and it was blasting out of cantinas.
KL: We still like hip hop and electronic music. I think Peligrosa is definitely integrating everything that we know, but also playing around with every other genre. There are no boundaries.
O: It wasn’t so cold cut. It’s not like you like Tejano and don’t like hip hop or Latino music, or even that you like everything. It’s about building a crowd that appreciates this stuff. That’s what I wanted to make more evident.
How did you select the people that are involved in Peligrosa?
It came naturally. That’s one thing I’m very attentive about. Keeping it natural. We haven’t tried to sell anything or tell a story that’s not ours. Hobo D was a digger. He still is a digger to a certain extent, buying 45s. He brought the funkier side, the Boogaloo. Trey [Manolo Black] was one of the first ones. He started playing Brazilian music; samba and baile funk. It made sense to include him in the Latin stuff we were doing. El Dusty [DJ Dus] brought the hip hop side, and the Mexican cumbia. This guy [King Louie] brought the harder bass and the dance club stuff. Sonora brought his own stuff, his interpretation of all the other stuff. It’s all grown super naturally. There’s never too much of anything.
We just have to be represented properly in certain show when we travel. Like Chingo Bling was at Puerto Rico Tropical, he’s mad genius. He’s an entrepreneur, we really respect him and he really respects us. We’re trying to collaborate with him. But like I said, it’s growing naturally. Sonora has done a bunch of remixes for him, and El Dusty and King Louie produced one of his tracks.
KL: Yeah we have a plan to initiate him, get him like a big Peligrosa chain and bling him out. Maybe we’ll jump him in.
O: Not really. I get on everybody’s ass mainly because I’m a purist. When I play by myself I mix it up a lot. When I play with these guys I strictly play older stuff and let them play the newer stuff. For every couple of songs, I need there to be a salsa that’s not remixed and let someone else throw a beat on top of it. Weave in and out of things, but not in a competitive manner. That’s the last thing I want to do with Peligrosa is make it competitive in any form. There’s no need to compete within ourselves. If anything, we’re competing with the establishment that’s saying, “you can play at my club but I want you to play top 40s,” against the mainstream, but not even in a competitive way. I would never incorporate anything artistic with a competitive nature. It’s just not what I want to do with it. The majority of DJs that I know that throw parties also do beat and producer battles. For me, art isn’t competitive.
KL: We’ll do a Tormenta Tropical Peligrosa or Que Bajo! Peligrosa but it’s never like “vs.” We realized that Peligrosa is already bigger than all of us, bigger than Orion, bigger than King Louie. It’s its own.
O: We’re all winners. If we can continue to push the sound and educate people on Latin Music then we’re all winners.
In your perspective, has Austin’s community of this progressive Latin culture been more evident since the collective emerged?
KL: I like it cause it’s now all Latin music. There’s still the “let’s go listen to Ozomatli” crowd. There’s more of a new wave now. I’m trying to not be this straightforward Latin/Salsa traditionalist. I definitely integrate that too, but I’m coming in with “I want bass, I want synthesizers, and I want the cumbia”
O: Folkore Cumbass. When I moved there, it was mostly Mexican. Now, you see people from Guatemala, Venezuela, Panama, etc.
Do you guys prefer to DJ sober or fucked up?
O: I like to start sober… but [laughs]
KL: Yeah…no… yeah. You kinda have to. There’s never been one Peligrosa where I’m sober all throughout the night. Ever. It’s just that party. Everybody is in there ready to get real fucked up.
EVERYBODY [WHO’S AT OUR SHOWS] IS IN THERE READY TO GET REAL FUCKED UP.
And you guys go along with the audience’s vibe.
O: If anything we’re pushing them.
KL: And that’s the thing. They see us taking shots and they see us dancing and that makes them want to do that.
O: That’s true for any party really. You can’t just throw a party and be there with your head down.
KL: You have to have fun, really. I once heard a Switch interview where this guy said, “Make it loud enough so that people can’t talk. Play only like two minutes of it so people don’t get bored, and just have fun.”
What’s the craziest situation or thing that you guys have experienced at your parties?
O: Umm…the shit that we don’t remember.
KL: I could swear I got roofied once. But maybe not, maybe I got that fucked up. I heard I blacked out and when I woke up, they [venue bookers] were like, “You can’t play here anymore.” This has only happened once in ten years. I’ve been DJing and supposedly I would play a song and leave, and the song would end…and I was supposed to play hip hop, but instead I was playing super hard electronic music. I don’t know what happened. That was just that one night. Every other night it’s been like, “It was fun, I got wasted but I never lost control.”
O: I’m a professional drinker. I can drink with the best of them, I can smoke with the best of them, and I will not lose control with what is at hand.
Do you guys have some sort of a ritual before you start a set?
O + KL: Yeah, like a shot. [laugh]
O: Just set up, get everything sound checked, go to the bar, get a shot. That’s real.
KL: You know how you see the big stars, they all get in a circle and go like, “Thank you lord Jesus please thank you.” Hell no, we take shots.
O: Pay homage to the God Mezcal.
Orion, about a year ago I asked you who is the peligrosa, and you said it’s all the women that you love, that they’re the Peligrosas. What makes them dangerous?
O: They’re heartbreakers. Mom and sisters, they’re just fucking badasses. Grandma had 13 kids!
KL: You could interpret it as deep as that. Or you can interpret it like that girl who’s at that party who is dancing super hot. That’s a bad bitch. Everybody’s watching her.
O: We’re trying not to be crass, but I mean people still interpret it that way. I wouldn’t be who I am if it weren’t for my mother and my sister and my father for that matter. Latin America is very patriarchal. I recognized that at a very young age. Despite the patriarch, what really runs and keeps Latinos together are the women. The matriarch. The mothers and sisters and daughters. They do everything, they don’t complain, they do it well, they have a straight head on their shoulders, they educate their children and their friends and keep everything ethical while the men are like out cheating on their wives. There are good men out there. My father is proof. But for a long time men got away with a lot of shit just because they were the man. So it’s kind of a homage, an appreciation, a thank you to the women in my life. Yeah, but not too many people know that, they just think it’s a party.
If you guys had the opportunity to time travel anywhere in the world and throw a Peligrosa party, where and when would it be?
O: I would like to go mad into the future. Play that.
KL: Go to Palenke.
O: Palenke with the Picó…1930s. Yeah, go to an indigenous crowd and show them what is the future.
KL: And they’re gonna be like “Yo, that’s cool they’re still using a lot of our roots.” They’re actually going to say “that’s dope.”
What’s one thing that you guys haven’t tried that you really want to?
O: It would be nice to have a Peligrosa cruise liner and start at the gulf of Mexico, and go to, DR, Puerto Rico, Barranquilla… All the way through South America, get to LA, then get on a plane and go to Europe.
KL: My goal is just to travel the world while DJing. This is why I’m doing it, to travel, eat, and play music. He’s just saying it in a crazier way. Something I’ve been wanting to do is play at Moombahton Massive [in DC]. I’ve heard really good things about it, the club. Friday [8/17], we’re starting a new venue, Red Seven in Austin.
Anything else before we wrap up?
O + KL: Thank you remezcla! Shout out at Andew for not being here. You guys are always supporting, that’s always good. Get that Remezcla Texas office going!