Riobamba’s New Label Highlights History & Context in Latin American Club Music

Lead Photo: Photo by Guarionex Rodriguez, Jr.
Photo by Guarionex Rodriguez, Jr.
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In a musical event worthy of the Gospels, Riobamba has launched APOCALIPSIS, a new label showcasing Latin American and diasporic sounds.

The Brooklyn-based artist, a member of the Dutty Artz collective and resident of tropi-club night Que Bajo?!, and, on any given weekend, a DJ at every NYC party worth attending, is adding yet another item to her already lengthy CV.

Part label, part A&R, part production company, APOCALIPSIS sets its ambitions fairly high – and understandably so.

“It’s really important to me that people are able to tell their own stories,” said Riobamba (aka Sara Skolnick) in an interview with Remezcla. “I want to build the infrastructure for that to the best of my ability, and then get out of the way.”

Skolnick is certainly reacting to an evolving landscape, one in which the very notion of what it means to be a Latinx artist is rapidly shifting. “I’m so glad to see less and less segmentation of Latinx/diaspora artists & crews from club music dialogue simply because of their locality, language, references, and all of implicit assumptions from those things,” she added.

The label’s first release will be an EP titled Anta, courtesy of Ecuadorian producer amaF alaM, with whom Skolnick felt an immediate affinity. “I was floored by his SoundCloud,” she said. “He has a really particular approach to working with regional samples while still being in dialogue with this reggaetón/urbano moment, but it also has a grime-inspired feels.”

This kind of responsible sampling is emblematic of APOCALIPSIS’ vision, which emphasizes the importance of artist accreditation. As Riobamba explains, “He’s [amaF alaM] very thoughtful about working directly with the folks he samples and knowing the histories behind the music and language.”

As Latin American and diasporic sounds are increasingly pushed into the spotlight outside of the region, the question of fair representation becomes key. Amidst the noise, it’s easy to lose sight of where the sounds come from.

“For me, the process of cultural production is just as important as the final product,” said Skolnick. “History and context are everything.”

The label’s first EP is due out in late November. Ahead of its launch, Skolnick has released a haunting bruja reggaeton edit of one its tracks, titled “Hecho/Hechizo.”

Editor’s note: Sara Skolnick is a former Remezcla employee and current contributor.