Once on a cold winter night in Minneapolis, a friend of mine threw a small Christmas party. Beside some friends and his band mates, there were few randoms from off the street. By the end of the night it was a true fiesta; you were either playing the piano, sax, congas, maracas, or dancing in the crowded and toasty warm living room space. Either way, we were friends making music, and the Latin vibe was pulsating down the street, causing snow to melt.
All right, I’m sure you’re wondering where this is going. It’s July – so it’s definitely not Christmas and there’s no snow, and Buenos Aires is in Argentina. I promise I’ll get to that.
Fast forward to last Wednesday. Equip with little more than my small note pad and a pen, my friend and photographer, Dan and I headed out to the Turf Club in St. Paul to experience what we had heard was some of Buenos Aires’ finest upcoming talent. The crew from ZZK Records, which included El G, Chancha Via Circuito, Tremor, El Remolon, and crew, stopped to play the Twin Cities en route to the West Coast during their Northern Hemisphere Summer Tour.
Upon arrival, I found the group of guys chilling out, devouring a couple of hot pizzas, while they reenergized themselves for yet another highly energized performance on their nearly non-stop tour. Grant “El G” Dull, label manager and DJ, and Leonardo of the group Tremor, were kind enough to fill me in on some inside perspectives of their music.
Leonardo described their sound as being inspired by funk rhythms, mixed with electronic. He explained, “The idea behind our music is to combine it with South American folklore, which is part of our legacy. We’re interested in finding new perspective to incorporate new rhythms.”
Each unit of this label has a unique Argentinean sound. Chancha Via Circuito is one of the two producers on the tour. The other producer on tour is El Remolon. El G, as I mentioned before, is the DJ. Tremor is the live band made up of three guys. The tour brings you a showcase of the distinct styles ZZK Records has to offer. Each participant has an expert sense for blending and interpreting their native sounds with danceable, electric beats.
Overall, what I witnessed could be described as Cumbia, mixed with electronic beats, funk, tribal sounds, dancehall, tons of random neon objects, and hallucinogenic substances, boiled in a pot under extreme pressure, causing an awesome, danceable, music explosion known as ZZK.
Midway through the show, I quickly stepped outside for some fresh air, only to overhear my friend Dan telling the guys from Tremor, “Before I came tonight I was thinking, ‘What do Argentineans know about the funk?’ Really?! But then I saw you play, and um yeah, you get the funk! Clearly Argentineans know about the funk!” I was relieved to see in their faces that they seemed to take it as a great compliment.
The energy and vibe built up through the evening as the music continued. As the night came to an end, the whole ZZK party was on the dance floor playing music. There were drums, percussion galore, a melodica, Argentinean tarkas flute, just to name a few. A grand collaboration was taking place. A guy in the audience started pounding out beats with a barstool. Dan somehow found a cowbell and was going to town. Everybody in there joint was playing something, clapping, stomping, or moving and shaking.
Suddenly, I had a flashback to that Christmas party. These guys just passing through had created such an intimate performance that each person became a part of this fantastic experience. It was as if they invited us all into their home, as friends, to throw an exclusive, invitation only party. Then the music ended – it was time to go. Everyone froze in an awkward moment, because unlike the Christmas party, at 2:00 am you had to go. Chancha broke the silence with a cheer, and everyone laughed, as they knew the night was over and they made their way to the door.
If you’re on the West Coast, you must go see this for yourself. Mexico and Europe, I hear you’re next… same advice to you. Say you missed them – well, you lucked out, but you’re not too terribly unlucky; ZZK TV launched on zzkrecords.com Thursday. Check it out to see their crazy adventures of life on the road. Listen to more music on the website. Most importantly, catch them live, they will not disappoint.