Chilean by birth, Gabriel Riquelme aka DJ Tablu blesses us with a tight hour and a half mix of some mesmerising Afro Latin vibes. Pushed through the German Wadada Records (who we love for their explorations of different sounds), this mix forms part of their regular Wadada Rotations-#11 to be exact.
But calling this a ‘mix’ is misleading. It is more of an immersive journey which begins with the powerful emotive words of the poet Felipe Luciano. With his powerful words echoing in the mind the ‘journey’ launches into trumpets, sonorous Latin vocals and hypnotic percussion flitting through; salsa, merengue, cumbia, bolero and more. It’s a journey which evidently ends too quickly.
Musical journey tell, us about your relationship with music and how (if it did) impact your childhood?
Music was always an integral part of my identity. As a reference point for building my own identity to belong to a scene or community – music was always the key factor of this personal or collective experience. This was true for being Latino and identifying with our music (salsa, merengue, cumbia, bolero, …) at our countless family parties, weddings or birthdays of our clan, or growing up as a hip-hop kid of the late 80’s and early 90’s or realizing the freedom of adolescence in the 90’s house era experiencing all these crazy drugs and collective love moments at situations like the love parade or warehouse joints with lots of vocal house and extasy.
We have looked at your blog and there is a clear powerful relationship with the spoken word-tell us about that and how that interplays with the music you love?
I love real music. Real must not be complex, although it can be. It’s more about real feelings. Truth is simple and direct, in most of the cases. What really touches me besides hip hop is especially jazz and classical music as well as some electronical music. music is the interplay of meaning and silence. Sounds emit emotions on such a direct and undisrupted level that they pass without any frontier direct into our body and into our heart. Great music creates emotions. It’s a physical and spiritual experience. Words instead are almost always passing the border of the mind, so my art as a poet is to create an emotional scape where the mind is send into a field of emotional experience through the combination of meaning. Both music and poetry are like intertangling webs of meaning and emotional experience who create moments of truth.
You also seem to be a social activist (so to speak) we are curious about that side of you and how that might interplay with your musical choices.
I used to work a lot in different political projects, collectives and movements. As a child of a refugee, (half-) foreigner, second-generation kid, you grow up with the notion of being different. Growing older I realized that changing and healing the world is useless if I don’t heal myself first. So, I decided to focus on integrating my social and political awareness into my daily life. so instead of fighting against a culture and a system which tries to rule everything around and inside of us, I started working on my own practice and to create a space where we can create awareness and examples of a different reality. So, I do with booking several artists or how we present them in our venues. Giving my and our musical choices some context and framework is essential on creating a broader awareness. Meaning is always a question of intention and context.
As novices to Afro Latin beats (incorporating all the sub-genres) tells us why it is such a powerful medium and why you love it as a genre?
I love this music besides all these childhood memories of dancing with aunties and grandma, because it grew out of an incredibly horrible and painful diaspora of several generations of slaves and migrants into this unbelievably rich and powerful cultural garden we can experience today. All its music styles have dances we dance, stories we tell and a vast cultural background to play with. It always was about style and representation to create bargaining power for subaltern people, and they achieved these goals with so much creativity, class and power.
The intro by Felipe Luciano-tells us about the emotions and the thoughts behind that choice of introduction to the mix-tape.
I wanted to make clear that the so-called difference between races and nations is non-existent. Nations are just a concept of organizing and controlling physical, terrestrial and human resources in a traditional manner. Luciano is addressing this with so much power and so tender and beautifully in his awesome poem. We are all brothers and sisters of the same mother. All the distinctions are fictional and just serving a system and its structures.
And tell us why you wanted to drop this mix of Afro Latin vibes-we assume it was more than just a wish to put together some tracks?
I think Afro Latin music is incredibly underrated in the digging community. Since several years everybody went crazy on rare jazz, funk or even Brazilian records. Nowadays it is old school souk, highlife or even Arabian funk stuff, but Latin music has such a high diversity of styles with such an incredible complex structure without being too heavy intellectual to be a dancefloor blasting genre. We have more than 100 years of musical history, and there are tunes I spin on salsa parties which are from the late 50ies without being out of time.
Lastly, elaborate about one or two cuts you have chosen on the mix tape and the thought processes behind your choices?
The intro after the poem is a song called, Salute To Eleggua, by Milton Cardona. I dropped this piece because in the prayer session for the Afro Cuban Sanots, the orishas. The first santo you call is eleggua. He opens and closes the ways for the ceremony and the communication with the other orishas. So, this was my intention, to open the path of communication and make this a collective experience, like the ceremonies are as well. I also wanted to bring some love tunes, because one of the main stereotypes is the romantic Latino cliché.
But have you ever thought what might be a big part of the drama in missing the girl and all the suffering of betrayal and all these stories of drinking to forget? In my reading a huge part is the diaspora itself. The loss of the motherland and the loss of roots and culture. This pain was silenced for centuries under the rule of the Spanish conquerors and colonizers. So, one of the ways it found expression was through love songs beautiful and bitter or joyful and groovy.