The Nu LatAm Sound
Dancing in the Sun with Animal Chuki
Inside underground Peruvian discothèques, a duo known as Animal Chuki forms part of that sound inherent to the Latin American flavor and groove that they carry in their blood. In a hot room filled with rhythmic music that sweats clean and crisp jungle water, a thick atmosphere is enjoyed by a transnational youth that smokes porritos (herb) and dances. Later in the night, they walk out into the urban streets to eat anticuchos, heart of cattle, seasoned with special flavors, and drink chicha morada, a rich punch made from purple corn. Grant C. Dull, aka El G, has been developing this Nu LatAm Sound at ZZK Records in neighboring Buenos Aires, Argentina, for the past five years.
When understanding the Nu LatAm Sound, El G believes “It is essential to look at what’s going on in modern-day Peru. Undergoing a sort of digital renaissance, the country’s rich tradition of cumbias and folklore are being transformed by the newer generations with all the splendor and psychedelia that made Peru a focal point of new sounds in [the] 60s, 70s and 80s.”
Andrea Campos was inspired on bus rides from her home in San Isidro to the Universidad de Lima. Campos says, “A nanny in my house influenced me into listening to Peruvian music like Pintura Roja and Anita Santibañes. As I got older, I jumped to electronic music by Diplo and Daft Punk. Through Animal Chuki, I am trying to relay a spiritual message through this combination.” Upon graduating with a degree in communications, Campos began to work by day at an advertising agency, DDB/Fahrenheit, and at night she developed the second half of Animal Chuki. Now, at age 23, Campos develops the integrated graphics of the duo and helps to explore the cocktail of folk and electronic dance music that has become the signature sound of the band.
Daniel Valle-Riestra, also 23, works in sound design for all types of audiovisual projects from his home in La Molina miles from the city. A mellow but focused musician, Valle-Riestra developed a following on SoundCloud and was asked by El G to produce a remix for the Argentine artist, La Yegros. Valle-Riestra says, “I am constantly searching for methods to make my living through my passion for music. Since working in office environments has not allowed me to grow as a person, I try to dedicate all my time and energy to music. When I heard La Yegros’ voice, I knew I wanted to join this effort.”
El G, a dandy and bon vivant, met with the group in Lima recently to discuss their future. They spoke at length in local cevicherías over chicharrón de pescado mixto, leche de tigre, helado de lúcuma and tuna sours. El G says that, “Tropical bass and digital cumbia seem to be sweeping the city of Lima right now. It is a community robust with exceptional music, food and libation.” He continues, “In Miraflores, we walked at night past ancient Incan huacas snuggled against modern lofts on quiet tree-lined streets. The coastline at Barranco and the Olivar Park in San Isidro are some of the nicest natural spots I’ve enjoyed in all of Latin America.”
Peru is just a part of the story. Ondatrópica and Quantic in Colombia are playing their part. Other members of The Nu LatAm Sound include La Yegros, Chancha via Circuito, Miss Bolivia, King Coya, El Remolón, Meridian Brothers, Frikstailers, Tremor, Bomba Estereo, Fauna, Super Guachin, Largatijeando and Douster. El G has been so inspired by the movement’s camaraderie that he is producing a series for television and a documentary film to document the era. Hashtagged as #TNLS (The Nu LatAm Sound), El G is collaborating with creatives and investors to bring the project to film festivals worldwide.
Film Trailer: http://zzkrecords.com/thenulatamsound/
In the foreword of Ted Mallon’s The Journey Toward Masterful Philanthropy, Jungian Bernice Hill writes, “I think of Ted’s journey as similar to that of Quechuan shamans in Peru. These brave souls, called alto misayogs, feel they have been ordered by the gods to go into the mountains to encounter lightning. If they are struck by this intense electrical energy and survive, they believe they have undergone a profound initiation. They return with certain powers, having communed with the gods. They bear, however, some essential message for the life and transformation of their community.”
When I listen to Animal Chuki in the Intelatin sound studio in southern California, I don’t stop to question whether alto misayogs exist or whether they chase lightning. I simply see them in my mind, returning home to the Andes and playing Animal Chuki while they dance in the sun.
An Intelatin sampler of #TNLS: http://bit.ly/1nHxEWG
Fall 2014, Volume XIV, Number 1
Sergio C. Muñoz is a Mexican artist working in the surf culture of southern California at Intelatin. His latest project is called Gamma Rae in the Americas. It is crafted for the benefit of DACA Dreamers in the USA. Twitter: @Intelatin
Peru has been one of the most remarkable economic growth stories of the last decade, both compared to its own historic record and to its peers in Latin America and beyond. A combination of sound macroeconomic policies since the mid-1990s and a benevolent international economic environment with growing demand for Peru’s natural resources has allowed the country to prosper.
Each one of us has a grandmother or mother, grandfather or father whose dish—humble or elaborate—transports us back in time or space, surrounds us with people, places, images, languages, and even fragrances of the past. The dish—or the memory of the dish—evokes a smile, or perhaps a tear, and generally seems inimitable by those who share the memory.
The year was 1993. My wife Barbara and I had just arrived in Lima, with the intention of working there for two or three years. I had a job in a USAID project, while my wife was part of a World Bank planning group in the Ministry of Education. Peru was just recovering from staggering blows, both economic and political.