Back in November the buena gente of Nrmal invited several international producers to Monterrey, Mexico, to collaborate with living legend old-school musicians from the area. Over the course of an intense, well-fed week, we worked out of jefe Toy Selectah’s studio. Norte Sonoro culminated in a free outdoor festival. There’s so much incredible music coming out of Mexico right now — Monterrey, Tijuana, DF, y más — it was an honor to participate in a project like this.

Who was involved? Along with Toy and the Nrmal crew, there was Algodón Egipcio (Venezuela), Chancha Vía Circuito (Argentina), myself, DJ Rupture (US), Helado Negro (Ecuador/US), Mumdance (UK)and White Rainbow (US). The Mexican artists were Javier Villarreal (Bronco guitarist!, they just played in NYC), Los Cardencheros de Sapioriz, Grupo Esencias and Osvaldo Lizcano con Enlace Vallenato. Today Nrmal released the free EP featuring tracks by all us internationals in conjunction with the various local groups.

Go get it!

We had an all around amazing time there — muy buena onda especially considering that most of the folks involved were meeting each other for the first time. My favorite track from the EP is from Caracas’ soundboy Algodón Egipcio (“Egyptian Cotton”!), who applies his sweet & experimental indie aesthetic to the time-damaged roots vocals of Los Cantantes Cardenches, a trio of septuagenarian cowboys who sing hypnotically heavy acapella songs about stuff like hangovers and dying out in the desert.

There’s more information (in Spanish) on Nrmal’s blog, and here’s an earlier post with behind-the-scenes photos. Below you’ll find a snapshot of Enlace Vallenato and I rehearsing, and a bilingual text I wrote about my participation:

For the Norte Sonoro project, I was invited to Monterrey for a week, to work with several regional musicians, leading up to a free public concert. I paired up with Enlace Vallenato – we decided that for the concert, they would play a short set, then I’d join them for three songs, adding beats, sound FX and scratches, and doing a little live dubbing on the lead accordion. It was a slow crossfade between their bouncy cumbia jams to my solo DJ set.

We rehearsed in Toy Selectah’s studio. Labbing up with Enlace Vallenato, was great – the ‘blind date’ awkwardness quickly melted away and we set about listening, learning how to twist our various musical idioms into something strong. Eduardo Galeano calls music “a language where all languages meet,” and he’s right.

Towards the end of the rehearsal, Enlace Vallenato hit on a low-slung groove that really worked. We’d already figured out the shape of the concert, and Toy was like: “let’s record this! Right now.” So we did. It was amazing to see Toy in action. First off, his studio is magnificent. People talk a lot about how with a cracked copy of FruityLoops you can make incredible music (and it’s true), but seeing Toy at work, recording and directing Enlace Vallenato floored me, reminding me of how important real-world brick & mortar spaces of shared creation are. Toy’s a consummate producer– coaching the musicians, adjusting the recording setup for maximum quality, all the while keeping the vibes right.

Later that night he & I returned to do some editing on the session files, and I took those back with me to Brooklyn for the remix.

The main collaboration between Enlace Vallenato and I happened en vivo at the Norte Sonoro party, so I felt that this remix should flip things and offer a serious departure from their original. I asked Ben Lee aka Baby Copperhead, to add live banjo. I sped things up, brought in several synths playing new melodies developed with Ben. I left in some of the original accordion, and build a new synthed up soundworld around their rock-solid percussion.

“Para el proyecto de Norte Sonoro, me invitaron a Monterrey varios días a trabajar con músicos regionales y a dar un concierto público gratuito. Me emparejé con Enlace Vallenato –decidimos que para el concierto tocarían un set breve, y luego yo me les uniría en el escenario para añadir beats, efectos y escracheos a su set, y también hacer algo de dubbing en vivo sobre el acordeón principal. Fue un buen crossfade entre su fiesta cumbianchera y mi set de DJ.

Ensayamos en el estudio de Toy Selectah. Trabajar con Enlace Vallenato fue fantástico –la dificultad de la “primera cita” se desvaneció rápidamente y nos dedicamos a escuchar y a decidir como íbamos a enredar nuestros idiomas musicales para crear algo sólido. Eduardo Galeano dice que la música es ‘un idioma en donde todos los lenguajes se reúnen’ y tiene toda la razón.

Hacia el fin del ensayo, Enlace Vallenato encontró un ritmo lento que funcionó perfectamente. Ya habíamos determinado la forma del concierto, y Toy dijo: ‘Vamos a grabar esto! Ahora mismo!.’ Y eso hicimos. Es sorprendente ver a Toy en acción. Primero que nada, su estudio es magnífico. La gente habla mucho de cómo con una copia pirata de FruityLoops puedes hacer música increíble (y tienen razón), pero ver a Toy trabajar, grabando y dirigiendo a Enlace Vallenato, me voló la cabeza, y me recordó lo importante que son los espacios creativos físicos hechos de ladrillo y mortero. Toy es un productor consumado- coachea a los músicos, ajusta su equipo para obtener la máxima calidad posible, y siempre tiene buena vibra. Más tarde esa noche él y yo regresamos a editar los archivos de la sesión, y me los llevé a Brooklyn para hacer mi remix.

La colaboración principal entre Enlace Vallenato y yo sucedió en vivo en la fiesta de Norte Sonoro, así que sentí que este remix debería de darle un giro de 180 grados y alejarse de la original. Le pedí a Ben Lee, también conocido como Baby Copperhead, que le agregara algo de banjo en vivo. Aceleré todo y metí varios sintetizadores con melodías que desarrollé con Ben. Dejé algo del acordeón original, y construí un mundo de sonido sintetizado alrededor de sus percusiones impecables.” ―DJ Rupture


As a talisman against the fall-like chill of Brussels, here’s a heater-upper remix I did for Architecture in Helsinki a few years ago. The original is so good, I went all out brought in Mr Lee G on vocal duties:
Architecture in Helsinki Heart It Races (DJ Rupture’s Ital Hymn Mix feat. Mr Lee G) by djrupture

Speaking of Brussels — Belgium has had no government for over a year! Everything seems fine in Brussels, arguably Europe’s most spatially dissonant city. It’s a surreal place.

Tomorrow, Wednesday August 31th, I’ll DJ at ‘une petite fête entre amis’ put on by La8. Info. The next day I’ll make an appearance on Radio Panik 105.4 FM, not sure when, watch the Twitter for that. (Radio Panik is one of a handful of open-eared European radio stations that rebroadcast my WFMU radio show.)



The better a song is, the harder it is to craft a remix that does it justice. And sometimes the best remixes are the lightest — the laziest — at the level of execution.

On the other side: my inbox is increasingly clogged with promo “EPs” built from two original songs with at least four remixes, most of which are mediocre in the exact same way. It’s like the producers and the remixers only feel comfortable expressing one idea, the same idea, an idea they learned from reading blogs, the same blogs. I love music, but I also love silence, and the delete button too.

But back to the good songs.

As I wrote before, “You can think about a song – a good song – as a miraculous moment when all the dissonances that frame a person’s life drop out of sight long enough to see how it looks without them. So when a band you like hits that groove, sometimes all you can do is listen, because that moment will be leaving.”

Here are two such songs with their recent remix/edits. First off, “Jarabi” from the gorgeous Afrocubism album:

[audio: – Jarabi.mp3]

Afrocubism – Jarabi

…which gets a kickkicksnare treatment from Subsuelo, who rebrand their creation “Cinco Pasos.” Five steps. Two bodies. One song which is endless, and nobody we trust wouldn’t dance to it. How can real joy be optional?

[audio: Cinco Pasos.mp3]

Subsuelo – Cinco Pasos

+ + +

For round two, Caribou (as Daphni) takes on Thomas Mapfumo.

Thing about Thomas Mapfumo & The Blacks Unlimited is that they are even better than their name, even better than their album covers. The style is Chimurgenga, which emerged from Mapfumo reconfiguring traditional Shona music for modern niceties such as the electric guitar, back when he was a Rhodesian chicken farmer.

[audio: Shumba.mp3]

Thomas Mapfumo & The Blacks Unlimited – Shumba

How can you remix this — and not be an elephant in the flower garden? You can’t. So Canadian producer Caribou treads lightly. He pitches “Shumba” up a bit. Then he stretches it out to more than twice the original length. The resulting tune is released on a 12″ called ‘Edits‘ (not remixes). Fair enough.


Daphni (Caribou) – Mapfumo

This game — original and edit, version and stretch — could go on all day. It could go on forever. It does. Frictions of power and access and stewardship notwithstanding, it’s one of the the only games we musicians know how to play with each other.


wfud logo

Next Thursday, January 13 is World’s Fair Use Day, “an annual, day-long celebration of fair use, creativity and remix culture.” It goes down in Washington D.C. and is free & open to the public [RSVP to guarantee entrance]. I’m pleased to announce that I’ll be giving a keynote speech, and my talk will also involve 3-turntables and a mixer…

The entire day looks to be truly engaging and energizing – peep the schedule. As one friend phrased it, WFUD is “working hard to get actual media makers into a conference that is likely to be attended mostly by policymakers and lobbyists. It could be a great chance to shape the conversation.”

Things kick off with Kevin Driscoll moderating a panel on ‘Fair Use in HipHop Culture’ featuring Das Racist and Larisa Mann (both have been previous guests on Mudd Up! radio: you can listen back to Larisa + Das Racist). Other talks focus on fair use in the visual arts, video games, and more. Including Lolcat meme-godfather Ben Huh, founder of Can I Haz A Cheezeburger! (see lulz below) and ‘real people’ like Maria Pallante, who runs things at the U.S. government’s Copyright Office.

My question for you D.C.ers — what’s the best Ethiopian/Eritrean food in town?


the next day, January 14th, I’ll be DJing at Holocene in Portland. Details soon…



Luísa Maita comes from São Paulo. She sings with a magic voice. Her recent single ‘Lero Lero’ is “a deconstructed samba about two friends from a ghetto on the outskirts of São Paulo who have each other’s backs whenever trouble arises.” Generally speaking, I don’t like samba. But I love this. You can download it for free.


I reworked ‘Lero Lero’ for the Maita Remixed CD, out next week. It’s a pleasure to step inside songs which are so well-built to begin with. You can stream and pre-order the results.



The Argentine pop theorist in the form of a mashup king, Villa Diamante, has just released Empacho Digital (digital bellyache), a “3-disc mashup album”. Of course it isn’t available on disc – one can only download it. He says:

This is just another one of the tireless efforts of making art out of art, with cultural industries at their height, record companies at their worst moments, and the Web functioning as the maximum tool for informational searches, the freedom of Wi-Fi is already showing its first collateral damages.

Here’s a tune from “disc 2”, Dubsteperismo, Spanish-language vocals atop wubstep.


Villa Diamante – Doña María vs Ital Tek

+ + +

Three years before, Dutchman Dick El Demasiado was in Buenos Aires, making edits of old cumbias.

He called this song “Sabado Cultural”, although his album doesn’t mention the band he is obviously chopping up and sampling, Julieta con los Nuñez. As if they didn’t exist. Remix as reinscription, a more complete kind of erasure – but then there are always folks spotting the source samples. Identifying where the sounds came from transforms the sample from an (anonymous) point into a lineage, in process offering us a chance to listen to the old music that got folded into the new (or the new music that got folded into the new, like when Burial sampled recent songs by Christina Aguilera, David Lynch, and Beyonce).

I especially like hiphop album sample-source compilations — for example the (bootleg) collection of all the original tunes used on J Dilla’s Donuts. A unique window into musical transformation. A fascinating form of bibliography… or memory. DJs as weird historians, accidentally finding themselves in that position after years of ‘just’ looking for music. Julieta seems to have been forgotten except for “Viernes Cultural”, whose memory Dick both effaces and extends.

First, the original:


Julieta con los Nuñez – Viernes Cultural (also called Cumbia de las Sandalias)

then Dick’s “lunatic” edit (his word not mine), renamed here


Julieta con los Nuñez – Viernes Cultural (Dick el Demasaido remix)


[cross-posted to Dutty Artz]


Big thanks to everyone who came out to Fiesta Soot, especially La Yegros & Fela crew. We were so busy with that and recording and whatnot that a bunch of us got sick. Germs, bacteria, cough cough, viral.


JahDan Blakkamoore’s Noble Society & 77Klash get a great cumbiambero refix treatment via La Familia Dub:


The Swarm Zuzuku Cumbia Klash remix

(i posted up the original version awhile back)


I wrote this post a week ago then forgot to push it live. Without further ado:

Cumbia and Auto-Tune – two great tastes that taste great together… It’s from Pesadilla, one of the biggest LA Mexican sonidera groups (their CDs are all over NYC). El Hijo de la Cumbia used to do a lot of production for Pesadilla & remains notorious in the sonidera scene for his forward-thinking beats. El Hijo stopped producing for the big sonidera groups to go solo and will release his debut album on Soot this fall... VERY EXCITING.

more on El Hijo soon, here’s the Pesadilla autotune track:


Pesadilla – Chica Vacilona

shouts to Brooklyn bredren Uproot Andy, who just gifted the internets with his Guacharaca Migration mixtape. Andy missed the ‘Knuck if You Buck remix moratorium’ memo that was sent out last year, but it’s a powerful session nonetheless (BROOKLYN STAND TALL). The tape is filled with Andy’s maximal uptempo remixes of latin & african tunes. This excerpt spans his reworkings of Petrona Martinez “La Vida Vale La Pena” and Noite e Dia Ft. Puto Prata vs Quantic “Mana Dança Só”


Uproot Andy – Guacharaca Migration excerpt



speaking of remix decisions (and burials), here’s a fresh interment from NYC’s Leif.


Burial – Archangel (Leif remix)

Burial remixes must be a kind of cottage industry right now (if u see the Buddha, remixx the Buddha) but I’m drawn to the way Leif attaches a Baltimore-style kick pattern & interweaves new subtleties into the original while keeping the trademark muted clanky feel. Baltimore structure with Burial timbres – so much more interesting than the plain ‘add B-more break’ remix decision! Leif redirects the effete British rave nostalgia-pop (“ambient trance” a friend calls it) of Burial down a sweatier east coast US alley.

The aura of the original remains intact, just displaced. In fact, the remix meshes so closely with the album track that it eats my memory of that ‘first’ version and becomes the definitive one, for me.

speaking of wubstep & What Happens When It Washes Up in Amerika, i’ll be playing NYC’s DubWar on December 21, at this spot called Love that everybody says has the best sound in NYC. Alongside DJ Geko Jones and Jah Dan blessing the mic. We will crush you.


so I was talking with Sonido Martines the other day, and he was upset that a M.I.A. remix he did that gets played alot at Zizek ended up on Diplo’s blog without any mention of Sonido. Here’s a version with metadata intact.

MIA – Paper Planes (Sonido Martines’ Paper Guacharaca remix)

It’s hard to know when the data gets corrupted. You can even think about remix culture as an ongoing exploration of the pleasures of rough data, scrambled bits, a thing’s integrity compromised by dirty outside info (or the impossibility of a thing’s integrity made apparent, take your pick).

But i mostly think of remixes as a series of decisions (even moreso than original music). Taken or not taken. The song already exists, what will you do to change it, and how much change do you need to enact before you can call it yours?

What makes the Sonido Martines remix so radical, in my opinion, is the flagrant simplicity of it: he added a short guacharaca loop to the original… and nothing else. One decision was made. One. The 1-bar loop doesnt even change or drop out, its just there. For the entire song. And, deservedly, he puts his name on it!

It helps, obviously, that Sonido’s decision involves a guacharaca* loop and (critically) not a baltimore-break loop or a disco-electro loop or rap vocal or any of the overrused initial decisions that kids turn to when doing a remix. The cultural context for his remix is foregrounded (loud in the mix, constant, repetitive, inescapable, and, before too long, invisible, inaudible). This is remix as placement, building context – even if you can’t pronounce guacharaca and don’t know what the loping scraping rhythm does in its other manifestations…

Screwed music & cumbias rebajadas (get Sonidos’ screwed cumbia mix for my radio show, thnx 2 WTC) also have that singular decision — slow it down. And honestly, given the wealth of possibilities offered by digital audio software, making a remix that involves only one decision is often a surprisingly lucid declaration of intent / intensity / focus. In this sense DJ Screw and Sonido Martines are philosophical remixers/producers: thinking seriously about one thing, thinking that one thing’s implications through, fully.

*speaking of guacharacas, Jerónimo directed me to this vallenato youtubery featuring incredible guacharaca and accordeon solos.