Yesterday, I read Martin Clark’s Dubstep/Grime column on Pitchfork and he said some poignant things about the whole 130-bpm bubble of music coming out of the UK and abroad. It mostly questioned the idea of a proper music scene, and how in the past, they grew out of a shared sound or attitude (“rudeness”). And I guess the 130, “wot do u call it” scene is an assemblage of people driven not by a “shared sound”, but by the opposite. Fusing the ability to make a sound by not really sounding the same as anyone else in the scene: a sort of hodgepodge of chaotic creativity. And yet, it all sorta gets pinned together as one sound. Very interesting.
Nonetheless, there seems to be even more creative drive being introduced to the bubble that further complicates the discourse (in a good way). It’s another question-mark of sorts when it comes to defining the sound, but at least there’s a common rhythm– but let’s not get down to BPMs. Broad terms traded like the problematic “Tropical Bass” and the umbrella-like “Moombahton” name are sort of carrying the genre onto the global arena. Labels like J-Wow’s Enchufada and Tigerbeat6 are pushing the sound to UK waters, and I got to chat with one of the sound’s producers.
Pacheko is a Latin-American producer, whose name you might recognize if you’ve scanned through some of J-Wow’s (Buraka Som Sistema) mix tracklists. He recently contributed a track with Pocz to Enchufada’s Hard Ass Sessions Vol. 5 alongside producers like Kingdom & (Ghislain) Poirier. The Shockout label just released an EP of his titled “Kosmicare”. I took some time to chat with Pacheko about his sound and what’s next for him.
W: So first off: maybe introduce yourself a little. What’s your real name? Where are you from?
P: My name is Francisco Mejia, I’m from Caracas, Venezuela, and I make music/DJ under the name PACHEKO.
W: How’d you get into this type of music? Who influenced you? And what was sorta the tipping point for you when making this kind of music?
P: Venezuelan producers like Cardopusher and Jimmy Flamante were a big influence for me in 2004 – 2006, to see them make so much music, and constantly challenging themselves for new sounds. Each track was better than the last one and to see them hustle so hard was a big inspiration. So that’s when I realized I wanted to become an electronic music producer, and to make as much music as I could on and on. I started with IDM and Dubstep, but a turning point was probably when I started to make music with Pocz in 2009. Soon after we realized that we wanted to make a more tropical type of sound, somehow in between our Latin American influences and all the bass music we were into from the UK, Europe and the states. This is becoming more evident on our more recent tracks but also in older tracks like Zarbak.
W: How important do you think it is to make music that represents, in some way, where you came from?
P: It’s an exciting challenge to make something original. To be able to combine things I’ve been growing up with (like merengue, changa, reggaeton, etc) with the new bass music I’m feeling these days. It’s the path for me right now.
W: Your earlier stuff seemed to linger more on dubstep territory, while the newer stuff seems to be more 125-130 bpm housy vibes. What led to this evolution in sound? And do you think it’s important to not pigeonhole yourself as a producer that plays a specific type of music?
P: I like exploring a sound and then moving on somewhere else combining what I learned with new shit. I think that challenges make music production exciting, and I see that in a lot of my favorite producers as well. Some other people are just happy in one territory and repeating a formula, and you gotta respect that as well, but it’s just not my case, you know?
W: You just released an EP called Kosmicare. What label released it? What can you tell me about the name of it and what you were going for with the EP?
P: KOSMICARE is the name of a tent at the Boom Festival in Portugal where you can go if you are having a bad trip. There you would find some experts that would help you recover and get yourself back together. I think it’s a great thing to have at any party and that’s where the title came from. A sort of tribute to that tent. These tracks on the EP were made soon after coming back from that festival. At that moment I realized that I wanted to make party tracks and I wanted them to sound different, I definitely wanted to change my sound here. I think the EP combines kuduro, bass and acid house with a tropical Venezuelan flavour. Oh, and It came out on Shockout, a Tigerbeat6 sublabel.
W: You have a song with Pocz on the most current Hard Ass Sessions compilation, alongside Kindgom and Poirier. How’d that whole thing happen? How’d you hook up w/ Enchufada? And what’s the idea behind Hard Ass Sessions, which is going on its 5th release?
P: We shared our Zarbak video with J.WOW and he loved it, and started spinning the track at clubs. Then Buraka Som Sistema dropped it on their Mishka podcast and J.Wow asked us for more music. That’s when we sent him Tuki Love fresh out of the oven and it got signed for Hard Ass 5 soon after!. It’s a great honor for us to be part of that fucking amazing kick ass EP series. I was a fan of those releases and I still am. Always nice surprises in them.
W: What kinda music is really popular right now in Caracas with younger people? And older people? I feel like I hear a lot of Cumbia influences in your music. Is that fair to say?
P: Wow, well, Venezuela is a big melting pot of influences from everywhere, because we’re right in the Caribbean coast so there is tambores (african drums) and also reggae and calypso, and soca, but there’s also Colombia right next to us, so there’s a lot of cumbia and “champeta” which is hugely popular in the barrios at the moment, but then Brazil is also really close, you know? Not to mention that a big part of the population comes from European post-WWII immigrants, so the European influence is still huge today. And, of course, the US influence is big as well, so Venezuela is all of the above and more. At the moment: Champeta, Reggaeton and everything Changa sounding has the lead. Changa is a venezuelan slang word for anything 4×4 and housy-sounding. Venezuelan people usually like the party vibes in music, regardless the genre.
W: It sounds like Caracas, and Latin America in general, is probably the most exciting it’s ever been, musically, for producers making the kind of music you’re making.
P: Well, musically, it is very exciting if you are open to everything– if you are open to changa, and to reggaeton, and to merengue and all those things. If you are not into those things, then it can be a bit frustrating because there are very few interesting acts visiting the country these days. The only way we get to see the DJs and producers we like is to bring them ourselves to our nights, otherwise, nobody is visiting the country, you know?
W: And how much of your music draws from the what’s played in Caracas?
P: Well, we host a night called Abstractor and we do it 2 times a month at a club called Barrabar. It’s a small club with an indoor mini dancefloor and an outdoor chill out area, it holds around 200 – 300 people max. And it’s a very nice vibe. Even if there are only 100 people there. And at this night people just want to come and dance, you know?
About half of the people are really into the music we make and promote, the other half have no clue about it… so the key is to keep the energy up all night. We usually start with some UK garage, or bass house or funky, and we build up from there to moombathon, harder bass house, then kuduro, changa tuki, and keep it high and up there for a while. And then late at night it gets really crazy with merengue, reggaeton and even salsa. So I think that right now our nights are shaping the way we make our own music completely.
W: Sounds like you guys have a strong, niche community of people digging the type of music you make, as well as the UK stuff.
P: Well, I think we have a small but strong group of people following our nights at the moment, after 1 year with Abstractor there is a bunch of people who are really supportive right now and have gone to almost every event, and we are very thankful for it!. The vibe of the night helps, you know? Because it’s a dance all-night-long thing.
W: Have you ever thought of moving? To the UK possibly, where there’s more bass-leaning music?
P: Yeah and I’m actually planning on it. Hopefully by the end of the year I’ll be moving to Barcelona. I don’t think it will be a definite thing, but it’s definitely something I’ve wanted to do for a while. I need to see more live acts, more DJ sets, more music, different people from different parts of the world. Venezuela has turned to an isolated place apart from the rest of the world in recent years due to really fucked up political and social problems that I really dont want to get into at the moment (laughs). Not to mention we might have the highest crime & murder rate in the world and the highest inflation rate in the Americas for 10 years in a row.
W: Have you toured? What’s your favorite city to play at if you have? And why?
P: I haven’t toured much yet, but I’ve played in several cities in Venezuela, and i’ve done a couple of mini Europe Tours. I’ve had a great time playing in Barcelona at the B.LOW night, cuz the vibe is really cool and there are some great dj’s like Cardopusher, Nehuen and Mr Gasparov just to name a few. And my first non-venezuelan gig ever was at Manchester and it was fucking great. I’ll never forget that.
W: What’s next for you at the moment, release-wise and touring-wise?
P: I have some music ready to come out anytime: A couple of tracks with MC JUAKALI from Dub War – NYC, Im really happy about collaborating with him because he’s really good. I’m also working on a Tuki – Kuduro EP for Enchufada with Pocz, that will be really special for sure– a very “venezuelan” release. Got some remixes on the way as well. And I would like to start working on a new Pacheko EP very soon. Regarding tours, I hope to play in Mexico and Brazil this year, and to do my first mini US Tour! Can’t wait!
W: And you’re giving us a zip file of free music! Tell us a bit about it.
P: Well, the zip file has an image – cover thing, and a pdf with the info.
It’s basically 11 tracks of free downloads from 2008, 2009 and 2010. Most of them have been given away in other blogs and times, but there are about 3 new free downloads: Fog sports, Flipside and Acid Food. But they are tracks from late 2009 really. They just never got released, and almost nobody has them. There’s also some deeper dubstep tunes there, some more moombathon-moombachore tracks, a couple of kuduro, funky-bass tracks and some other crazyness (laughs). But I’m happy to put a bunch of free downloads together, it’s like a B-side bootleg Zip Release!
Download: Pachekizmo Vol 1