Slamming club sounds from Medellin.
"Even in times of struggle, with a right-wing government and completely crazy fee requests from international DJs and so on, Colombia has built a very interesting scene." This is Julianna, the DJ behind this week's RA podcast, talking about the great health of her country's dance music scene. She's well-placed to comment: Julianna has been an active member of the electronic music community in Medellín for the past ten years. She's become known as a versatile selector whose sound is rooted in house, techno and electro, although she always seems to leave room for surprising left turns. Julianna recently embarked on her first European tour, stopping by ://about blank in Berlin and Concrete in Paris, and she was a resident DJ at Mansion Club, the Medellín venue that, until it closed recently, was a hotspot for electronic music in Latin America. Until November of last year, she'd also been co-running a record shop, Doce, next door to Mansion. "Buying records from this part of the world is for heroes," she tells us, explaining that South American customers often pay three times the going rate for imported records.
The venture may have ultimately been too ambitious, but this kind of proactivity seems to be a theme for Julianna. For the past couple years, she's been working on Nótt, an activism and community engagement project that aims to tackle machismo and gender inequality. The group runs workshops on a range of educational themes, and has an overall aim to create a Latin America-wide support network for women in electronic music. These types of community connections are also evident in Move, the 13-person collective and soon-to-be record label Julianna is part of alongside local artists such as Merino, Retrograde Youth and Lust Attraction. A couple of the crew's members feature on Julianna's RA podcast, which presents the slamming sound she's been brewing in Medellín. The mix is representative of a DJ and a scene that are both experiencing an exciting moment.
What have you been up to recently?
Well, this year has been one of the best for me so far. Finally had the chance to be playing records outside my country and also really cool things have been happening to my main projects, Move and Nótt. We are working a lot on some new and fresh stuff for both crews. Also have been working on a special concert for radios and headphones I'll present during Auditum Fest in Medellín.
How and where was the mix recorded?
This mix was recorded with two CDJ-2000 and a DJM-800 connected to my Tascam DR-07 Mk II. Unfortunately, I don't have DJ equipment at home, so what I used to do before was to record my mixes at Mansion Club, the club where I was resident until they closed this year. For this time my friends from Calle 9+1 opened their doors for me and let me use the empty club to record it.
Could you tell us about the idea behind the mix?
To be honest when I got the request for this mix I felt so overwhelmed. I don't like to record mixes, I feel they cut your real vibe and sometimes it's not the best reference of the true power of yourself. So, with that idea in mind, I treated this mix a bit like a gig but with a special focus on some of my favourite producers from Medellín and Latin America. It's an honour to have this chance, but to be honest probably a lot of the things that are happening to me now couldn't be possible without my crew and friends that have been working with me a lot for this scene. It was a challenge to find the way to mix them in one hour with the music I usually play in a club. All of them have a little line in common, but also some distance in sound, so it was very interesting to find a way to do it in one take.
We've heard that the electronic music scene in Colombia is in pretty good health right now. What's your view?
I completely agree! Even in times of struggle, with a right-wing government and completely crazy fee requests from international DJs and so on, Colombia has built a very interesting scene, not only as a really energetic place to play, but the level of producers around the country is something that I feel really proud of.
Probably ten years ago we couldn't speak about our artists traveling and doing records for great record labels located in other parts of the world. Now thanks to globalization, the passion of the work from different artists, promoters and big local festivals, our scene has more attention. We can finally speak about a sound made here and a shape of artists and movements that are making an imprint in Latin America. I hope we can keep working on this, but unfortunately we depend a lot on our social economic situation; we have three times less the exchange rate of the Euro, for example, so sometimes we have to think really wisely in order to do a booking or to create an experience with music.
Tell us about your work with Nótt.
Nótt was born two years ago with Marea and Andrea Arias with an idea that was resonating around our community. We were tired of what was happening in our country. As many of you may know, the idea of the "macho" is something really common in the Latin American landscape, and this idea entered very deep to many levels of professions and homes. Latin America is the most violent region for woman (at least 12 femicides per day!) so now you can imagine how hard it is for a woman to be free in her sexuality, ideas and beliefs.
We found that a lot of women wanted to learn about electronic music but they were afraid to do it, they didn't have enough spots in local festivals and parties. The first step was to start creating a database of different women who are working in sound, production and other things in our electronic landscape, in order to create a network not just in Colombia, but Latin America in general. We started to do workshops "for dummies": how to make visuals, how to do a remix in Ableton Live or some other more elaborate ones, like our latest workshop to create a DIY oscillator. It has been really fun but also hard work, so we are really happy working on this.
What happened with Doce?
Well unfortunately we closed Doce last November with a special Red Light Radio transmission in the shop. Buying records from this part of the world is for heroes, to be honest! Three times the real price, you have to wait a long time for them to arrive (one month if you are lucky) and also there's not enough properly set up venues to play with turntables. The store couldn't resist more, and Merino and I decided to shift the focus to ourselves as artists and to our main project, Move.
It's been almost five years now since we started the collective and now with the guys we want to go a step forward as a record label. In Move we are like 13 people, all of us with a special love and taste for music. We grew together as friends and artists, and did a small statement in our city. We want to keep pushing things forward!
What are you up to next?
Next step is Move's anniversary on August 13th, and we are also working on our first release (which is absolutely beautiful) and will be finally out by the end of the year. I'm also working on Nótt's anniversary on September 8th and focused on my next European tour in September as well. Looking so much forward!