from Derek, GMBA Marketing intern at ZZK Records
Here I am - back from the dead basically. After 4 weeks, 3 prescriptions, and more visits to the hospital than I ever thought possible, I have recovered from an illness that knocked me out for the better part of the last month. Somehow or another a group of parasites colonized my digestive tract and waged a war with my wellness. They fought some tough battles, even defeating Cipro, but my weapons of Tinidazole and Mebendazole were no match for those buggers and ultimately I emerged as the victor. Suckers.
So where was I? As I recall, I spent some time in my last post describing the global music industry, particularly the challenges majors are facing and how the industry is changing because of the internet. Now I'll talk about our label, ZZK Records, and our presence here in Buenos Aires. In a later post I'll endeavor to show you how we fit into the global picture.
First a little bit of history. Back in 2004 a nightclub fire devastated Buenos Aires nightlife when more than 150 people were killed by a pyrotechnical malfunction at a local nightclub. Worse even than the fire in Providence (RI) a year before, which many of you probably remember. The city responded by shutting down most nightspots and putting up "No Dancing" signs. Underground music scenes fizzled away. Tango lived on, but little else.
Not deterred, musicophiles found ways to keep their passions alive - among them Grant Dull (an American expat), Guillermo Canale (aka DJ Nim), and Diego Bulacio (aka Villa Diamante) - by hosting parties in "unofficial" venues throughout town. At a warehouse-like, almost abandoned-looking club in San Telmo, Zizek Club was born. They took cumbia, a centuries-old genre with origins on the Colombian coast, and redefined it by mixing it with electronic rhythms.
"People have been messing around with cumbia and electronic beats for quite some time. Zizek gave a platform, audience and spotlight for all these sounds to become heard. The dance floor was our laboratory, the internet our megaphone," described Grant in a National Geographic interview.
As I said, cumbia had been around for a few hundred years, but it's taken on many personalities throughout its history. It's spread throughout all of Latin America and each country from Mexico to Argentina has added it's own spice to give it a unique flavor. In the 90s, Argentina's most popular variety was "cumbia villera," or cumbia from the slums, and had the sort of reputation that gangsta rap had in the US. It was a fringe music, generally sneered at by the well-to-do.
Zizek brought cumbia to its next iteration, and by combining its traditional roots with very contemporary sounds, cumbia became music worthy of the dancefloor. Porteños responded positively and the Buenos Aires scene started to attract a lot of attention. In 2008, Zizek "broke out" when it released its first compilation ZZK Sound Vol. 1 and suddenly music lovers around the globe became interested in what these Argentines were doing.
Zizek's popularity in Buenos Aires grew and the parties live on in "official" venues. Thousands come out each month to engage in some sweaty dancing, like tomorrow night when we're rounding off July at Niceto Club. But the popularity has extended far beyond the city limits. ZZK parties fill up venues from Berlin to Brooklyn and musicians from all corners are wanting to incorporate a little bit of Buenos Aires into their own work.
ZZK's gone global - but those details are for next time.