Peru’s Dengue Dengue Dengue Discuss their “Serpiente Dorada” EP, Lokumba, and the Global Bass Scene

Image via Dengue Dengue Dengue on Facebook / VJ Sixta
Image via Dengue Dengue Dengue on Facebook / VJ Sixta

Lima, Peru is even further away from Lisbon, Portugal than Lisbon, Portugal is from Washington, DC. However, if you were to put Lima’s Dengue Dengue Dengue, Lisbon’s Buraka Som Sistema and Washington, DC-area native Dave Nada into a room, their shared love of mid-tempo global bass would be readily apparent. Serpiente Dorada is the Enchufada Records-released EP from Dengue Dengue Dengue (Peruvian duo Felipe Salmón and Rafael Pereiralatest), and the South American master craftsmen of psychedelic cumbia showcase their inimitable style in that realm, and as well introduce lokumba, their own take on zouk bass (much as zouk bass was Buraka’s take on moombahton). Six tracks long, it’s a deliberate and mystical trip into the heart of cumbia, ultimately defining how progressions in global bass are defined as much defined by tempo as by vibe. Thick, heavy and minimal on the lokumba side, while deep, expansive and techno-inspired within the pocket of cumbia, it has possibly set the pace for global bass in 2014. I had the opportunity to interview duo member Felipe Salmón in regards to Dengue Dengue Dengue’s inspirations, Peru as a scene and the global bass scene overall. Enjoy!

Prior to getting influenced by cumbia and psychedelic sounds, what where the songs, sounds and styles that started your journey into music overall?
Cumbia has been always in our daily soundtrack..Besides that, I think we both agree that the 90′s/2000′s movement of independent electronic music, labels like Warp, Planet Mu, Skam, Morr, among others. Before that, I (Felipe) used to play in a couple of punk rock bands.

Globally, various Latin and South American derived percussion styles are very popular these days. Your thoughts about hearing what those who are non-natives are doing with these sounds? As well, related to that what led you to wanting to do a release with Enchufada?
It’s very interesting to find Latin inspired projects outside of Latin America, but the roots of everything are really African music. Cumbia for example is a rhythm that was born in Colombia inside the African communities. Everything is trans-cultured, so it’s not strange to us to hear other interpretations that have much in common with what we are doing. Enchufada is one of those labels that are exploring with African and tropical styles so for us is a perfect platform outside Latin America to expand our horizons. We are honored to be a part of it.

I know that JSTJR just left Lima, and reported back that he had an amazing time. What is the Peruvian scene like? Is there a mainstream? What’s happening on the underground? What are the styles (and producers) currently dominating both scenes?
Yeah! we did a party with him a couple of weeks ago, it went great! We play JSTJR tracks in our set so the people was already familiarized with his style. We are also part of an audiovisual collective called “Colectivo Auxiliar” with which we make a Tropical Bass party called “TOMA!” every two months. We always bring projects from different parts of the world to perform together with local ones like Elegante y La Imperial, Qechuaboi, Animal Chuki among others. Our party is one example of the tropical bass scene, that is in the middle between the underground and a more mainstream party vibe. But really the mainstream here is dominated by American Pop-Rock/Electro scene, and Tropical Pop. Oh and there’s an ’80s music infestation in the radios. There’s also and underground dance music scene that is quite massive, mostly house and techno.

You recently toured America. How did you like your recent tour, and what were some of the highlights insofar as US audiences responding to your unique style? America’s (again) slowly opening up to more progressive interpretations of dance. so I was just wondering how it all went?
It went good, we only went to Miami and New York but both gigs were great. There weren’t many people but the ones who made it had a really good time. The majority of the crowd was Latin American. We also had people interested in taking us to Washington, DC and Boston, so next time maybe we’ll go there too.

The Serpiente Dorada EP is crazy! The connectivity between cumbia and zouk bass, plus the reggae and techno vibes are truly next level. When hearing zouk bass, what gave you those inspirations to head in those directions with the style? As well, if you could speak on what you feel makes cumbia a magical genre when played up against the styles dominating EDM at the moment?
Thanx! The inspiration came when we heard the Boiler Room Lisboa set from Buraka Som Sistema, we instantly made a parallel between what we were doing at the time and zouk bass. Then we adapted it with our own flavour, and thats the way Lokumba was created. Cumbia works well mixed with other styles because of the cadence it shares with dub, and also its easy to dance so its the perfect party music.

Who and what are the inspirations moving ahead? Who’s making the music that you enjoy the most right now, and how are those sounds being pulled into anything new that you’re making?
Right now we are working on releasing a compilation for our label Auxiliar. Chancha Via Circuito, El Buho, Clap Clap!, among others, are some of the featuring artists and also our main influences in the present.