In 2009, there was ‘Gilles Peterson Presents Havana Cultura’ folowed by a remix album. After that ‘The Search Continues’ (2011) and then ‘Mala In Cuba’ (2012). Now we have ‘Havana Cultura Mix – The Soundclash’, a compilation of collaborations between Cuban vocalists/musicians and unsigned artists from all over the world.
All projects have brought musical exchanges to Cuba — with its illustrious yet traditional music scene — a nation where rhythms (salsa, rumba) exist as the lifeblood of its people; where access to new music is limited, barely any broadband internet service and decent home studio technology is rarely affordable. Despite this, Havana boasts a solid homegrown hip-hop scene and vibrant nightlife ruled by reggaeton, with house, techno, EDM, dubstep, trap and moombahton breaking through.
Besides, cultural exchanges are the essence of electronic music. Cuban rhythms (especially Afro-Cubano) trace back to the heart of dance music — from disco through to Chicago house and beyond — and cross-pollination is what keeps it moving forward, so what’s wrong with bringing electronic music to a nation that in a way helped birth it.
This is what ‘Havana Cultura Mix – The Soundclash’ is all about. After sifting through hundreds of entries to a remix competition, 10 artists from all over the world (UK, Germany, Hungary, Holland, South Africa, Russia, Switzerland, Chile and Cuba) were selected by Gilles and his Brownswood production partner Simbad to travel to Cuba to work in the studio with hand-picked singers, rappers, percussionists, brass and key players to put together an album.
The result is 12 tracks that not only shine a spotlight on electronic artists to watch, but showcase untouched talent within a tropical, vibrant place such as Cuba; a rare window into a charming country with a slow economy characterised by rum, vintage cars and cigars.
In combining these two worlds — the preservation of Cuba and the innovative realm of electronic music — Gilles, Havana Cultura and their artists not only twist traditional forms to create something new, they give musical evolution a little nudge forward in the process.
Havana Cultura Mix – The Soundclash! is released on Brownswood Recordings on the 27th October 2014.
Rukyaia Russell – Ritmo Sensorial Feat. Los Niches (Havana Cultura Mix)
U Knew Before Feat. Daymé Arocena- Raumskaya (Havana Cultura Mix)
Chillum Trio Feat. Coki & Yeni – Yemaya (Havana Cultura Mix)