Mixing Latin and electronic music at this point is not like discovering America. We already know about that. What’s difficult is for it to sound original, and that’s exactly what Dengue Dengue Dengue do. This duo from Lima (Peru) released the album La Alianza Profana to prove it: an explosion of dub, cumbia and techno intertwined with 70s psychedelia. We spoke with Felipe and Rafael coinciding with their visit to Sonar and their performance on the Red Bull Music. And they removed their masks, yes.
Obvious question to start: where does your name come from?
Felipe: In Lima, when you don’t want to go out, a friend comes home suddenly and encourages you to go out, and that’s when you start feeling like doing so. We say something like ?you’ve got the dengue?.
Nadia: The three of us live together and our living room is presided by an album by Enrique Lynch called Dengue, Dengue, Dengue. The lyrics appear on the cover.
Dengue Dengue Dengue is relatively new to this side of the Atlantic, how was the project?
Rafa: Felipe and I started working on different projects eight years ago. Some time ago we went on vacation to Argentina and saw people making dance music with tropical rhythms. Upon returning we decided that was what we wanted to do. We found the house where we live now and there we are still…
Who does what in Dengue, Dengue, Dengue?
N: Dengue’s proposal aims to cover as many senses as possible. I’m responsible for the visual part. There is a lot of fluor colours in our performances, as in a shamanic journey, and that’s why we put wear masks, because they give instant color. We don’t want the typical DJ show, but something more sensorial.
F: We want the lack of music take you to a unique state of trance. Rafa and I are in charge of working on the tracks, although he’s more into everything related to the band and I’m more into studio issues. Then everything mixes onstage with Nadia’s visuals.
A: On the stage Felipe and I switch roles every two songs, so it’s 50-50.
Why the masks?
A: We used to have another project and it was a great way to differentiate. They also serve to show the playful side of our new music. They are an item that helps represent festivities our way.
During years folklore was avoided because it was considered old fashioned, but now many bands are going back to it. What is this?
F: The first thing I’ve heard based on folklore, though reinvented, was Mr. Coconut. Then came the scene created by Argentina’s ZZK Records, which promoted this kind of music for clubs. co music and not show. Now dancing at the disco, that’s the difference.
N: We are finally recovering our musical identity.
R: In the USA there’s a kind of hip hop influenced by funk and R&B. Here, during many years, we tried to imitate them without much success. Now we are at last recovering our own influences with very good results. This is what sets us apart from the rest and we should exploit that. N: Por fin estamos recuperando nuestra identidad musical.
This is music inspired by the South American folklore but you are touring worldwide. In fact, after the release of La Alianza Profana, a German label put it out in Europe. Is your best understood in a particular country or area or do you think it’s universal?
F: Everywhere we go there is a small scene that understands what we do, so we feel welcome wherever we go.
N: In Latin America we were born with cumbia and so it’s very easy to be understood. The good news is that Europe is much more cosmopolitan and people here are more used to different things. In fact, if we suddenly add Hindu rhythms, Europeans understand that better than they do in Lima.
Can you tell me some important traditional bands from Lima?
F: We organize parties called Toma with tropical and electronic music. Over the past few months, we have invited some legendary bands we love. For example Los Mirlos and Los Wemblers, who still retain the original line-up. Our young audience understands this and like the fusion of these shows with the electronic music we play later as DJs.
What are you working on now?
F: We are working on the second album, due out later this year, an exploration of Afro-Peruvian music.
Your favourite hotspot?
F: Barraca, a neighbourhood. We love everything that happens there. There are many independent companies co-producing parties that are really worth it.
You can’t stop listening to? Marco Passarani, one of the halves of Tiger&Woods. He performed yesterday at the Red Bull Music Academy BBQ alongside Tessela. We also love this DJ from Lima called Sietecatorce.
N: Trash TV You never thought you’d end up?
F: Taking off my shirt onstage in front of people.
R: Dancing like crazy on the stage in front of many people.
*Photos © Cecilia Díaz Betz