PICÓ PICANTE

NAIROBI TO BOSTON: BIG BEAR DEBUTS AT PICÓ ¡¡TONIGHT!!

Sara SkolnickComment
bigbear2.jpg

Name: Brian "Big Bear" Karanja a.k.a. "sexual chocolate" a.k.a. "first bodi."

Age: 25.

Where are you from? Nairobi y Boston.

What inspired you to start DJing? 

I was inspired to start DJing mostly by my older sister and her DJ friends. She took me to a couple house parties and held some as well (shhh don't tell our parents) and during these parties I noticed how important music was to the vibes. Whoever controlled the music controlled the vibes; it's a big job and comes with big responsibility. Being a teenager in a room full of twenty-somethings I looked up to, I wanted that responsibility.

How do you think that sense of family factors into your work as a DJ now?

A sense of community greatly factors into my DJing now. I almost feel naked DJing an event without someone or some people I feel close too in the crowd or in the booth with me. It puts me at ease and helps me have a point of focus because I play to them if I don't feel comfortable with the new crowd yet.

Tell me about your work strengthening the cultural scene of the African diaspora in Boston– what has this looked like for you?

My work building the cultural scene of African diaspora was very limited because my knowledge of our home was limited to Kenya. But the older I got, the more I did research on other places other than Kenya, [so] the more effective I was. I worked with couple college-based African organizations to provide music and sound for their cultural events. 

My goal through doing this work is to show people in Boston how much of cultural powerhouse Boston's African diaspora is. We are a very much untapped part of the city but very present.

Tell me a bit about your Anti-Hibernation tour last year in Kenya.

My experience during my tour was one of pure love and excitement from start to finish...the best way to describe it is to is compare it to seeing a friend or lover you haven't seen in months or years and picking up right where you left off. The city was very open to changes in my style of DJing from the last time I was there, but also wanted my classic sets that I was known for during my past time there. I loved to see the city respond to new styles of music that I was discovering. 

The Wave/CLLCTV have been holding it down with some of the best parties in the city– how did this come together?

CLLCTV Boston came together purely out of observation and frustration, Boston or even the whole of Mass has been at a crossroads for the past decade. It's constant revolving door of youth is leaving the state and city in a very stagnant place. We saw our peers constantly looking outwards for an appealing post-graduate life. This was because Boston was not viewed as appealing culturally, compared to cities like New York City or Los Angeles. In an effort to change that we created The Wave Boston.

The Wave Boston is our effort to centralize the city's young post grad generation and bring them together to get to know each other, make new friends, and then show them the different culturally significant events in the city.

Just as you draw connections between music throughout history in your sets, what are a few tracks that you'd say represent your own personal history?

 

1. Kanye West- "Homecoming."

I literally listened to this the first time I flew back to Kenya. It always plucks at the heart strings. 

 

2. Nneka- "Soul is Heavy." 

Although this song is mainly about Nneka's views of Nigeria's struggles as a nation, they can be translated to reflect Kenya's, too.

 

3. Just a Band - "Dunia ina Mambo."

This song samples a classic Kenyan song from the '70s, and it shows how this generation of Kenyans are looking to the past to find our cultural roots.

 

4. Nonini - "Furahiday."

A classic Nairobi weekend turn up joint from the early 2000s.

 

5. Madtraxx - "Skamaress."

Another song that samples a classic Kenyan song, again showing how this generation of Kenyans are looking to the past to find our cultural roots.

 

6. TKZee - "Dlala Mapantsula."

The 1st South African song I loved that made realize that there is a dope world outside Kenya....that is not in the West.


Q&A WITH GUEST DJ: BIANCA OBLIVION

BOSTON, INTERVIEWSara SkolnickComment

Get to know Bianca Oblivion before her set at Picó Picante this Friday, August 21st alongside OMULU, Big Bear, and Riobamba! Read on for stories about her punk to riot grrl to hip-hop to dembow history, a recap of her recent European tour, and what's on deck as she prepares to relocate back to her West Coast home.

 

Name: Bianca Oblivion

Age: 30

Where are you from?
Los Angeles

What inspired you to start DJing?
Growing up my family had a huge record collection of every genre you could imagine–punk, funk, mambo, opera, new wave, hip hop–so I've been exposed to all the jams for as long as I can remember. I was also involved in dance my whole life, so I was connected to beats and rhythms which eventually fed into my DJing. I also got into radio Djing in college, and that really paved the way to club DJing.

You have experience DJ'ing/repping all sorts of scenes, from riot grrl to tropical stylings to bass music to hip-hop. What ties these styles together for you?

It really stems from being around varied music styles my whole life. In addition to my family I would trade music with my friends in high school and go to shows almost every week. Then in my dance life I was obsessed with the songs and choreography of '90s music videos and fly girls, and as I got older I got really into African/Afro-Brazilian and Caribbean dance, so I think a lot of that carried into my DJing.  I think what ties it all together is how raw and visceral the vibes can be. It really takes you somewhere else, whether through guttural screams or pounding rhythms.

Grrl, you're a hustler! Tell us about what you do outside of the DJ life.
There are too many things I like to do and not enough time!  I just graduated from BU in medical anthropology, so I’ve been working on publishing a part of my thesis to submit to a journal.  Aside from that I’m really just trying to figure out my next steps in the non-DJ career life...there are a lot of directions I could go so it’s a matter of narrowing it all down and seeing what makes the most sense.  Aside from that, I’d also like to get back into some dance projects, in whatever form that may take.  


You just finished a string of Euro dates – how was that experience?
DJing outside of the U.S. was a huge goal of mine and I was so fortunate to get that opportunity this summer! I was planning on visiting Europe after I graduated and my friend Emily, a nightlife promoter in NY, asked if I’d be interesting in representing her party Hot Rabbit as the DJ for the L-Woodstock Festival in Padua, Italy.  Once that was set another friend in NY, the DJ/producer Banginclude, had just come back from doing a euro tour and connected me with Ckrono & Slesh in Florence.  We started talking and they invited me to play their El Barrio party with their whole crew, Voodoo Rebel.

Both of these parties were incredible; the women at the festival were incredibly welcoming and supportive and the energy in the crowd was unreal.  I was so nervous because it was pouring rain and I didn’t think people would come to the stage, but they piled under the tents and kept the party going...I was so pumped! It was amazing to see how much people can appreciate what you do.  I met some amazing performers and DJs out there as well--Banana Fancy Free from Munich, White Miles from Madagascar, and El Conchitas from the UK just to name a few.  The Voodoo Rebel party in Florence also blew me away--these guys are all some of the most talented DJs/MCs/producers/ragers that I’ve ever met!  Their styles are all different but complementary, lots of bass heavy sounds--tropical, grime, garage, house, trap...I was losing my mind.  Watch out for these guys, Ckrono & Slesh are coming out to the U.S. in the fall and they are definitely gonna bring that Firenze fire.

 
Now that you're leading up to your return to the west coast, what are some things you can take away from your time in the Boston club scene?

I think Boston is particularly unique in its status as a major city, yet with a somewhat provincial vibe.  I love that I can see my fellow DJs/music community friends out at spots regularly all around town and we can connect in person or online and share events, tracks, etc.  I appreciate that there are people creating new parties and scenes and creating spaces to showcase talent despite the confines of club bureaucracy.

As for gigs/projects….hard to choose there are so many! I was so fortunate to be brought into the Zuesdays crew and join forces with Leah V for our BlackLace project, it really pushed me to direct my energy into releasing mixes and working on my online DJ presence, which I had neglected while focusing on work/school.  Good Life has also been my go-to, I have seen some of the most incredible acts come through there and have gotten play alongside them, and I don’t think that would’ve gotten some of these opportunities in other cities or larger venues.  I love the ICA as an art space and getting to DJ there allowed me to perform outside of a bar or club setting.  Plus, I got to appreciate the exhibits AND play jams.  My work with the STEMS Collective began fairly recently, but it’s something I’m really excited to help grow will continue to be a part of.

As a future Boston transplant, what do you want other people to know about the city?
Don’t sleep on Boston! Haha but seriously, so much talent is here and I don’t think a lot of people outside of the city see that enough, or don’t realize that it’s coming out of the Boston scene.  I know there’s a lot of migration into NY or other major cities, but if you’ve contributed to the music community here in any capacity, that remains a part of you in whatever city/scene you join.  It’s been a great experience for me to learn from other DJs, producers and supporters, and I won’t hesitate to promote and share with others and hopefully getting people to connect with one another.  


What are you excited to work on when you get to LA?

LA is my hometown, so I have my family out there and a lot of close friends I’ll be returning to.  I’m excited to work with the Late Night Laggers crew who are KILLING it right now, especially with their tropical bass parties Calentura and Tropixx.  Also hyped to reconnect with Swelta and Sha Sha Kimbo who have been steady building their Cybersonic LA night at the Lash (one my favorite venues).  I’ll be working with the Sweet Beats DJ truck as well...you haven’t lived until you’ve DJed in a moving vehicle!  A lot of new crews/scenes/parties have popped up since I’ve been gone, so I am looking forward to checking it all out and connecting & collaborating with them.  I’m definitely open to starting up a party of my own, but it’s something that may take some time...we’ll see!  


Could you give us a small preview of some tracks from your summer playlist?
 

 

I’ve played this track at almost every gig I’ve had in the last 2 months or so.  Banginclude has some dope edits and remixes, but this one is definitely one of my favs...the dembow beats get me every time.

 

 

This popped up on my SC stream one day while I was walking home and I literally stopped in my tracks to see what it was.  It has the ragga mc with the heavy UK bass and builds up so well.  I played it at both my euro gigs and it got major reactions.  

 

 

Two things I can’t resist, baile funk and rap remixes.  When combined, it’s all over.  I especially like this one because it doesn’t get funky until about a minute in so you think it’s just the original until that boom cha cha hits.

FOURTH ANIVERSARIO MIXTAPE LOVE

MIXTAPE, ULTRATUMBA, RIOBAMBASara SkolnickComment

Ultratumba drops a new mixtape just in time for the four year anniversary times, APPLE BUTTER, recorded live in an apple orchard, New England style. Listen here

 

New Riobamba mixtape out via NOISEY MX! Thanks to ESAMIPAU for the opportunity (check her on Soundcloud or Ibero 90.9 FM) and for the accompanying profile about some of what she's been up to the past few months and the inspiration behind the mixtape, Riobamba, Acid Dembow con Raíces "Ecuato-Lituanas. Listen here. 

PICÓ FOUR YEAR ANNIVERSARY WITH DJ BLASS

NYC, EVENTS, BOSTONSara Skolnick

We can hardly believe it, but PICÓ PICANTE celebrates our fourth anniversary this weekend, and for the occasion we're bringing the party to Boston/NYC for a reggaetón rave of dreams.

DJ BLASS, a.k.a. el artesano del reggaeton, a.k.a. producer for Daddy Yankee, Casa de Leones, Wisin y Yandel, Jowell y Randy, Tego Calderón y más is headed to the East Coast to join us live and direct from Arroyo Puerto Rico!
 
Residents OXYCONTINENTALULTRATUMBARIOBAMBA and XO.E.LING are headed for both dates, plus photo luv for eternity from GUARIONEX RODRIGUEZ JR. In New York we have very special guests GEKO JONES [Que Bajo?!] and FALSE WITNESS [#KUNQ], plus hosts AJ EL KALLEJERO of La Mega 97.9 and cantante/reggaetonero MARVELOUS FAME. We can't wait to celebrate with you!


FRIDAY, JULY 17
BOSTON AT GOOD LIFE
28 Kingston Street
event page


SATURDAY, JULY 18
BROOKLYN AT CAMEO GALLERY
93 North 6th Street
event page / $8 ticket pre-sale

PICÓ AT THE ICA WITH OTTO VON SCHIRACH

EVENTS, BOSTONSara Skolnick

Picó Picante is back at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, Boston this summer on July 31st, teaming up for their Wavelengths outdoor programming!

We've had so much fun in past years, playing on the waterfront with folks like Jubilee, Que Bajo?!, and Mexican Institute of Sound. This year we've bringing Otto Von Schirach up from Miami for a live performance, bringing his mutant Miami bass, live and direct from the "King of the Bermuda Triangle."

Otto Von Schirach grew up in Little Havana, Miami, surrounded by Miami bass,
Cuban tropic music, Afro-Cuban noise, gangsta rap—and a White Magic–practicing grandmother. These musical and supernatural influences come through in unhinged and chaotic songs that merge dubstep, 80s dance music, grind, noise, psychobilly, garage rock, and tropical calypso: Pitchfork called one track “a fevered hallucination,” another “just the right mix of mutilated party anthem and breakneck cut/paste lunacy.”

Don't miss opening sets by Picó residents; grab your tickets here!

RIOBAMBA AT QUE BAJO WITH LOS GAITEROS DE SAN JACINTO

RIOBAMBA, NYC, EVENTSSara Skolnick

As part of the Afro-Latino Festival of New York, Que Bajo is presenting the legendary group Los Gaiteros de San Jacinto along with Picó's own Riobamba and their residents Uproot Andy and Geko Jones

Formed in the 1940's Los Gaiteros are a multi-generational band that has passed down the Gaita tradition and toured internationally for over 7 decades. Often featured in Uproot Andy remixes at Que Bajo, some of you might have seen Los Gaiteros along with Geko Jones some years ago and remember that these guys drink guaro straight out the bota and they party like rockstars. 

The rest of the festival is packed with performances from the likes of plena rey Kafu Banton, Cuban hip-hop emcee Danay Suarez, kizomba dance classes, and more. Pre-sale tickets are on sale here!