*Download the mix here
The term 'Spanish hip-hop' provokes some rather negative reactions in Spain. Mainly because what is sold by 'the industry', MTV Spain and the mainstream media as 'Spanish hip-hop', sounds stale and is made according to standards set fifteen years ago by those who became stars in those days, with juicy contracts from labels who decided to jump on the bandwagon and squeeze as much out of the hype as they possibly could. However, hip-hop made in Spain is healthier than ever, with a lot of artists stepping way off the beaten path, with surprisingly good and refreshing sounds. Spain's even got its own internet rap heroes. Who needs Lil B if you have Coleta?
La Coruña, Galicia collective Norweside are one of those wells of freshness, and that's partly thanks to Judah. His are many of the productions on the group's Bandcamp page. From 2010's “Computer Rock” and 2011's “King Of Wut” to this year's “Love Supreme” and the syrupy “Pop Another Bottle”, the Galician shows off his skills in different disciplines while remaining a high level of quality at all times. His DJ work started to raise interest, after a series of podcasts for several Spanish e-zines, in which he echoed influences from the classic New York crews and modern LA sounds (Brainfeeder and WEDIDIT) mixed with southern rap, crunk, and Glasgow sounds in the vein of Rustie + Hudson Mohawke. The podcast he made for PlayGround to celebrate his gig at the 981 Heritage festival (in Madrid on 6th October, and London in November) consists of one hour of sounds from Spain and abroad, with the 'break ya neck' gene as the common factor.
Your brother, DJ Grobas, is pretty important on the Spanish underground scene. To what extent was he of influence on your sound?
The first style I really felt attracted to was reggae. When I was 10 or 11, I was crazy about that music and actually my stage name is still a reflection of that, in a way. Influenced by friends from school, however, I started drawing towards hip-hop more and more. I started rapping, like everyone in this game, I suppose, but later I started to make tracks, and then dj. My brothers weren't that much of an influence, because we weren't living in the same house (in fact, I never even touched a turntable until I bought two), but I suppose that when you see something from up close, you perceive it as something much more accessible. And they did help me in the early days, especially when it comes to equipment and so on.
Those school friends who got you into hip-hop, are they the same people you're running with now? I mean the people you've been collaborating with lately, such as Sago, Ponte and Arufe.
No. I met the guys I'm in Norweside with by making music over the years. My school friends were hip-hop fans, some tried to rap, other didn't. I started to make music with one of them, Lako, and that's how Norweside started, but Lako has since disconnected from the music and is focusing on photography and graffiti now.
So what is Norweside exactly, and how did it come about?
Norweside started as I said, when Lako and I decided to give what we and other people we were meeting were doing a name, back in 2004 or 2005. That's when I met Sago, and we formed Watios. Until 2009, everybody from our circle who recorded tracks at my place put the Norweside label on their demos. Around 2009 I met Arufe. From then on, those of us who really wanted to go on with what we were doing, and take it to a more serious level - basically Sago, Arufe and I - decided to do so, and that's when Norweside as it is today took shape. We work as a collective and as a digital label. Our philosophy is to bring together people who see music the same way and who understand each other when working together. We don't release anything by people from outside our clique, because then it would lose some of its essence. The idea is to keep learning on our own, without anyone counting or depending on us.
I keep asking you about the collective, because there's a lot of things going on in the north of Spain. Why do you think so much good stuff is being made in Galicia, year after year, and by people independent from each other? And I'm not just talking about one specific genre; there's a lot happening both creatively and with regards to events.
Lately all eyes are on Galicia, yes, I've noticed. I think that from the inside, it doesn't all look that good. A bill that would fill a venue in one city, may only attract 30 or 40 people in another town. The important thing is that the first step has been taken, and events are being set up. As far as collectives, ideas and artists are concerned, I think is mainly a question of numbers. We're the fifth community in Spain, population-wise, but the problem is there are no labels, or promoters, or any industry representatives, we're pretty isolated. Until recently, that made us practically invisible to the rest of the country. With internet, things have changed, and the fact that everything is very DIY, gives us an edge. But there's still a lot of work to be done, we're far from there still.
Your gig with Dorian Concept 981 HERITAGE in London; is that your first one outside of Spain?
Yes. I played as a DJ for Kaixo Nasa and César (Banana Bahía Music) in Porto, Portugal, but that's almost like home, really. The truth is I'm really excited about playing in London, especially since until a year ago, I hadn't even been outside Galicia. I believe the new locations 981 is setting up camp in this year will take the event to the next level, and the best thing is that they continue to believe in home-grown artists for each event.
How are you going to do it artistically, considering you're sharing the stage with Dorian Concept? Did you know his work?
I've been following him for some time now, he was one of the artists that got me into the experimental beat scene, along with people like Flying Lotus and Samiyam. I don't know how many times I've seen that YouTube video of him playing around with his MicroKorg, but I still love it. I haven't thought too much about my set in London yet, but I suppose it will be rather experimental, given the time that I'm playing and where the event is taking place.
I have to ask you if you've had a say in the choice of your partner for that 981 HERITAGE night.
Nothing whatsoever! I suppose they were looking for similar sounds for the two days, and of everyone playing there, he might be the one I identify with the most.
I read that you're setting up a Spanish tour as well.
Well, apart from the three 981 gigs, I'll be wreaking a bit of havoc with my Norweside friends. We've a couple of dates confirmed with Sago, in Zaragoza (2nd November, Muffin Club), Microfest in Santiago de Compostela (17th November) and Lugo (7th December, Viveiro), and we're closing some gigs with Arufe and Ponte, in the Basque Country, Barcelona and Galicia.
How do you usually prepare for your sets? And how did you do this particular podcast?
Normally I just select a bunch of tracks I like and haven't played out too much yet. I play with turntables and a mixing desk, and record it all in one go. If something goes 'wrong', I just start over. After I've finished, I arrange the volumes a bit in Logic, and that's it.
Once a member of the influential Anti-Social crew and now full-time Deep Medi artist, V.I.V.E.K. lives in a permanent st...
Living in the Reunion Island for almost a year, Jazzanova’s Alex Barck may seem to be living in Paradise. But he doesn’t...
The mysterious Arandel gives us “Neige”, his homage to Christmas with tons of traditional songs arranged in an electroni...
Johan Agebjörn of Sally Shapiro fame gives us a big dose of his passion for eighties synthetic disco and previews us an ...
Active for ten years in the depths of the underground, and now ‘discovered’ by Scratcha DVA for his brand new DVA Music ...
Sam XL, the British expat rooted in the LA bass underground, shows us the history and the sound of the huge Pure Filth S...
Next week, the Scotish duo known as Clouds will drop his new smashing techno 12” for the Turbo label, called “Tannhauser...
Enrique Mena, alias Svreca, is the man-label par excellence in Spanish techno. In charge of the exquisite Semántica Reco...