Maracuyeah: A DJ Collective Spins Latin Alternative In The Nation's Capital

The Washington, D.C. based Goldin Girl Tribe, whose beats have been featured prominently by Latin alternative DJs Maracuyeah. i i

hide captionThe Washington, D.C. based Goldin Girl Tribe, whose beats have been featured prominently by Latin alternative DJs Maracuyeah.

Courtesy of the artist
The Washington, D.C. based Goldin Girl Tribe, whose beats have been featured prominently by Latin alternative DJs Maracuyeah.

The Washington, D.C. based Goldin Girl Tribe, whose beats have been featured prominently by Latin alternative DJs Maracuyeah.

Courtesy of the artist

English / Spanish

"Sometimes there can be a perfect dance floor," says DJ Rat, one half of the DC-based DJ collective Maracuyeah. She and her musical partner, DJ Mafe, spin Latin alternative beats at locally owned businesses in Washington, D.C. as well as bars and larger venues. "Our idea is to build community," DJ Mafe says. The two envision a dance floor shared equally by recently arrived immigrants from El Salvador, leftists, hipsters, office workers, punks and anyone else wants to join the party.

DJ Mafe (left) and DJ Rat revel in a recent Latin alternative dance party. i i

hide captionDJ Mafe (left) and DJ Rat revel in a recent Latin alternative dance party.

Courtesy of the artist
DJ Mafe (left) and DJ Rat revel in a recent Latin alternative dance party.

DJ Mafe (left) and DJ Rat revel in a recent Latin alternative dance party.

Courtesy of the artist

The music these mid-20s Latinas spin is meant to celebrate hybridity, or the mixing of seemingly disparate parts to form a new kind of nightlife experience. DJ Mafe, who is Colombian, says her own musical background is a mismatch of "going to family parties where you dance to Joe Arroyo" and heading out evenings to learn about punk rock and radical politics.

And when Maracuyeah is at work, you can expect to hear old-school bands like the Colombian '60s group Los Corraleros de Majagual, the Spanish synth pop anthem "Mi novio es un zombie" (my boyfriend is a zombie), all sorts of reggaeton from Los Rakas to Mala Rodriguez and the baile funk of Zuzuka Poderosa and accordion-infused vallenato.

At a recent Maracuyeah DJ night at a bar in Washington's historic U Street neighborhood, DJs Rat and Mafe spun around the dance floor, guiros in hand, percussively firing up the group while the egregious 1990 film Lambada played on screens in the background. It was anarchy on the dance floor, but a cooperative chaos. The DJs' tendency to switch between vintage Peruvian classics and acts like the Chilean electronica artist Mamacita was invigorating, if a little jarring. But that's what Maracuyeah is about: dancing betwixt and between the past and present, relishing every moment.

DJ Rat says Maracuyeah actually began 20 years ago. "I started making mix tapes when I was three," she wrote in a recent email, "my sister, mom and dad and I were the only island of my Peruvian family living in the U.S., and mi mama, determined for us to know our family and, by extension, heritage, set us up with a tape recorder to send regular communiques to our tiny cousins across the world. And so it began — home-recorded mix cassettes that included our favorite songs, cuentos, saludos, hit covers sung by ourselves, piano renditions... for years, at a time when phone calls were $1 a minute, we communicated like this, across crazy cultural borders."

And that's what the DJ/performers are hoping to create with their music nights, a bridge between past and present, between cultures and experiences. A mixtape, recorded for you and blasted for everyone, of their inside jokes, favorite tunes and nostalgia for homelands left behind.

The DJ collective is also working to create a circuit where Latin alternative artists can perform, and not simply arrive in the United States, play a show in New York and fly back from whence they came.

Maracuyeah is DJ Mafe (left) and DJ Rat (right). i i

hide captionMaracuyeah is DJ Mafe (left) and DJ Rat (right).

Maracuyeah
Maracuyeah is DJ Mafe (left) and DJ Rat (right).

Maracuyeah is DJ Mafe (left) and DJ Rat (right).

Maracuyeah

And Maracuyeah, alluding to maracuya, or passion fruit in Spanish, has been largely successful. They've hosted dance parties with Argentine DJ Chancha Via Circuito and Brooklyn-based Brazilian performer Zuzuka Poderosa. The DJs are also excited about introducing their audience to local acts whose music mixes genres.

Rat and Mafe have performed with DC-based hip-hop trio The Goldin Girl Tribe. The Tribe is made up of three women who go by Sonnie Daze, Shelly Shellz and Irie Li, and represent Eritrea, Haiti and the U.S. While none of these performers is Latina, Irie Li says that growing up around Hispanic friends, coworkers and neighbors in and around the District had a definite influence on her life and music. The song "Yele" (which means "scream", "dance" and "yell" in Haitian Creole), was born from the Tribe engaging in some serious girl talk about meeting a cute guy in Miami who spoke only Spanish, and will be featured on the upcoming Maracuyeah sampler. The Tribe sampled the reggaeton track "Danza Kuduro" by Don Omar and Lucenzo on "Yele."

Hear Two Tracks By The Goldin Girl Tribe

The Goldin Girl Tribe Sampler.

Yele

  • Artist: GoldIn Girl Tribe
  • Album: The Goldin Girl Tribe Sampler
 

Zulu Warrior

  • Artist: GoldIn Girl Tribe
  • Album: The Goldin Girl Tribe Sampler
 

As a hometown girl myself, born and raised in the D.C. area, I couldn't be more pleased to introduce you to Maracuyeah and The Goldin Girl Tribe. You can stream two songs from the sampler the group made for South by Southwest here.

Now, what Alt.Latino really wants to know is: What's happening in tu barrio? Whether you go to a Peña in Chicago, or art-rock Latin dance parties in Sacramento, let us know. We're dying to discover all of the ways our audience is celebrating the incredible fusion of styles, musical dialects and ways of being that make up Latin alternative.

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English / Spanish

Maracuyeah: Una Cooperativa De DJ's Dedicados A La Música Latina Alternativa, En Washington DC

"De vez en cuando puede haber una pista de baile perfecta," dice DJ Rat, integrante de Maracuyeah, una colectividad de DJs basada en Washington, DC. Ella y su compañera musical, DJ Mafe, tocan música alternativa latina en pequeños negocios en Washington D.C. y también en bares y sitios más grandes. "Nuestra idea es construir una comunidad," dice DJ Mafe. Las dos imaginan una pista de baile compartida igualmente por inmigrantes recién llegados de El Salvador, hipsters, gente que trabaja en oficinas, punks y cualquier otra persona que quiera adherirse a la fiesta.

La música que tocan estas jóvenes latinas celebra la mezcla de culturas distintas que a veces parecen como el aceite y el agua: una nueva experiencia de vida nocturna. DJ Mafe, que es Colombiana, dice que su propio trasfondo musical es como un sancocho de "ir a las fiestas familiares dónde se bailaba a Joe Arroyo" y luego salir por la noche para aprender sobre el punk y la política izquierdista.

La música de Maracuyeah incluye de todo, desde grupos como Los Corraleros de Majagual (de Colombia en los 60s), la canción española synth pop "Mi Novio Es Un Zombie", toda clase de reggaeton y rap, desde Los Rakas hasta La Mala Rodríguez, el baile funk de Zuzuka Poderosa y vallenato.

Recientemente fui a ver a Maracuyeah en un bar en el barrio histórico de la calle U en Washington DC. DJ Rat y Mafe bailaban por la pista de baile, con güiros en las manos, animando a la clientela mientras se mostraba la horrible película Lambada (1990). Se puede describir la escena como anarquía, pero un caos cooperativo. Las DJ's también suelen poner clásicos peruanos, pero también artistas como la chilena Mamacita. De eso se trata Maracuyeah: bailar entre el pasado y el ahora, gozando cada minuto.

DJ Rat dice que en realidad Maracuyeah empezó hace 20 años. "Comencé a hacer mixtapes cuando tenia tres años," me escribió en un correo reciente, "Mi mamá, decidida a que conociéramos a nuestra familia, y nuestra herencia, nos regaló una grabadora para que enviemos comunicados a nuestros primos que vivián en Perú. Y así empezó todo- cassettes caseros que incluían nuestras canciones favoritas, cuentos, saludos, covers cantados por nosotras, interpretaciones de piano...por años, durante una época en la cual los llamados telefónicos costaban $1 por minuto, nos comunicábamos así, atravezando las fronteras culturales."

Y eso es lo que esperan crear las DJ con su música, una puente entre el pasado y el presente, entre culturas y experiencias. Un mixtape para todos, compuesto de bromas, canciones favoritas y nostalgia por tierras ajenas.

La cooperativa también está trabajando para crear un grupo de lugares donde los artistas puedan tocar música alternativa latina, en vez de tener que llegar a los Estados Unidos, tocar una vez en Nueva York, y después regresarse a sus países.

Maracuyeah, cuyo nombre se refiere a maracuya, ha tenido bastante éxito. Han tocado con el DJ argentino Chancha Vía Circuito y la brasilera Zuzuka Poderosa. Las DJ quieren también introducir a su audiencia a grupos locales cuya música mezcla géneros.

Rat y Mafe han tocado con el trio de hip-hop de DC The Goldin Girl Tribe. The Tribe consiste en tres mujeres que se llaman Sonnie Daze, Shelly Shellz e Irie Li, provenientes de Eritrea, Haití y los Estados Unidos. Aunque ninguna de ellas sea latina, Irie Li dice que la experiencia de crecer con amigos y vecinos hispanos en Washington influenció su vida y música. La canción "Yele" (que significa "grita" o "baila" en el criollo haitiano), nació de una conversación sobre un muchacho bonito en Miami que solo hablaba español, y será destacada en un sampler que va estrenar Maracuyeah en Septiembre. En "Yele" The Goldin Girl Tribe usó una muestra de la canción de reggaeton "Danza Kudoro" por Don Omar y Lucenzo.

Como yo soy una chica nativa de D.C., nacida y criada acá, no podría estar mas emocionada al presentarles a Maracuyeah y The Goldin Girl Tribe. Puedes escuchar dos canciones del sampler que hizo el grupo para South by Southwest aquí.

Ahora, les toca a ustedes, nuestros lectores: ¿Qué está pasando en tú barrio? Ya sea una Peña en Chicago, o a una fiesta de baile de art-rock latino en Sacramento, cuéntanos en la sección de comentarios. Estamos muriendo por descubrir todas las maneras en que nuestra audiencia celebra la mezcla increible de la música alternativa latina.

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