A word of warning: By the end of our next segment you might find yourself dancing or at least rocking side-to-side in your seats, because Jasmine Garsd and Felix Contreras join us to lead you in that direction. They come with music from Latin DJs. Jasmine and Felix are the hosts of ALT.LATINO, NPRs podcast about Latin Alternative music.

Hola to both of you.

(Soundbite of laughter)


FELIX CONTRERAS: Thanks for having us.

(Soundbite of laughter)

LYDEN: This is going to be fun and Im not going to deny it.

So, in the past, you two have brought interesting bands from the podcast here to WEEKEND EDITION. And, Jasmine, just remind us of some of these really cool Latin Alternative music elements.

GARSD: Well, I like to think of Latin Alternative of not one specific thing. It's kind of like a mix of all types of different, you know, hip-hop, electronica, rock and roll, Latin folk; more tradition genres like merengue, salsa. It's not what your parents listened to. It's just something completely new and different.

CONTRERAS: It's primarily being made by younger musicians, I guess we can say, for those of us who are of a certain age. You know, it's like a younger crowd listening and experimenting and doing a lot of interesting different things.

LYDEN: You talk about what Alt Latino is, and today we're going to hear from DJs who make music sampling all of this stuff. Let's listen to some.

GARSD: For our first pick, we brought DJ Geko Jones. He is based in New York; half Puerto Rican, half Colombian. And this is one of my favorite mixes of his. It's called "Pa' La Escuela Nene" or "Go to School Little Boy."

(Soundbite of song, "Pa' La Escuela Nene")

Ms. MARIA MULATA And the Itinerario de Tambores (Band): (Singing in Spanish)

LYDEN: Okay, Im already in that, rocking side-to-side.

(Soundbite of laughter)

LYDEN: All right. Jasmine, you're the one born in Argentina, almost born in Brazil. I want to ask, this sounds African. I really hear that call and response.

GARSD: Absolutely. So Geko is kind of like a musical anthropologist. He goes digging for music in Columbia, sometimes even music that in Colombia itself is kind of obscure. This is a style called Bojarengue(ph). Bojarengue is a regional Caribbean/Colombian and Panamanian style. And it's very much Afro-descendent from areas in Colombia and Panama where, it back in colonial days, runaway slaves would make their home and this type of music developed. And he mixes all this traditional sound with really artful, heavy beats. And he's talked about striking that perfect balance between really praising the traditional and adding something new to it.

LYDEN: Oh, I love it. I love it. It's really intoxicating.

(Soundbite of song, "Pa' La Escuela Nene")

LYDEN: Now, who are we hearing sing here? Who singing?

CONTRERAS: We're hearing a vocalist by the name of Maria Mulata and the group is the Itinerario de Tambores, it's a drum group. And, you know, it's like Jasmine said, it's very obscure, it's very specific to a region. I like to think of it - imagine an obscure part of Appalachian singing, mixed in with DJ music and house music. That's what essentially what he's doing, bringing the two cultures and two epics and two different divides together and making this really groovy dance music, as we can you move it around in your chair.

(Soundbite of laughter)

LYDEN: Yeah. And I want people to know it's like, you know, I don't really have to be in the chair.

(Soundbite of laughter)

LYDEN: Yeah. Let's listen to some more.

GARSD: Actually, I brought an Argentine DJ who is my absolute favorite musician of the last year. His name is Chancha Via Circuito.

LYDEN: Chancha.

(Soundbite of laughter)



(Soundbite of song

Mr. CHANCHA VIA CIRCUITO (Singer): ((Singing in Spanish)

LYDEN: You know, I have to say I kind of love this. There's something, it's almost - don't take this the wrong way - there's a little schmaltz in this. There's a little good old-fashioned, you know you know, Dean...

GARSD: Oh, I see.

LYDEN: Yeah, the gunslinger is wandering into the little village.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GARSD: It's funny that you should say that because what Chancha does is he takes a lot of traditional and folk musicians. And this is a very traditional folk musician Jose Larralde. And he's a traditional Argentine folk musician and he does have that very - oh, I'm going to get into trouble for saying this -but almost like a Burt Reynolds persona.

(Soundbite of laughter)

LYDEN: Oh, no. He's really, you know, Latino.

(Soundbite of laughter)

LYDEN: Alt Latino.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONTRERAS: Burt Reynolds.

LYDEN: Saying you dont know.

(Soundbite of laughter)

GARSD: But Jose Larralde, in this case, yeah, he has a deep booming voice. And this song is talking about Pewenche, which the Mapuche Tribe in Southwest Argentina and Chile. And the lyrics are just, I mean, they're just - they're goose bump-inducing.

LYDEN: Ah, you have to tell us.

GARSD: One of the lyrics says: Sun that is wasting away on the rocks, flat stones and dark currents, I kiss the Indian shadow that is returning stronger, awakened from a green dream.

LYDEN: Hmm, wow. Pulsing, yeah. It's really nice.

CONTRERAS: Yeah, really cool.

LYDEN: Yeah, he's an hombre sincero.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONTRERAS: Very good.


CONTRERAS: We go bilingual. That's awesome.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONTRERAS: Thats cool. What we like about this guy is that he's using, you know, we refer to him loosely as a DJ. But, you know, what he's doing is that he's using computers and the recording technology within the computers, to bring in all these different elements and he makes his own stuff. He'll mix and maybe with some dance beat. But it's always like this sound collage. He's like a sculpture in a lot of ways. He's bringing all these different elements in and they're not all connected. The drum part may be one thing and these other things will bring in. He's just really an interesting guy.

LYDEN: And I understand this guy came in for a Tiny Desk Concert. This is where at NPR, NPR Music has musicians come in who were in town, invited in to play in the middle of all the cubicles. It's utterly cool, and then posted on the website later so people can see him performing.

GARSD: Yeah, we will be posting that later in the month, Jacki. And like Felix said, he not only works on computers, he brought like this construction work tube. And he was just like doing sounds with it. He's a sound artist.

LYDEN: Yeah. I love it. Anything left for today?

GARSD: Well, speaking of love, we have Los Macuanos, a group from Mexico doing "Ritmo De Amor," "Rhythm of Love."

(Soundbite of song, "Ritmo De Amor")

LOS MACUANOS (Band): (Singing)

LYDEN: Cause thats like from Telenovela to the fun house.

(Soundbite of laughter)

LYDEN: Thats my little name for it.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONTRERAS: That's awesome. I keep teasing Jasmine that I want to be a DJ when I grow up because, these guys, they're doing such amazing things mixing in all these, again, mixing all these elements. We heard some home cumbia there - some Mexican version cumbia. We heard some polka with the accordion. We heard like the cheesy, little synthesizer stuff. And it may not sound like there's a lot going on, but if you're dancing you don't want it to end; it's just that steady groove.

(Soundbite of music, "Ritmo De Amor")

LYDEN: Well, this has been so much fun. Jasmine Garsd and Felix Contreras are the hosts of Alt.Latino, an NPR podcast available at NPR.org/altlatino. You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter.

Jasmine and Felix, thanks. This has been fantastico.

CONTRERAS: Thanks for having us.

GARSD: Thank you so much.

(Soundbite of song, "Ritmo De Amor")


LYDEN: This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Jacki Lyden.

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