¿Quién Quiere Tuki? Who wants Tuki? That’s the question a freshly dropped documentary about Venezuela’s unique form of Ghetto Bass asks. The comprehensive short doc is digging deep in a relatively unknown scene that just recently came to some attention in the Tropical scene with the portrayal of some of it’s most important protagonists, producers and dancers alike.
Tropicalbass.com talked to one of the heads behind involved Abstractor collective, producer Pacheko, already a while ago. The release of his and partner Pocz Tuki-influenced “Tuki Love” back in 2011 on Enchufada was one of the first tracks that made the global Bass community notice this unique sound. In the interview he not only talks about his own work and history as a musician, but also gives some interesting additional insights in the Tuki movement.
Maybe you can just give us a short introduction about yourself. Who are you, what are you doing?
My name is Francisco, I make music as Pacheko. I come from Venezuela, South America and I’ve been making Electronic Music for about seven years, since around 2005 maybe. I used to play in bands before with a bit of electronic elements and Dub influences in it. Then, after about two or three years making Dubstep I decided to try new things and started experimenting with more tropical type of influences, like Soca, African Kuduro or Brazilian Baile Funk, and more recently Changa Tuki, which comes from the Venezuelan ghettos. It’s been an amazing past year for me because I finally met the guys that created that Changa Tuki sound and meeting them inspired me a lot to give a more Venezuelan identity to my music. Now I moved to Spain and I’m starting to get all these new influences from living in Europe and we’ll see where my music goes now.
Can you tell us more about the Tuki scene. It would be cool to have some deeper insights (as I really think it is one of the next big “buzzes” coming up).
I hope so! It is a local scene from Venezuela, which has producers, dancers, DJs, dance-battles and came out of the Venezuelan barrios (which are similar to the favelas in Brazil). They are like isolated communities, really poor people live there, it is quite dangerous and they are really disconnected from other parts of the society like middle class and upper class. Even the media in Venezuela is not aware of what’s really going on.
It all started with dance battles, between 2005 and 2008. These dance battles were filmed and uploaded to Youtube, so they got kind of viral in a way and some of the Tuki battle videos have more than a million views now. It’s crazy! Pretty much every Venezuelan would know that Tuki music is sort of something going on in the ghettos, or in the barrios, but no one could point you out to one producer or one DJ.
Further, because of that disconnection of the barrios and the media, for the middle and upper classes the word “Tuki” has become quite a synonym for something poor, or cheap, or ghetto-style, but in a really depreciative way. Middle class kids or upper class kids would refer to Tuki as something really ghetto; if something is cheap and ghetto-style, they will say: “Oh, that’s tuki”. But: they don’t know that there is a scene with producers and DJs combining influences from Dutch House, Ghetto House, Post-Acid and Tropical sounds. People don’t know that at all. I think it is our mission to spread that as much as possible and it has been wonderful to connect with the people that make this music. Because by the time we met them, they were not doing it anymore. I met Yirvin and Baba, which are the two main producers, last year, and they hadn’t been doing Tuki music for at least two years.
What are they doing now?
Reggaeton and Techno, House, really commercial stuff in the direction of David Guetta. Because they felt what they were doing before was not going anywhere, and the tuki-word got such a bad reputation. They quit! And all those hundreds of dancers are so hungry for music, because this sound is so particular, but these guys were not doing it anymore. That’s why the Abstractor nights started to invite f.e. Yirvine to play his older tracks, the dancers started coming to the parties, and those parties were becoming this one place where rich people and poor people would meet up and it would go wild with dancers from the barrios, dancing with fancy girls from upper class and everyone having a blast. This all happened within the last year, and still there is so much going on that is really hard to digest. And I hope within this year we can release more Tuki music, further there is a documentary coming out and a free downloadable compilation that should be a really nice introduction to the Tuki sound.
There is another Tuki compilation coming out on a Swiss label on vinyl hopefully, and we have a Pocz & Pacheko album on Enchufada with Tuki sound. So hopefully this year will be a good year to tell the world what’s going on in Venezuela. The most wonderful thing for me is that it is the first Electronic Music scene originated in Caracas. It has a really authentic identity in my point of view, so for me it’s beautiful. But you can not compare it to Kuduro or Baile Funk or other scenes that are really big and have albums and a lot of DJs and a lot of nights going on because the Tuki scene is so isolated and so deeply hidden in the barrios.
Maybe it’s just a matter of time…
Hopefully! My dream is to inspire more kids to do it because I think the raw ideas from a kid in the barrio are so interesting. Venezuela is a country that has musical influences from the US (a lot), but also from Salsa, from Reggaeton, from African drumming and from Reggae and whatever. So it’s a combination of everything – when you see Venezuela in a map it’s part of the Caribbean but also of South America, close to the States, and we have a huge European heritage. So it’s a combination of all these interesting influences and I think that gives the kids ideas to do crazy Electronic Music. I want people in the barrios to know that there is nothing bad with having an identity and if everyone thinks Tuki is ghetto, then f*ck them. You know, yes, then I’m Tuki! And the dancers know that, they are actually more confident saying that they are Tuki than the producers. In a way right now the production is not so “productive”, there are not many kids doing it, but I really hope that this changes.
You mentioned Abstractor. Maybe you could explain it a bit: you throw parties in Caracas, you run a blog, and a label too?
Before Abstractor I used to make nights. There were few to zero nights in the country and those were mostly about just making money, and getting people to buy drinks. I wanted to make a night that focus on the music, so I made a night for Dubstep for about two years, pretty much by myself. And I got artist like Mala and DJ Rupture and even Kid606 to play. But after a while I found myself collaborating with a lot of people, from graphic designers to other musicians and DJs, and as we were all collaborating, after chats and chats and drinks and drinks we figured out we should make this collaborations a bit more productive for all. And instead of collaborating for each other’s projects separately we decided to do a site or a project where people could find out about all of us.
Sounds like a platform for like-minded people, no matter from what kind of artistical background they are coming…
Exactly! As long as we all kind of agree that we want someone to participate. There is no formal process for incorporating people, it’s just if the feeling is there in all of us then we work together. It’s very hippie in a way [laughs]. That’s part of the magic, it’s not formal. It’s amazing to work with people that are thinking differently and I think that’s the magic of Abstractor. It’s not really a label, it’s not really a blog – it’s a bit of everything. We have a radioshow now in Venezuela in FM radio, every week. We used to have a monthly night which is still going on in Caracas, and – as the Venezuelan situation is so much fucked up right now – most of us are living now out of the country. KLVO is in Melbourne, Mpeach is in New York, Incklear, who does all the graphics, is in Zagreb, Croatia, I’m in Barcelona along with Cardopusher. Abstractor keeps us connected in a way, and I love it. I think we keep on doing that project, but the nicest thing is that it doesn’t limit us to only do that, we can do whatever we want with our own careers. So it’s like my family. I hope it keeps growing.
What would you say in which direction is your production work going at the moment? You moved to Europe – what are the differences, or are there any differences?
Well, it’s an interesting question. I’ve been here for six month now [in April 2012], Europe is an amazing place, it’s so connected, all the countries are so close to each other and the information is flowing so fast that you have everything going on: You have Techno, you have House, you have Moombahton, you have Kuduro, you have all types of music and all types of people doing all types of things. That said you really have to go where your heart tells you. I’m definitely going for a deeper side of music now – of course I like dance music, that’s what I do, I deejay and I like to see people dance. But I want a deeper sound, not so much in your face anymore. But I’m so involved with the Tuki thing right now, I haven’t been able to let that off, it’s within my system. And I have a delivery date for a Tuki EP here and another Tuki thing there so I’m really trying to finish this the best way possible, and give it a little bit of depth at the final stages of production. But as much as I love Tuki, in the future I definitely want to do different things. As a producer, when you stuck to one idea over and over, you have nothing else to say. I definitely want to try new things and my mind is so full right now I can’t even digest all that I’m seeing.
I have no idea how my music is going to sound in six month, but at the moment it’s Tuki-inspired and since I’m in Europe it’s definitely deeper and the sounds have more space.
Before we finish: Would you regard your music as Tropical?
I would say yes but I dont like that tag so much anymore. There is a lot of shit coming out these days being tagged as ¨Tropical¨, and because there is so many music and so little curation & selection and whatever, there is a lot of shit to go through before actually reaching the good stuff. There is good and bad music in every genre of course, so thats the thing as long as the music is good and you connect with it and it feels right then the tag is not that important anymore.
Pacheko already released on Enchufada, Senseless, Iberian and more. He is doing production work solo and as Pocz & Pacheko. Pocz & Pacheko are due to release their brand new EP Changa Tuki on Enchufada on November 19th, featuring guest appearences by Dj Yirvin and Buraka Som Sistema. Also scheduled on Mental Groove Records: the mentioned compilation ¨Changa Tuki Classicos¨.
For an excellent piece about Changa Tuki also check out Dave Quam for Cluster Mag.