Q&A with Boogat


Two years after the release of El Dorado Sunset, Montreal MC, Boogat, returns with his new album, Neo-Reconquista, out in the US on October via Maisonnette.
Being one of the most notable latin acts in the North American hemisphere. We have a great Q&A with him.

TB: Hey Boogat. Great to have you here again at the Tropical Bass blog. We see you have been very active with ”Neo-Reconquista” since Summer, and are finally reaching the physical stage in fall. What can people expect with this release and where they can get a copy of it?

Boogat: It’s a really special record to me and I think it’s my best one to date. The title ”Neo-Reconquista” is an omen: I thought it was about the ”vencidos” getting their pride and dignity back, culturally and politically, but now that I have moved to Mexico City (I had no idea I was about to move here when I did the record) I discovered that it’s about me getting my Latin American identity back. This release is now available in Canada, Mexico & the US via commercial record stores, physical or online. You can also get a copy of it worldwide via my bandcamp page (boogat.bandcamp.com).

TB: We can hear you have somehow moved from Poirier’s Bass sound towards Jean Massicotte’s more musical oriented and definitely mature work. Exploring new and mature sound without losing your initial compass. Was this something you wanted to achieve or was more a result of the process.

Boogat: I think that every record has to have to be unique sonically, musically, subject wise, etc. I used a lot of different producers on the last record (El Dorado Sunset: Thornato, Poirier, Schlachthofbronx, El Kool Kyle, Nom De Plume), I wanted to do something different for this new one. From touring with the band (Timbales, Trombone, Guitar, Drums + sequences), I wanted to start to catch that live energy on tape. Arranging for live shows is a lot of fun and from there I started composing naturally on my own for Neo-Reconquista. That’s the main difference on this record: I composed most of it. Then I needed somebody to arrange and add the final touches to it. I’ve been wanting to do a record with Jean Massicotte for 10 years. I’ve been a fan of his work for quite a long time but the stars just didn’t align untill ”Neo-Reconquista”. He was the perfect producer for this record – really musical, listens to his gut feelings, following his instinct rather than the theory or what the meter says. Lyrically, I wanted to write meaningfull stuff that will last through time, and musically it’s the same idea: ”intemporel” as we say in French. I’m really proud of this record, every piece of it, it sounds like me.

3) Some of the songs talk about simple things, like BBQing with friends (”En la Montaña”) or giving some advice (”El Lobo”) but honestly some of the most impressive lyrics on the album are dropped on ”Los Amigos de mis Padres”. It seems your inspiration is based on your real life, isn’t it? Where do the lyrics come from?

Boogat: I grew up in the Golden Age of Hip-Hop so, of course, lyrics based on real life have added value for me. In art you have to use what you have, what you live, your true persona. Being genuine and sincere is a must. I’m the son of immigrants that came to Canada so their kids could have a better and safer lives. Growing up with love and food, you don’t realize the sacrifices that your parents go through for you to be well. A lot of my parent’s friends from all over Latin America arrived in Canada in the 70’s as political refugees. They had diplomas that where not recognized and started their lifes all over again, working in whatever they could find to keep their family going. Through exile, they became my substitute uncles and aunts. Some of them have been tortured in their countries, but they never complained of it in front of us. They must have felt an incredible amount of hate in their heart. Their dreams of changing their countries for better where killed by brutal dictatorships and shady allies. Even after all that, they found the strength to raise us in love and to make our lifes beautifull. That’s deep and I will forever be thankfull to them and admire them. They are my inspiration.

TB: We’ve known each other for a long time now, that being said, hype is not something you believe any longer. How do you see the current scene for Latino underground musicians in English North America?

Boogat: People love Latin music all over the US and Canada. There are great Latin musicians in those two countries that make a living off it. There are great festivals, promoters, programmers, managers in the World Beat circuit and it keeps growing. We just have to be careful to not only stay in those countries. We have to participate in the worldwide Latin music conversation.

TB: You are back to some of your roots with Heavy Soundz. Why does salsa and Latin beats have so much fire in Canada and certainly attract crowds on the dancefloor in Montreal, but they barely get radio play or appreciation from mainstream media. Why do you believe that happens?

Boogat: The commercial Latin artists are played on the radio, so it’s not a question of genre but of format. Any Latin artist that plays the commercial game well and has a good budget will get radio play. Period. Underground Latin music, by definition is not mainstream, so I don’t see what the problem is. ”Mainstream media” in Canada, radio included, is condemned to disappear anyways. It’s already in progress and everybody sees it. The internet changed everything and Culture uses ”mainstream media” channels less and less every day. On the other hand, Salsa, Cumbia and other Latin tropical music styles will never be part of mainstream Canadian culture. That’s not racism, that’s just the way things are culturally in Canada.

TB: ”Una Cita” is the banger tune on the album, and perhaps the closest to what a Boogat-Poirier track sounded like, but now it has a collab. How this track was conceived?

Boogat: ”Una Cita is a great international collaboration”. I love La Yegros and have wanted to do a song with her for a couple of years now. Mutual friends in DF (The Cassette Blog gang) and our managers made the connection possible. Then Thornato sent me this marvelous beat and I forwarded it to La Yegros. That’s why it has that Tropical Bass club sound. She sent me a first recorded verse back, and we ping-ponged the rest of the song via e-mails until we were happy with it. The final touch was to record Kiko Osorio’s timbale solo at the end of the track and that was it.

TB:”Neo-Reconquista” is a strong statement. Are we latinos, getting more representation and getting back what once was ours OR do you believe somehow we might get misrepresented by the conception of Mexican migrants into the US, or Ecuadorian in Spain as a whole representation of a continent?

Boogat: Getting back what’s ours starts in our heads and hearts, and it cannot be achieved using the parameters of this material world. But we also have to beat the King at his own game. That’s the game. Racism is an invented concept that was designed to make us forget that there’s a fight for wealth / power going on between Cultural groups. Yes, we are misrepresented and that needs to change, but change takes time. From the moment we truly know who we are and love ourselves: fuck what other people think!

TB: Last but not least, what can we expect from Boogat this upcoming 2016?

Boogat: Lots of touring: Mexico, USA, Canada, Spain, France and a few countries in South America. Living in DF really inspires me, I’ve already started working on a new record. Different, cool songs are coming together and it feels awesome. Lots of collaborations also. Mexico City is the Center of the Cosmic Universe so anything can happen now.

The record features the second single, “Me Muero Por Ti” – a nonchalant ballad about profound and eternal love, achievable only through total commitment and implicit sacrifice.
Combining the aesthetics of Spanish reggae with those of cumbia and modern pop, “Me Muero Por Ti” radiates a gentle sweetness thanks to the wonderful horn arrangements. Directed by the exuberant Mexican-native Mariano Franco, the video tackles the idea of love beyond death by drawing on the rich universe of Latin American magical realism, and includes a few nods to latino pop culture, as well as to the works of Garcia Marquez and Jodorowski. “It’s when one’s vulnerability is revealed to the other, when we put ourselves completely at the other’s mercy,” explains Boogat.