A few short years ago, a man came to the buy counter at Amoeba Hollywood to sell a new release to the store. It was ZZK Sound Vol. 1 - Cumbia Digital. Just before that I had been reading about a club in Buenos Aires, Argentina called Zizek Club, where deejays/producers were playing mash-ups of Cumbia, Reggae, Hip-Hop and Electronic Music. It sounded cool and I wished I could be in BA so I could check it out. Turned out the guy was Grant C. Dull, a former Texan now living Buenos Aires and one of the co-founders of the night as well as the label. That day, the ZZK crew was in town for a show and Amoeba Hollywood turned out to be the first store in the U.S. to carry their product!
We kept in touch and he sent the store releases by Fauna, El Remolon and Chancha Via Circuito before the label had U.S. distribution. The ZZK label and its artists soon became known worldwide, performing in Europe, Mexico, Canada and all over the U.S. The latest tour has dates in San Francisco, Echo Park and Hollywood. I caught up with Grant (Aka El G) over the phone and asked him a few questions about the tour and what is up with ZZK in general.
So how is the tour so far?
Grant: It's going really well. We started in New York and have been making our way west for the last two weeks. The reception has been great and this has been our best tour yet.
Do you think its because people are more familiar with your music?
Yes. We have now been around for two years and three months. The word is out and we are not as underground as we used to be. People have been coming out of the woodwork for our last few shows and it has been amazing.
You recently used Kickstarter.com to help fund this tour. What is Kickstarter and how did it help the tour?
Kickstarter is a social media site run out of Brooklyn. It gives you a platform and the logistics to get the funding for various creative projects. The money that we received through Kickstarter will go to the production of ZZK TV, an online video project designed to share our sound worldwide. It is an immediate way for the rest of the world to experience it both on stage and in the studio. Since the beginning we have been all about using the Internet to promote the club, then the label, so for us this is a natural progression.
At Amoeba Hollywood, there has always been a vague line between Electro and modern World Music. For instance, Buraka Som Sistema, Quantic and The Gotan Project are filed in the Electronica section, while The Nortec Collective, Bajofondo and all the ZZK artists are filed in the World section. We (The World and Electro buyers) will often br at odds about who should be filed where. Where do you see yourselves? Do you see yourselves as part of the World Music community or part of the Electro movement?
I feel that what kind of music we are considered isn’t our biggest concern. We feel we have one foot in each genre. What you have been seeing of late is a new generation of musicians around the world using digital formats and merging traditional with electronic music. It’s World Music 2.0; it’s a revitalization of the World music and Electro format. For instance, on this tour we also have Tremor, which is a 3-piece band that play 10 different instruments. They are a fusion of South American traditional and digital music. They have been blowing peoples' minds on this tour. In fact, Womex (labeled as “The most important international professional market of World music of every kind”) has invited Tremor to play their upcoming festival. At first I had concerns on having them attend because Womex tends to be a bit on the conservative side, but then I thought that Tremor is taking music to the next level. So even if some at the festival aren’t ready them, others will be blown away. There is a whole new generation that is ready for something new, so it needs to happen.
Being a label head, I think it's pretty cool that you a doing a DJ set on this tour. How have the sets been going?
It's been great! Originally I came as the tour manager, but one of the festivals asked me to DJ and I have been doing it since. I had mixed feelings about DJing at first because I’m trying to take care of business -- first as the promoter, then label manager as well as a tour manager. But now we have more people helping out, like a publicist, things that I used to take care of, so now I can enjoy deejaying without worries.
I figure, who knows more about the music on the label than the label head himself?
I have been getting a lot of good feedback and encouragement from people, telling me that it is important that I DJ. I started doing the opening set but now I do the closing set. I get to play unreleased music, classics from the ZZK catalog. I tend to play the weirder stuff and it works on the later part of the evening, as people seem to be more receptive to it.
You can get the following ZZK releases at Amoeba Hollywood:
V/A- ZZK Digital Cumbia Vol 2
Chancha Via Circuito – Rodante
Fauna - La Manita de Fauna
El Remolón - Pibe Cosmo
Tremor - Caracol (LP only)
August 5 – San Francisco, CA @ Rickshaw Stop
August 6 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Echo
August 7 - Hollywood, CA @ Jimmy's Lounge
All shows are with: Tremor, Chancha Via Circuito, El Remolon, & El G!