Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Maku Soundsystem-Verano Alternativo

This band signifies the beautiful unification of difference and cultures through music. Their unique sound will draw you in and have you fall in love with the magic that is MAKU Soundsystem.

Maku Soundsystem
Liliana Conde (vocals, percussion)
Juan Ospina A.K.A Prodigio Arribetiao (vocals, bass)
Camilo Rodriguez (guitar, gaitas)
Robert Stringer (trombone)
Felipe Quiroz (synthesizers)
Moris Cañate (tambor alegre)
Andres Jimenez (drums)
Isaish Richardson Jr. (sax and Clarinet)

Bionica: What made you guys choose the name MAKU for the band?
MAKU Soundsystems: Our guitarist Camilo, picked the name, inspired by the Nukak Makú. They are a nomadic indigenous community from the Amazon.  Supposedly, we Westerners came into contact with them and their story made the front page in the New York Times, which he in his experience found very interesting and that's where the name stems from. The notion, the name, just stuck with him and it's the band's name now. Maku means people, it's the people from every day life, Soundsystem is the party or vehicle through which we celebrate. And so, it's a party for everyone. 

Bionica: You guys are a very large group and most of you are from Colombia. 
MAKU Soundystem: Yes.
Bionica: Where in Colombia? 
MAKU Soundsystem: Different parts. There are 4 of us from Bogota, 2 people are from Barranquilla, and 2 band members are from here, the US. Robert the trombone player is from Savannah, Georgia in the South and Isaiah is from here, the Bronx in New York. 
Bionica: Although you guys are from Colombia, the culture is somehow different depending where you are, be it on the coast in Barranquilla or Bogota. What's something that you have learned from each other? What do you like most about working together?
MAKU Soundsystem: First we have learned to work together <laughs>. To make music together and have better conversation, with music together. We've been together for almost 5 years and as Colombians from different regions, there has definitely been an interchange. There was a huge rock influence in my time as well as music from here and the music that our parents listened to in Bogota. The music from the coast has always been present in Bogota in different ways, be it the bus–buzeta or our parents who would always listened to it at home in parties. The coast also has all the tradition that is a great foundation for the music that we put together as Maku Soundsystem. Besides that, we are also from here, from New York and we are immigrants and have been here for a long time. As Felipe was saying, there are members that aren't from Colombia. One is from New York and the other is from Savannah, and so there is an organic exchange with the music that is here in the city. All of us musicians listen to different things and you will hear something different depending on who you ask. I believe that the band fills itself with so many truths because of this. You have these New York immigrants with these Colombians in the middle. 
Bionica: You guys also came out with a vinyl disc. 
MAKU Soundsystem: Yes
Bionica: A single right?
MAKU Soundsystem: The last one that was released was an EP, with 4 songs. Before that there was a whole album, Makumbala, with 9 tracks and prior to that was our first CD, Vamos Bien. There will be a new album, Nation of Immigrants, which will be coming out at the end of the year. We were able to record 2 new songs at the Studio of LongBoard in Hamburg, Germany. The songs will be released under the label Peace & Rhythm which is from Massachusetts. It's all DJ, party…with love and substance. 
Bionica: Why didn't you release the songs in a digital format? Why vinyl?
MAKU Soundsystem: There are people in the band that really enjoy vinyls, we collect them. It's an analog sound, a physical process, which is nice. The final product is tangible. It's an alternative way to make music. Everything is so easy today, anyone can make an MP3, a CD, or even a vinyl disc, but the actual vinyl making process is special. We really value the analog sound and enjoy albums from the late 70s, early 80s. I personally collect them. It's romantic, and at the same time we feel more passionate making a vinyl disc than a CD. We're not saying that CDs are bad, they're great, but we as a band have a special appreciation for vinyl making. I think that Felipe makes a great point, it's about having something tangible, you can basically feel the process. There has to be something to remind us that we're here <laughs>. Something to tell us that the song finished and we have to get up and turn the disc over. Of course. It's a call for us to hold on to certain  things–not everything can be replaced. It's the physicality of an object which is what happens with the band as well. You can millions of MP3s and listen to them anywhere, which is fine, but there is a certain beauty in getting up to reach for the record and placing the needle on it and playing it. You can hear the sound waves with out putting the needle on it, you can change the tempo. It's like you can almost touch the music and we love it. At the same time, we're not leaving behind the digital world. It's just that you get a CD, someone opens it, pops it into the computer and it becomes an MP3 and that's it. Computers now a days don't even bring a CD drive. It's about going slowing down a little and enjoying things. As human beings, there is something very valuable in having an actual process for something and carrying it out from beginning to end. To feel that, to touch that, is important because you feel that you are able. 
Bionica: To know that we are alive.
Maku Soundsystem: Exactly! Imagine, the last three albums have been recorded on a tape without a computer. We were all basically in one room playing live in an analog form the way that you would record before. It doesn't matter if there's a mistake, you can do it over until it all comes out right. It's not about being perfect. Mistakes are part of everyone's reality. The band gains more energy playing live. Exactly! Which is what's important, it's what needs to be captured. 
Bionica: I had an art teacher, also from Bogota, that would tell me 'don't erase–work with your mistakes.' You have to work with them. 
Maku Soundystem: Of course.
Bionica: It's the reality of life, because you can't go back and delete to start over. 
Maku Soundsystem: Working with tapes is a very interesting process because you have a certain time limit. If you have a 15 minute time frame for side A, you either use what you just recorded, if not you have do it again. When you limit your options in certain things, you force yourself to work harder and make better things. 
Bionica: Can you give me an interesting fact about Maku?
Maku Soundsystem: More than an interesting fact, I think it's more of an important testimonial. We just got back from our tour in Germany and Denmark and I've lived here in the US for 13 years. I came here with a tourist visa when I was 14 and went to high school and college here. I was undocumented for quite some time and I have DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, an executive action order issued Obama about 3 years ago. It basically pardons you from being deported and gives a you the opportunity to have a work permit. You don't have a resident status & are not able to leave the country unless you have special permission and I was able to receive that special permit as a musician via DACA to go abroad. We were able to break down certain walls via music! 
Bionica: Thank you so much!

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