Rumba: Gilles Peterson Talks


Gilles Peterson's contribution to the world of eclectic electronic music remains as prevalent as ever. In the coming months he will release a curated compilation, the outcome of a project which has evolved from building relationships with the musical communities of Cuba. Titled ' Havana Club Rumba Sessions' it is a world music come club extravaganza which features the likes of Pépé Braddock, Motor City Drum Ensemble, Al Dobson Jr and débruit on remix duties, as well as many others. 

He describes his connection to a musical world which is often misundestood and misrepresented by Western culture and explains the inspiration behind the project. 

"It's just really come from years of having built up a relationship with Cuba. Being over there, it's one thing I kept being drawn to when I was walking around on my own. That, more than going to concerts, is where I've found things are really exciting over there: the sounds you hear coming out of people's homes, ceramonies, things you're not actually allowed into or part of. I think that rumba's been massively misunderstood or misinterpreted outside Cuba, because of things like Strictly Come Dancing or whatever. A lot of people's idea of it is so far from what the music is and means to people in Cuba. What's exciting to me in hearing it, too, is the connections between Cuba and places like Brazil. Coming as a result of the slave trade, some of that cross-cultural overlap has some inevitable similarity. Be it Santeria in Cuba or Candomblé in Brazil, it feels like there's a connection there." 

There is a sense of importance surrounding the roots of the project. It is clear that there is an aim to inform, to educate and expand ones knowledge of the rumba genre and it's personal relevance to Gilles is noteable. An accompanying documentary screening will run from the 30th of january to the 28th of February which will help to expose the realities behind the recorded sessions that feature on the album. He reflects on the importance of integration between modern day electronic music and that of a more worldly descent. 

"As I've had more experience with traditional musicians, while also being a DJ playing electronic music, making connections between the two is something I've become more familiar with. It's something that I've always done to an extent, and I've considered it as sort of my role to bridge those gaps in a way. Going back to the 80s and 90s, I've always been trying to connect the world of club music with the other things I've been interested in. So now bringing together the likes of Steve Reid and Jay Electronica, or having Mala play with Roberto Fonseca, it's something that comes naturally to me." 

The choice of remix selectors on the 'Rumba' compilation is strong and focused, the sensibilities of the artists involved make sense in the context of a portrayal of Cuban music. Gilles explains the overall interest towards the project from it's contributors. 

"Everyone was very keen to get involved. Pepe Bradock even did us an extra mix for free. Everyone was given the same set of stems then we really just left them to it. We recorded the different key rhythms of rumba with some of the island's best musicians and then gave them the parts to do what they wanted. I'm really happy with the whole thing. I like the MCDE mix a lot, the Pablo Fierro is good for a straight up club banger, the South London lot's mixes : Reg Omas Mamode IV, Mo Kolours, Tenderlonious, Al Dobson Jr are all very nice.  It was very important to me to have débruit involved. He's not very well known outside France, but he's been doing some really exciting stuff for a while. He's also more comfortable working with so-called world music than some other producers. I don't know if that's something to do with the musical culture in France. Poirier, too, was relaly good to get involved and I feel like he's doing something similar but from a Canadian perspective. It's great, I feel like I have a different kind of mix to play for every different club situation." 

Tickets and screenings of the documentary at the ICA can be found HERE. International screenings can be found HERE.

Digital release lands on the 11th of March and Vinyl on the 1st of April.