Selectorchico™: from political exile to the Club Subtropical.


 Selectorchico™, whose real name is Nandy Cabrera, is a DJ and producer from Uruguay, doing his things for 20 years now. He is our special guest at the first Couvre x Chefs PARTY ! which will take place at L’Alimentation Générale, Paris, on August 1st. Meeting with a music passionate, great connoisseur of the subtropical music movement, actor aware and analyst of  post-migratory phenomenons.

CxC: Can you go back to the genesis of your project “Selectorchico™“?

 Selectorchico™: I was born in Sweden, my family was a political refugee, then I lived in Austria and Switzerland for 10 years, in Geneva. I began to use the name Selectorchico™ 20 years ago, when I arrived in Uruguay. I started in hip-hop, it was a very small movement at that time in Uruguay. I was 16, 17 years old. So I started DJing as a hip-hop DJ. I was also in a band called Platano Macho as a guest MC. It was in that moment when I discovered the production of beats.

My activity as Selectorchico™ turned slowly. There were many steps and I took various postures. In the late 90s I was mixing drum n bass instead. I then studied to be a sound engineer. From 24 to 30 years old I worked on many movies, video games … but I continued to compose my own songs at hand, making my mixes etc … So I’ve always had these two activities in parallel. Then I had the idea with a producer friend called Nectar, to organize regular parties where we started inviting people who had never been in Uruguay: Chancha Via Ciruito, Fauna, Villa Diamante … and many artists of Argentinian ZZK label. The idea was to mix these artists to the stage that we were going up in Uruguay, which consisted of different proposals ranging from reggaeton to cumbia, through dancehall…

I also released some works under my other stage name Nandy Cabrera, it is more personal projects, less dancefloor-oriented, such as the Selknam piece that won the prize for electroacoustic composition Becerra-Schmidt 2012.

“Selknam”, produced by Selectorchico™ under his real name : Nandy Cabrera.

 Revisitando Macondo, the roots of Subtropical music.

CxC: You’re currently on a European tour to present your project Revisitando Macondo, can you explain a bit more in detail what is it?

 Selectorchico™: I present this project as an exploration of subtropical music; I will begin by explaining to you what I mean by subtropical music. Uruguay is not a country that can be considered in the tropical fringe so we are away from all the music it plays, that of Puerto Rico, the Plena for example, or the Colombian Cumbia. In the 50s, groups began to arrive in Uruguay which born in this Caribbean fringe, tropical, like the Sonora Matancera and other groups of the Caribbean region. It had much more to do with local people from Uruguay who discovered it and really liked the new rhythms. That’s the way that Uruguay has adopted this Caribbean music.

What happened was, the common thread behind all this was the African diasporas.

In Uruguay there is a great tradition of African music with the genre called Candombe which is a way of playing the drum very characteristic to Uruguay: usually it is 3 -chico drums, piano and repique- of different sizes which each of them plays a complementary rhythm.

Then there was a composer from Uruguay called Pedro Ferreira, who can be compared to the Duke Ellington of Afro Uruguayan music, who began to acclaim at Candombe building the basic repertoire with songs like Biricuyamba or mi sangre ta’ alborotá. This gave rise to a first generation of groups in the 60s, playing music with Caribbean influences Sonora Borinquen Combo Camaguey, Cienfuegos Sonora. However, I want to clarify that the Caribbean influences were rather seen out of context, since replayed some periphery, a context in which they were not born. So that’s why I refer to the term as “subtropical” because they are music from the “tropical” fringe of Latin America, but played back at the outer fringe of this, further south, hence the term “subtropical”. This finding is one of the conductors of my project Revisitando Macondo.

Mixtape of  Selectorchico™, Revisitando Macondo vol.1, 100% vinyl.
CxC: Your tour began with the presentation VAMOS! in England, early June. What is VAMOS! and how were you selected to play there?

Selectorchico™: I have come in contact with the director and festival programmer, whose father is Colombian, who was interested in the culture of Latin America, first at the University of Newcastle. It’s been five years that the festival exists, and as there is a strong Latino community there, it works pretty well. The north of England is very open to Latin or foreign sounds (This is where Jimy Hendrix first played, before London), the Afro Culture etc … We got in touch via SoundCloud, he enjoyed my work and asked me to come and participate in the festival. So it motivated me to start a small European tour by taking VAMOS! as a starting point.

CxC: What did you learn from that experience?

Selectorchico™: The festival was very interesting, one could see people like the Peruvian visual artist Elliot Tupac, the group of Ladies of Midnight Blue (funk afrobeat). It allowed me to gain a lot of knowledge, contacts, with whom we are already considering collaborations … it was a very productive meeting indeed. There were a lot of migrants, people from other countries who found themselves in England by force of circumstance.

It’s almost an event born in the post-colonial era, finally generated by migratory movements and colonial European countries.

I see it as a positive consequence of negative phenomena such as colonialism. It is very interesting that in today’s day the expatriate community to connect with the local community and share that. This is a phenomenon that really captivates me, and that’s what I mean by positive consequence of a negative phenomenon. What I want to do when I am in London, it won’t be to see the royal guard, but rather go to South London to know a maximum of local communities, visit the Jamaican neighborhoods or look in  African or Indian record shops. What motivates me is to make a maximum of meetings, many people as possible to work with, either in terms of composition or sound engineering, or for the booking of the Club Subtropical parties.



Club Subtropical, the most post-territorial party possible.

CxC: In Montevideo you sit on the collective / digital label Club Subtropical, that also includes the very good Lechuga Zafiro, which we welcome. What is your role within the group and what are your activities?

Selectorchico™: We formed the collective in 2010 with Nectar. Then Superchango joined us and Lechuga Zafiro in 2011. The visual identity, plastic and graphic, is made by Nectar, VJ and co-founder of Club Subtropical. When we gave the name subtropical the idea was to bring a musical proposal to make people dance, a little different from what was already out there. Covering an area which was not represented in Montevideo, but which nevertheless had fans. The first idea was therefore to create a different dance space of what was there, and that would have a non-territorial identity. I am a fan of many scenes of world music (the Angolan kuduro, funk of the favela, dubstep from Bristol …). Therefore, what interested me was to be able to make a more post-territorial party possible. A reggaeton party all night long, an evening 100% digital cumbia … it bothers me. I prefer to take people out of the usual paths.

I really like establish connections between a sound from Ghana which is 30 years old, and a track from Mexico that’s 20 days old.

At first we especially invited people from the Argentinian scene: Chancha Via Circuito, Negro Dub … and then internationally as the French man dÉbruit.

This year we were invited at the Cultural Center of Spain in Montevideo. We conducted a performance for everyone: Nectar, Lechuga Zafiro, Superchango, and I Selectorchico. This is where I presented for the first time the project Revisitando Macondo, exhibition vinyl covers, dj set, video interviews and Chico Ferry as a special guest. Lechuga performed a multimedia piece of his new project called Salviatek. Superchango presented his work Conexión Sonidera … The leitmotif of the presentation was to show the connections between the cultures of different countries like Colombia, Peru …

This was a presentation born post-migration, post-territorial.

We organize the residence Club Subtropical in different places, but Montevideo is faced with a real problem with regard to medium-sized infrastructure to mount this kind of evenings.


CxC: You invited the French producer dÉbruit there a while ago. How did the connection happen?

Selectorchico™: We also work with the organizers of the festival Soco who invited dÉbruit and we wished to invite him to a Club Subtropical party for the occasion. dÉbruit were rather working on oriental rhythms at that time, which was different from what we usually offered, but it went very well and it was an interesting exchange!

CxC: Tell us a little about your colleague Lechuga Zafiro, do you have collaborations together?

Selectorchico™:  We shared a place with Lechuga in which everyone had his studio. I shared with him a recording that I had made on the Ramirez beach (very close to my home in Parque Rodo in Montevideo) during the celebration of Iemanjá, February 2, which is a ceremony to the goddess of sea. I have therefore registered the traditional group Afrogama there, it is a question of a female choir singing songs and Afro-Uruguayan prayers Candomble. These are just drums and vocals, the music that pleased him was the repeated pattern Eleggua quiere tamborEleggua is the guardian of the roads, it is a question of the same entity as Papa Legba, in Loa Haitians. The result pleased me very much because at the time my tour also represented a certain mysticism. (the song isn’t released yet, but you can listen to it at the begining of this excellent Lechuga’s mixtape, NDLR)

selectorchico-logo-kultura-couvre-x-chefsSelectorchico™ logo, designed by Kultura.

CxC: How’s your tour? What are your next dates before August 1st where we can find you in Paris?

Selectorchico™: I am in Madrid and Barcelona, ​​and I work with an agency called Offbeat. This is a young agency that is dedicated to invite artists – including the Latin scene of America to make them play in Spain, go check their page :

CxC: What are your next projects?

Selectorchico™: The tour thus continues in Spain, and then you end up at L’Alimentation Générale, Couvre x Chefs PARTY ! in Paris on August 1st, then Geneva. In late August I returned to England for two new dates. I’m still looking a few dates in Italy or the south of France in late August. Then I return to Uruguay, Buenos Aires and Paraguay. I would then continue the tour in Mexico, Cuba, Lima …

I am also currently recording an album with 79 years old singer Chico Ferry, the Conjunto Casino, we have the chance to be in the Casa de la Cultura Afro-uruguaya. House of Afro-Uruguayan culture .

The Macondo disc will come out on the Spanish label Vampi Soul, we will soon be mastering, precisely in Madrid. And I still have lots of projects I hope to show, mount, set up, move to places where they are unknown etc. ojalá, inch’allah as they say!

As you can well imagine, if you want to welcome Selectorchico, talk with him about post-colonial phenomenons, while drinking a mojito, or just enjoy subtropical music, see you on Saturday August 1st at L’Alimentation Générale!
Photos © Fede Racchi.

Traduction by Ryan Lavoine & Sándalo Alquitrán.

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