2015 March Film and Interactive


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2 8 S X S W o r l d | F I L M / I A M A R C H 2 0 1 5 | S X S W. C O M atias Aguayo's Cómeme label is many things, but being easy to define is not one of them. Founded in 2009 and growing out of an impromptu series of South American street parties called BumBumBox, this lovably odd dance imprint is often celebrated for its distinctly Latin flavor, but those willing to take a closer listen will quickly detect elements of disco, Chicago house, techno, post-punk and assorted category-defying, left-field sounds. "The Latin rhythms are always coming back in what we do and are always reappearing," admits Aguayo. "There are too many Latinos on the label for that not to happen." At the same time, he views Cómeme as a label with what he calls an "old-school new-school vibe," with many releases recalling the freewheeling spirit of classic house and techno. Cómeme also embraces that its artists are open to sounds and styles from around the globe and encourages intermingling, which makes sense, seeing that Aguayo himself speaks five lan- guages. Born in Chile, Aguayo actually spent much of his early life in Germany, where his par- ents relocated when he was a child in order to escape their homeland's oppressive military regime. In the German city of Cologne, Aguayo first found a musical home, taking part in projects such as Zimt (with Kompakt co-founder Michael Mayer) and the seminal min- imal techno outfit Closer Musik (with Dirk Leyers), before properly stepping out on his own about a decade ago. Over time, his DJing, not to mention an innate wanderlust, took him around the globe, and he began to connect with artists who would eventually become some of Cómeme's first signings, including Mexico's Rebolledo, Chile's Diegors and Argentina's Djs Pareja. Noting similarities between these producers' work and his own, not to mention that of old friends from Cologne like Christian S, Aguayo eventually felt an obligation to act. "I thought it wouldn't make sense to just spread them all over and try to find their place on some already existing labels," Aguayo explains. "It was something that grew out of a necessity, not so much a conceptual thing. I actu- ally never wanted to do a label." Over the past five years, Cómeme has issued nearly 30 EPs and 12"s, along with several compilations and a smattering of full-length artist albums. The label roster has grown significantly along the way, now including the likes of Ana Helder (Argentina), Carisma (Argentina), Sano (Colombia), Philipp Gorbachev (Russia) and Lena Willikens (Germany). In the months ahead, new additions such as Colombia's Dany F and Romania's Borusiade will be joining the fold with proper Cómeme debuts. Aguayo's wife, Avril Yamayo (who is originally from Mexico), effectively runs Cómeme, and the label, noting electronic music's regression in gender equality during recent years, has chosen not to sign any more male artists until Cómeme has reached a level of gender parity. "I think it has to be an active process," says Aguayo. "We can't just wait for female artists to appear. We have to look for them. We have to support them." Aguayo himself has settled in Berlin and set up a studio called The District Union, where he often collaborates with Cómeme art- ists and takes an active role in helping to shape their releases. "I see myself as a producer, but a producer in an old-school sense," he says. "It just means that I help to find which tracks we would like to work on, what would all together make a good EP, how we maybe can replace some sounds, and things like that." He continues, "I'm never so much looking for the person who has everything finished and is ready with everything"; instead, he prefers to work with people that he "can really put into a dialogue or somehow fit into this puzzle of things." Of course, Aguayo also con- tinues to make music of his own. Later this year, he will debut Rio Negro, a collaborative, salsa-based project he recorded in Medellin with Gladkazuka, Sano and Natalia Valencia. Ahead of that, he has also announced El Rudo del House, a four-part 12" series devoted to what he describes as "heav y, pounding dance tracks." In a bit of extra pageantry, the project will also include custom masks, costumes and dance steps, all of which will be introduced via a series of instructional dance videos. Once again, Cómeme is bucking con- vention and having plenty of fun while doing it. "Somebody asked me the other day if Cómeme is defined by tracks that if you play them in a party at the wrong moment, it can empty the dance floor in 20 seconds, but if you play them at the right moment, it can make the party explode, and I think it's a little bit like that," says Aguayo. "I very much appreciate the DJ who finds the right moment for playing a song that maybe is risky and with that, somehow achieves to surprise the people on the dance floor." M a t i a s A g u ay o w il l p e r fo rm a lo n g w i t h ot h e r C ó m e m e a r t i s t s a t E m - p ire C o n t rol Ro o m (6 0 6 E . 7 t h St) o n We d n es d ay nig h t , M a rch 1 8 . S e e s ch e d ule. s x s m o r SX S WG O a p p fo r d e ta il s . Cómeme: Dance Label is Hard to Define, Easy to Admire by Shawn Reynaldo M Le n a W il l i ke n s C O U R T E S Y O F C Ó M E M E

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