In Conversation With Bosq (Ubiquity Records)
Written by James Zaremba on 27th March 2018
Throughout his life, Pablo Picasso always insisted that an artist’s work should respond to the world around them. Obviously not alone in this sentiment, musicians spanning all genres have long used their art to voice socio-political messages; standing up for themselves, and their culture, in the face of adversity.
It is interesting to see now, in an era of incomparable political change, how the musical milieu of the United States, and the world, will answer when confronted with the untamed rhetoric of the Trump Administration.
One such artist speaking out through their music is Bosq. A globally-minded producer, looking to draw inspiration from across borders, languages and cultures – his outlook on music is characterised by the very same mentality that fuelled the work of Picasso. His latest LP, Love and Resistance, challenges Trump’s America through a marriage of active resistance and international unity.
Ahead of his forthcoming LP on Ubiquity Records, Melodic Distraction caught up with Bosq to talk about his latest release, life outside of the USA, and his love for Afro-infused grooves.
“I think the key to overcoming the current right-wing xenophobia emanating from leaders like Trump, Netanyahu, Orban, Erdogan and May is twofold. Active disruptive resistance, and as idealistic and hippy as it may sound, showing love to each other and defying their efforts to have us fear our fellow humans.”
Speaking to Melodic Distraction from across the pond, Bosq tells us that his latest record is one with a resolutely international message.
“People divided and fearful of each other are weak and distracted, leaders have been using this to great effect in the USA forever. Fear mongering tends to start falling apart when people are exposed to one another’s cultures and beliefs.
Collaborating musically across borders and cultures can have some similar effects. Beginning to appreciate things from other cultures is going to immediately break down the walls constructed by the rhetoric, even if just a little bit. Now I have no delusions of grandeur that my album is going to single-handedly change the world, but I know I have to try to be a part of the solution somehow.”
In 2016, Bosq sought pastures new when the pressure of an evolving political climate in the US met with his desire to explore the music of Colombia.
There were many reasons I moved to Medellin, a lot of them dealing with the politics of the United States. Both at home and abroad, there were aspects of the administration I did not want to support…
Certainly another huge reason was to immerse myself in Afro-Latin music and try to learn and understand it more wholly. It started to feel disingenuous for me to be studying from a distance. I’ve focused a lot less on digging and more on practicing my actual musicianship, learning to play more authentic styles directly from people who’ve grown up with it their whole lives. I do like going out and searching for vinyl gems from time-to-time but I get way more of a high out of writing original stuff!
I’ve also had the opportunity to collaborate with some incredible musicians so far! Justo Valdez of the legendary Son Palenque, Nidia Gongora from the Pacific Coast (who has an incredible catalog of her own work and lots of collaborations), and Victor Hugo Rodriguez from one of the pioneering Afro-Colombian fusion groups, Mojarra Electrica.
Those are all more folkloric style musicians though – In the world of cumbia & salsa, I have worked with Mauro Abogánster from the great Medellin salsa group, Sonora 8. I definitely dream of collaborating with Fruko, who aside from his classic “Fruko Y Sus Tesos”, was also the mastermind behind the more psychedelic tropical stuff like Afrosound & Wganda Kenya.
Taking such inspiration from countries dotted across the South American and African continents, we were curious to find out more of Bosq’s own heritage, and where his love of Afro-Latin music had its roots.
“I draw heavily from Afro-Latin music and its intersections with other types of music like disco & funk. I’m a typical North American myself…mostly-Irish mutt, with some Welsh, English, Scottish heritage mixed in there. The way I discovered this music, well… I’d say a lot of it comes down to being an obsessive seeker of new (to me) music. Then there are the times that certain things just grab you in a way you can’t explain.
I grew up in an area with a heavy Jamaican musical influence so Caribbean music was always an obsession. Later digging through funk and soul (starting with hiphop samples of course) I came upon Latin-funk like Nico Gomez, Roberto Roena, and Ray Barretto. That was a gateway to their more straight-up salsa (especially in the cases of Roena and Barretto) which really just resonated so strongly with me. Once that door was open I got completely sucked in and went deeper into regional folkloric music like bullerengue, currulao and all the different types of cumbia from across the continent…
I will say from an upbringing standpoint, having a sister adopted from Korea opened up my eyes to the world in an interesting way from a really young age. I was like, “Wow, OK, there is an entire world out there where people do almost everything in completely different ways! I thought it was incredible and I think I’ve carried that appreciation for the diversity of the world with me my whole life.”
In a similar way, Bosq details for us his love of radio – a platform free from pretence and the physical constraints of other musical environments.
“Radio is a great tool for exposing people to new music without any of the pressure of a dance floor, bar sales, ticket sales and so on. It’s just you and maybe some friends playing music you love for an audience you can’t see or really get too worried about. I try to maintain that mentality when playing out, with the focus on exposing people to new things and not getting caught up in chasing a fickle crowd, but you do have to maintain a certain energy and give them some kind of familiarity at some point…With radio it’s pure freedom!”
Touching on the subject of testing out new music, it was exciting to hear what Bosq has planned for the rest of an already impressive 2018.
“After the release of ‘Love and Resistance’ on April 6th, I will be releasing another full-length album on Fania Records, more devoted to Afro-Colombian sounds. During all this, I’m also working on an album for my project ‘Body Music’ – that’s me and Vito Roccoforte from The Rapture. There’s some remixes in there as well and I suppose I’ll need to get out and tour some more at some point too! A huge goal is also to get a show together where I can start playing this music live with a band.”