Boleros, Rave & Syncopa: Revealing the Other Side of Latin Electronic with Sinego

Latin electronic music already has a long and interesting journey behind it. Those early adventures raised key names like Nortec Collective, the Tijuana project dedicated to fusing electronica with regional Mexican music like norteña and tambora. Or like the Buenos Aires-based label ZZK Records that marked a before and after with its inspiring first compilation titled Cumbia Digital. It was precisely under this team that we found the artistic aliases of Pedro Canale (Chancha Vía Circuito) and Gaby Kerpel (King Coya), who entrusted their electronic mission not only to tropical beats but also to folkloric sounds.

The Latin electronic music scene has been changing, a bit as the dancefloor has also become a multicultural space, where our bodies surrender to a kind of magical and magnetic ritual. It has also evolved because more and more Latin artists are focusing on their musical roots. “For many years, artists from Europe and the US have sampled traditional and indigenous music from Latin America. Petrona Martínez and Totó la Mampocina, both from Colombia, have been sampled a lot. Many cumbias have also been sampled. And many sounds from Brazil. And they, in their own way, end up giving these samples their own sound,” tells Sinego, an active DJ and promising music producer.

Born in Bogotá but based in Mexico City, Sinego encourages Latin American artists to sample those sounds that come from their regions, even creating their own samples. “Electronic music – house, techno – has always been based on sampling. So, as a Latin American artist, I think it’s time to give our own interpretation of those sounds. And happily, this is something that is already happening,” he explains. Sinego constantly seeks to establish these cross-cultural bridges in his music. “I always include a techno kick drum, or an electro-sounding bass: elements that someone who listens and dances to very mainstream electronic music can recognize. But at the same time, I add percussion that points more towards Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic, or guitar sounds that refer to Spain, Colombia, or Ecuador. I mean, I add more unique Latin sounds to it.”


This coming and going, building and crossing bridges, places Sinego on an artistic frontier, swinging between the mainstream and the underground, making use of basic elements of danceable electronica but also rescuing quite eclectic sounds from Latin America. The work of the Colombian DJ and producer is usually based on these legacy sounds: there he finds the inspiration to set up his own rave, his ceremony on the dancefloor. Now, if he has to choose a first genre to make everyone move, he doesn’t doubt it: it’s cumbia. “Cumbia is definitely something that greatly connects all of Latin America and immediately inspires dancing. It’s highly influenced by indigenous cultures, I think it’s very tribal, it takes you into a trance, and that’s why it can be related so well to electronic music.”

Syncopation is a beautiful rhythmic contradiction, a strategy to break the monotony by displacing the natural accent of a beat. This is exactly how Latin rhythms add a magical touch to the global electronic scene. “I think electronic music has always been about going into a trance, right? Let’s say, when you listen to techno and you get to that ceremonial moment, where the same sound is repeated over and over again until you go into exactly that state, like a trance,” explains Sinego. “What do Latin rhythms bring to this trance, to this moment as a ritual? Well, that syncopation allows for certain variations in a loop that lasts for many hours: it doesn’t take you out of that ceremonial moment, but it gives you something new that surprises you. That’s why the fusion is so magical.”


Of course, there’s more traditional music from Latin America coloring the global rave. “Everything that surrounds salsa and mambo also easily merges with electronic music, because both are very percussive,” says Sinego. However, if there’s a music genre that characterizes him, it is undoubtedly the bolero. “The bolero thing is exactly what I do, it’s not something that other artists necessarily do. I like this wave of Latin American singer-songwriters, it’s kind of obscure, even somewhat nostalgic, especially for what is usually heard there. It happens that Latin rhythms are always very happy, but this is much darker. As far as Latin genres go, the bolero is fairly dark.”


“At first I consumed bolero without necessarily knowing what it was… I used to go to a restaurant in Colombia when I was a child called ‘Mi Vieja Antioquia’. So, you’d go to this restaurant for dinner and there would always be a bolero trio or quartet playing. And all that always caught my attention: how that music set the mood for family nights in Colombia,” Sinego tells, pointing out how his love affair with the bolero began. “Then, when I came to Mexico, I discovered that people consume a lot of bolero at parties, beyond the reigning pop music of each era. So, I realized how the love for boleros is connected throughout Latin America. It also happened when I was in Spain, because of the essence of the Spanish guitar that many boleros have. It has been a process: wherever I go I always end up falling in love with the bolero, over and over again. So I began to trace the roots, to follow its path, and to see how each country in Latin America has added a part to it.”

Sinego would love to become a Latin exponent of the global electronic scene as is Bomba Estereo. His magnetic beats of deep house mixing with the timeless melodies of the bolero can take him very far. “The good thing about bolero is that it allows you to connect more melodically and to have more lyrics,” he adds. Another important name also appears among his references: Gustavo Santaolalla, especially for what he’s done with Bajofondo Tango Club, a significant project in terms of electronic fusion in Latin America.


It’s no secret that Sinego is drawn to the past of Latin American music, to those legacy sounds he dives into for inspiration – from cumbia to salsa, from bolero to mambo. But he also connects with his contemporary peers. In fact, there are some Latin EDM artists that he highly recommends. “He doesn’t try to copy anyone and his music connects with many people, he’s a great Mexican artist who stands out above all for his honesty in the field,” says Sinego about Roberto Matthews, better known as YoSoyMatt, the wheelchair-bound DJ who shakes up the most vibrant parties in Aztec lands.


“I like that ‘rave in your language’ thing,” says Sinego, alluding to one of the slogans of the independent Mexican label Phisica. In relation to this team, he focuses mainly on BadWolf. And complete the list with other local artists who go much more towards techno like Rebolledo and Andre VII. “These are artists that I’m really liking because they have that sound that makes you move on the dancefloor, it’s dark, it has a very aggressive sound, very industrial, but at the same time they do it in Spanish and they do it cool.”

Is the underground electronic scene still misunderstood? Sinego believes that, rather, what was understood as mainstream is changing, becoming a kind of niche given the great diversification of musical tastes. In any case, what’s real – and what counts – still happens on the dancefloor. “I think that the big names in the music industry do realize what’s happening with Latin EDM. They know that the dancefloor is where things are shaking, where people are connecting the most, and that’s why they keep focusing there, they poke around to see what’s going on there.”