September 28, 2018

Interview with EDM Pioneer and Star, DJ Enrique Cadena Marin

DJ Enrique Cadena Marin’s music career started off as mere experimentation. Influenced by classical Latin American folk music, classic pop, and reggae, along with contemporary rap and indie, Cadena Marin blended high-energy beats into a unique concoction of melodies. The results didn’t end in a cacophony of arrangements, though. Instead, DJ Enrique created a new genre of EDM, Tero Dancehall, which catapulted him onto the main stage as one of Latin America’s fastest rising EDM artists while introducing his Latin American musical roots to the attention of diverse online audiences.

Growing up in Uruguay, Enrique Cadena Marin was always interested in the technical aspects of music production, listening to traditional folk compositions or identifying patterns in the swing and salsa beats he’d watch as his parents danced in the kitchen at night. Dabbling in composition, he briefly took up instruments including the guitar, candombe drums, and marimba.

As a teenager in the early 2000s, he witnessed Uruguay’s financial crisis unfold in an era of instability. Like many others who struggled, these formative years were spent in his home town’s local dance halls where he could escape the daily challenges, focusing on the early techno and house mixes. Around this time, DJ Enrique traveled to the Uruguayan countryside and Ecuadorian cities, the latter being where he was introduced to reggae and Quito’s Plaza Foch DJ scene by his cousins.

Further peaking his interest in technical production, he decided to blend traditional music genres of his childhood with his desire for a DJs sound desk and mixers.

Tero Dancehall was formed through his experimentation with various musical genres and, to his surprise, these musical elements were a resounding hit. In the summer of 2017, DJ Enrique created one of the summer’s hottest remixes, Wolfgang Gartner’s “Illmerica” vs. A$AP Rocky featuring Skillrex and Birdy Nam Nam’s “Wild for the Night.” The instant hit soared to over 10,000 plays on SoundCloud.

Incorporating these elements has led DJ Enrique to carve out a unique niche in the EDM scene, complimented for his clean production, freeing melodies and a culturally significant fusion of Latin American influences.

Now, within the online streaming and festival circuits, Enrique Cadena Marin is opening a wider door for the arrival of Latin American folk music in more mainstream dance circles.

What is Tero Dancehall and do you think it’s helping to popularize Latin American music?

Tero Dancehall is an EDM genre that blends contemporary tracks, from popular genres, with folk and salsa rhythms. Swing elements are often weaved into the chorus. Artistically, it represents a sense of liberation from everyday life while also speaking to the largely undocumented, mystical themes of Latin American musical culture.

Regarding popularity, Latin American music has become a trending style in the past few years. “Despacito” was one insanely popular hit. I can’t say if my music has helped contribute to this popularization of Latin American rhythms — I still have a good niche fanbase — but I’m sure it’s helped expose [Latin American] folk elements to EDM audiences. If you want to help diversify what people hear on the radio or online, then combining these traditional songs with today’s contemporary samples can help give Latin folk some overdue exposure.

How did you decide to create Tero Dancehall?

When I was a teenager, I kept on coming up against this idea of having to stay in a specific genre; it was too claustrophobic and selective. But I started to travel more and explore the world around me. I was influenced by sounds of my home country, but also ordinary sounds like sirens screaming or tractors plowing fields. I also liked the sounds of trees blowing or water running. Where ever I was, I could find inspiration. There’s a natural flow to it. So, naturally, I was drawn to electronic dance, and it was cathartic for me to create.

Tero Dancehall fell out of my love for contemporary and older musical influences. Older musical influences would obviously be the classic Latin pop or swing I grew up listening to, but also the folk elements I started to explore as a teenager. I like putting those rhythms and samples in my music because it really evokes this sense of being in a certain time and place. It’s all about context, but I eventually found that there are no rules when it comes to making music.

What themes do you like to explore when creating music?

At the intersection of tech represented through EDM foundations — and traditional music lies a very fundamental human value; the need to belong and communicate. I love the way culture, music or otherwise, can be shaped by these two themes and I wanted to represent it in my production. At the same time, online streaming and emerging tech are creating broader more powerful ways to build diverse communities that listen and bond around the same sounds.

I found that there are similarities between all forms of music, but also diverse groups of people. It’s about this sense of freedom which I hope my music embodies for them. I think people consume music as a way to make themselves feel connected to others or something omnipresent.

You talk about how the theme of freedom influences your work. How do you think your music can impact listeners in politically upended times?

I think about a lot of the political movements a lot. Music has always been a resource for escape or cultural mysticism. It’s been used to tell stories around a fire or as part of a satirical play. It can create a sense of cultural heritage. Using Latin American rhythms which identifies this heritage shows the importance of self-care and the fight for our culture to be respected by outsiders. I think this music impacts listeners to be themselves, to feel good and know themselves. In politically unstable times, that’s revolutionary.

That’s another theme I’ve explored in my work, the oscillation between the mystical unknown like different sounds and the familiar, between losing control and feeling stable, home and external worlds. You can both lose and find yourself in the music.

What is the one word people would use to describe you?

I don’t know that you could sum anyone up with just one word. But it’s up to other people to decide how they resonate with me, my sound. But like myself, my interests, I think my music is pretty multifaceted; like people.

I hope that my music gives everyone, including my fans, the opportunity to explore each facet of their personalities or the way they express themselves. But I hope it also exposes them to freedom inherent in all of us. The need to be in control and to be free. I think introspection but also a charismatic, emotive nature really defines me and my music.

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