Cultura Londres Bring
Latin Flavor to the UK
5/1/06 - LatinRapper.com exclusive interview
Latin Rap from London?
While it's true that Americans generally don't look to the UK
for up and coming rappers, Cultura Londres is definitely
bringing about a change for Latino artists on the other side
of the Atlantic. Consisting of mic wielder Tiago, singer
Suzi, Rich handling production and guitars, Juan on the Bass,
Etien the DJ and the renowned Eric Bobo of Cypress Hill fame
handling the percussion, Cultura Londres has crafted a new
sound which is winning fans from London to Los Angeles.
Rich and Tiago took time away from their music to fill us in
on Latin Rap in the UK in this exclusive interview.
LatinRapper.com: What are your backgrounds?
Rich: I was born and raised in London, my family comes from
Spain, Portugal, and Ireland if you look back a few
generations, but I’m not about to claim anything other than
English really since we are talking over 100 years ago at
Tiago: Born in London then moved to South America when I was
less than a year old, spent most of my time growing up in
Argentina and Bolivia and then moved back to London when I was
Rich: Juan was born in London and his parents are both from
Spain, Bobo is from Puerto Rican heritage, Suzi is English and
Etienne is from English, Dominican Heritage.
What albums have you released so far?
Rich: I’m holding back on releasing a full album till we have
made more of a name for ourselves on the underground level
with our Debut EP “Todo” and the follow up EP “Cuando” in
progress. It’s important for me to make sure we have built a
strong foundation on an independent level before we go about
trying to push the group globally. A lot of artists around
today get caught up in the money culture and don’t even bother
with the underground scene as it might seem a bit too much
hard work which is there mistake as 99% of artists don’t go
platinum fact, then they have to face reality and realize that
they gotta put the work in but by that time their reputation
has already been marked and people can smell a fake.
What are you presently working on at the moment?
Rich: We have just finished up our “Todo” EP which is five
tracks and two bonus music videos that’s coming out through
Altered Beats. At the moment we are working on the follow up
to this EP called “Cuando” which will be more of a melodic
chilled EP with heavy beats unlike “Todo” which is a lot more
toward the darker grimier kinda sound, we are looking to have
the “Cuando” EP out by June July hopefully. As well as this we
are working on the debut album which will be a new sound for
the group, a mix of Cypress Hill, Black Eyed Peas, Gorillaz
What artists have you collaborated with in the past?
Rich: We have been fortunate to work with some great people so
far and they all appear on the “Todo” Ep. On the EP we have a
track with Kemo the Blaxican called “Fiesta” which came out
real well, it’s a party, old school club style track. We also
have a track with El Gordo called “Todo” which we have also
shot a video for which comes out any day now. We have a heavy
breakbeat, guitar track on there called “Systema” where we
hooked up with Sekreto from the Sones Del Mexside and finally
a rolling breaks track called “La Piedra” which features a
group called “Big Quarters” from Minneapolis.
Tiago: We have also linked up with Frost from Sindicato Del
Argentino a couple of times but these projects have yet to
come to light.
Any new artists you will collaborate with in the future?
Tiago: We’re bringing in some new collaborations for the next
EP, so far its looking like we will be working with Los
Tumbados, Filthee Immigrants and T-Weaponz. There’s a few
other things going on but nothing set in stone yet so I will
keep quiet for now.
Rich: Yea Los Tumbados are def peoples we will work with as
well as a few cats outta Spain we have heard.
What artist would you most look forward to doing a track
with in the future?
Rich: I’m looking forward to working with people like Pato,
Sick Jacken and Malverde in the near future. It would be heavy
to link with someone like Carlos Santana on a track too.
Tiago: I would like to explore a fusion of many types of music
at some point in the future, presently thought I’d like to
work with people like J5, Madlib, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Nelly
Furtado even old school legends such as James Brown but right
now just looking forward to our up and coming collabos!
Who are some of your musical influences?
Rich: Personally speaking as far as music goes I’m more
influenced by groups like Led Zeppelin, Otis Reading, Pantera,
Down and Rage Against The Machine, but hip hop production
styles I like are a cross between old school Cypress Hill, Dan
the Automator, Madlib, The Pharcyde, Company Flow and a lot of
Tiago: I started out as a Drum and Bass MC but I have a wide
range of influences, from bob Dylan to Jimmy Smith, Pink
Floyd, Jeff Buckley and of course Cypress Hill.
Whose doing your beats?
Rich: On the record pretty much all of it is handled by me but
there’s always room for ideas from others as everyone has
there own styles to bring to the table but I think its
important to have one producer in any group otherwise you end
up with a watered down sound when you try to keep everyone
happy. When it comes to live shows, though, we work more as a
band and everyone puts in there twenty percent as we try to do
something fresh for the stage each time.
Are you doing tracks in English, or do you plan to?
Rich: At the moment its about eighty percent Spanish, so far
we have done about three tracks with English in, one is called
“Good Times” which we did our first video for and has been
played out on MTV ESP in the US, we also have a track on the
EP called “Chant” which Suzi is on and “La Piedra” where its
Suzi and Big Quarters, who rap in English. I want to keep this
project as a Spanish project with English hooks and maybe a
few collabos in English thrown in now and again. Maybe we will
add a US mc to the picture sometime down the line but for now
its working out nicely.
Tiago: Yeah mostly in Spanish right now but if it works for
the song we will do something in English so we are not really
afraid to mix it up same reason that we are not following
certain trends that are popular at the moment, if we don’t
like it we wont do it simple as that. I think somewhere down
the line we will mix in more languages, maybe not even
English, who knows?
How receptive has London been to a Latin hip hop group so
Rich: We haven’t really promoted ourselves that much in
London, UK, as the plan has always been to concentrate on LA,
Spain, South America, et cetera, having said that the scene is
building nicely and there are a lot more Latin clubs nights
opening up, we headlined a show to about 600 people here in
London at a Latin festival before Christmas, which was heavy,
and are looking to do about four shows here in the summer with
Bobo, so there is definitely a scene building, problem is we
are the scene at the moment (laughs)
Is that the Eric Bobo from Cypress Hill that you just
Rich: Yeah, Bobo joined the group recently, which has been a
real nice addition to the crew, just came about after he heard
a few tracks and we linked up with him on some of the tracks
on the EP and also let him use a couple of joints on his new
Album called “Meeting Of The Minds”. He's still working with
Cypress as well as his solo projects but obviously he's got
time for this too which is an honor, and we are really looking
forward to recording the album over the summer as its gonna
have some crazy percussion driven beats in there!
Are there any other big Latin rap acts in London?
Tiago: We are pretty much the only ones in the UK right now,
there are a few acts here and there but I haven’t heard any of
their music to even be able to discuss them and they lean more
towards the reggaeton and R&B vibe which is something we don’t
really get involved with.
Rich: There’s a lot of things going on with clubs and shows,
but nothing really that stands out yet, hopefully in the
future we might see more Latin hip hop acts but at the moment
everyone is on the reggaeton, salsa tip.
Have you been doing any touring or big shows?
Rich: We have done a couple of big shows of 500 to 700 people
just to test the water, but really at the moment its all about
getting the music down on record and start selling some units.
We are looking to go out to Spain and LA soon, but that’s not
cheap, so we are waiting till we can push this project with
the help of a major label.
What makes Cultura Londres different from other Latin hip
Rich: Well obviously the fact that we are from London
definitely brings a new sound to the table, as the music scene
here is a huge melting pot of sounds and ideas but confined to
a relatively small area, so you get a lot of cross over sounds
and bands appearing. I also think the fact that between us
there are a lot of different influences, granted the main
influence is and always will be Hip Hop but its good to throw
in ideas from metal, acoustic, blues origins to create
something fresh. No doubt at the end of the day we are always
gonna be compared to one group or another since there is so
much music out there now, that’s cool as long as the group has
got its own vibe going on and isn’t biting anyone else’s style
Cultura Londres is pretty familiar with the US hip hop scene,
how much does the UK's hip hop scene differ from the one in
Rich: We I think the UK scene will never ever have the global
impact that the US scene has had purely due to the accent of
the mc’s here and the fact that a lot of people outside of the
UK cant really relate to the s**t that’s being said. The UK
scene has more of an underground vibe compared which is cool
as you find that there is less bulls**t and less money talk
s**t like that which is refreshing too be honest as it gets a
lil' boring hearing about how much money someone has and how
many clubs they go to, that’s not hip hop to me that’s just
ego. Even though that’s been going on since day one in hip hop
there’s something about the way it is today that’s just not
right, too much big business interest really.
Where do you see the group five years from now?
Rich: Well it’s hard to say really since anything can happen
but I would hope that we would be on our 5th or 6th album
selling out good size shows worldwide and putting out honest
and innovative music. I will take this project to the highest
level that I can but as long as I can put food on the table
and provide for my family in the future then that’s all I need
Anything else you'd like to add for readers?
Tiago: Thanks for taking the time to read this far! (laughs)
But seriously though, we love to hear from people that are
feeling the music so anytime people wanna drop us a line
please feel free to do so: email@example.com
Rich: Yea thanks for checking out the group and all the
support from fans, readers, industry so far!
Cultura Londres on Myspace: