Brooklyn-based global electronica artist Nickodemus honed his skill as resident DJ for Giant Step-produced (NYC) functions from 1995-1999 where he provided sets alongside the likes of Gil Scott Heron, Jazzmattazz, The Pharcyde, Mos Def & Kweli, KRS-One, Thievery Corporation, Groove Collective, Pucho & the Latin Soul Brothers, and Femi Kuti. In 1998, Nickodemus became resident DJ and producer for Turntables On The Hudson, one of the first late night outdoor events in New York, which went on to become an adventurous, free-spirited community & movement known for its eclectic blend of Hip-Hop, Funk, House and Soul played back to back with Latin, African, and Eastern European sounds.
In 2009 he released the Sun People album on Thievery Corporation’s ESL Music, which mixed positive vibes with collaborators hailing from destinations including Guinea, Colombia, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Romania, India, Turkey, United Kingdom and New York City.
His 2007 track “Mi Swing es Tropical” was not only a Worldwide club anthem but was also featured in the iTunes + iPod adverts of the that Summer. Just as notable, he’s weighed in heavy with remixes for Billy Holiday, Nina Simone, Sultan Kahn, Omar Faruk Tekliebek, Balkan Beat Box, The Pimps of Joytime & many more.
Dos Santos Anti-Beat Orquesta
Dos Santos: Anti-Beat Orquesta rocks the sounds of popular pan-Latin American dance genres—from cumbia to salsa. Their gritty, grassroots approach captures the “golden age” of streamlined tight-knit ensembles that shook sweatbox dance floors with raw and fierce energy throughout Latin America in the 1970s and 80s—honest dance music with no frills and no fear, anchored by piercing guitars, garage organs, and spirited percussion.
The group’s five members (Peter Vale, Alex Chavez, Daniel Villarreal-Carrillo, Jaime Garza, Nathan Karagianis) have their own storied careers in a diversity of styles—including jazz, R&B/soul, traditional Mexican folk, punk, cumbia, salsa, and electronica—in addition to a history of critical involvement in arts education and social justice organizing. Their visceral sound draws from this sonic, cultural, and political well of influence, and is guaranteed to make you move.
After making their debut in May of 2013, Dos Santos has been steadily making the rounds at Chicago’s premiere live music venues and festivals. They have made it their goal to provide a much-needed live artistic voice to audiences across the city, expanding the listenership, appeal, and general conversation about Latin@ music throughout Chicagoland and beyond.
FEX co-founder & resident, DJ Newlife was born and bred in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood. As the son of a musician/vocalist and an artist, he has always been described as someone who never fell into the modes of traditional thought. This carries over into his diverse brand of music and the styles of beats that just seem to choose themselves while he’s on the decks. Chicago’s FEX party has hosted global-minded luminaries such as Maga Bo, Daniel Haaksman, Mexicans with Guns, Chief Boima, Rich Medina, Lefto, Bobbito Garcia, Boogat, and Jeremy Sole, so you can be sure to experience an eclectic and technically sound mix anytime Newlife is on the decks.
Beginning her DJ career at the early age of 18, it didn’t take Tamara, aka Bella Loki long to establish a strong name in the West Coast music scene. Coming from a 15-year dance career, and growing up in the B-Boy scene, Bella Loki discovered an undeniable passion for music. Her style is deeply rooted in underground Hip Hop, Jazz, Neo-Soul, Funk, House and world rhythms such as Afro-Cuban and Bossa nova. In 2008, Bella Loki became a member of the Dojo Soundz family, a collective of DJs, artists, and urban clothing companies dedicated to creative expression. For the past eight years, Bella Loki has spun regularly in the company of well-respected DJs such as DJ Question, Charlie Rock, Cros One, Freddie Joachim, Kidragon, MZA, and more.
Bella Loki’s unique style of beautifully blended old and new, authentic and unexpected music was inspired by artists such as Erykah Badu, Outkast, Bonobo, Nas, Dwele, Earth Wind and Fire, Buena Vista Social Club, and many others. Bella Loki has also made appearances at both Los Angeles’ and Chicago’s Beat Swap Meet, Vibe & Stuff Radio, Soul Circle Radio, Qualcomm’s Snap Dragon unveiling in New York, and locally at Slippery Slope, Rodan, Emporium, and Virgin Hotel in Chicago.
Irreverent of genre but observant of vibe, Ryan Searchl1te constructs bassheavy tunes and mixes loaded with his own field recordings, samplings from a nerdy collection of vinyl, analog grit cranked out of piles of old gear, and collaborations with the underground’s toughest lyricists and musicians. As the founder of Party Time Society Radio, Searchl1te has been doing noncommercial radio with WNUR 89.3 FM in Chicago for over a decade. Searchl1te also teaches reading, writing and music production to incarcerated youth in Chicago.
Born and raised in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood David Chavez (DJ Sound Culture) has always had a great affinity for world cultures and deep music. His passion for both has to a large extent laid the path in front of him for most of his life. In the DJ booth Sound Culture is a cultural chemist of sorts, exploring the world’s sounds and finding the threads that tie us all together globally. From Bhangra to Balkan Beat, African Soukous to Latin House, he knows how to navigate your auditory senses. His live mixes are both dynamic and seamlessly cohesive and whether you’re a world music enthusiast or dance floor regular, he keeps things interesting.
A member of Sonic Diaspora and People’s DJ Collective, Afroqbano is originally from Cuba and now living in Chicago. In Habana, he worked as a regular DJ for a number of underground house and Hip Hop clubs and produced and toured with some of the most well-known artists and ensembles in Cuba. Since moving to the United States, Afroqbano has continually expanded on his style & influence, developed his acumen as a producer/remixer, and shared stages with luminaries like Mos Def, Pete Rock, Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, Rich Medina, and La Santa Cecilia. While the Afro-Cuban and Latin rhythms of his culture are central to his sound, he embraces and merges a wide range of global & soulful music.
Live Visuals/DJ Set
CaliXta VJs and DJs as part of CumbiaSazo as well as dále shine. Originally from Chicago, caliXta co-founded dále shine to explore & spin a wide variety of digital music, integrate visuals into music, and work to create a scene for ‘cyber ritmos’ in various local scenes. Her philosophy is to create and bridge spaces through an audio-visual experience from around the world that people will love. dále shine is a party series dedicated to showcasing the music of latinx america, integrating that music into the Chicago soundscape, and providing a safe space for diversity of expression.
Itzi Nallah is CumbiaSazo’s resident DJ and faithful organizer. Having also worked with FEX, Sonic Diaspora and Peoples DJs Collective, his DJ projects focus on global roots & bass music and liberation-minded dance floors. Current residencies include Double Door and Harbee in Pilsen (for Alegria) and show highlights include sharing stages with acts ranging from Ozomatli, Rich Medina and A Tribe Called Red to Pete Rock, Javier Estrada and Haitus Kaiyote.
Photos: Newlife by Lucio Villa, Bella Loki by Carolina Sánchez, Itzi Nallah & Sound Culture by William Camargo