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Dream 102.9 FM Featured Artist

Every month Dream FM takes a closer look at some of the artists or bands in our playlist.

This week’s featured artist is the internationally renowned Salsa group Fruko y Sus Tesos 

image source: Radio Nationale of Colombia

Salsa lovers worldwide are likely very familiar with the Colombia musical group Fruko y Sus Tesos. Fruko and the band have been around in some form or another since 1969. If you are counting, that’s more than 50 years of music and 42 studio albums. 

Founded and led by Julio Ernesto Estrada (or Fruko), the musical extravaganza of Fruko y Sus Tesos has become a staple for salsa dancers all around the world. Their international tours, of which there are more than a dozen, are religiously attended by their global fan base of salsa aficionados. 

Estrada’s original inspiration for creating a salsa group was following a trip to New York City in 1968 with Lisandro Meza’s popular group, Los Corraleros de Majagual. Estrada’s interpretation of big city lights and the exploding salsa scene of the late 1960s has inspired more than half a century of music.

But Fruko is only one aspect of a many-member group. The name Fruko y Sus Tesos translates into “Fruko and his treasures.” But who are these many treasures? 

Over the years, the lineup of musical additions has included Edulfamid Molina Díaz, Gustavo Garcia, Joe Arroyo, Joseito Martinez, Julio Ernesto Estrada, Piper “Pimienta” Diaz, Rafael Benítez, Rodolfo Aicardi, and Wilson Saoko (among a few others). Over the decades, many of the band members have gone on to lead internationally successful musical careers of their own. 

No salsa collection is complete without at least one (if not twenty) of Fruko’s many albums. One of their most popular hits, even outside of salsa, is “El Preso.” Fruko has called “El Preso,” “un himno mundial de la salsa.” Translated to “a world anthem of salsa music.” 

In 2018, Billboard named “El Preso” one of the most influential salsa songs of all time. As the critic noted, this “1975 anthem is the most liberating Salsa song about prison ever recorded.”

To this day, Fruko y Sus Tesos continues its salsa-legacy in Colombia and beyond.

Recently Featured Artists

Watcha Clan

Photo Credit: Watcha Clan

Watcha Clan hails from Marseilles, France borrowing acoustic inspiration from electronic, reggae Balkan brass and Sephardic folk. This four-piece group comes from a diverse cultural, ethnic, and religious background, musically circling the globe several times over. 

Sista K leads the group with vocals and dancing. Suprem Clem provides electronic supports from the board, with sampling, programming, keyboards, and the accordion. On the gumbir and guitar is Nassim, with Matt Lebasse on double bass and guitar.

The attraction tempered into every Watcha Clan album is the dynamic yo-yo between several genres, all without missing a beat. That means one album contains a world of sound, connected through show-stopping lyricism from Sista K and a connective, danceable beat. 

Part of the Watcha Clan’s phenomenon is their ability to melt together a world of language. Expect to hear Arabic, Hebrew, Spanish, Yiddish, Tamashek, French, and English — often combined within a single song.

Since Watcha Clan’s inception in 1999, they have released seven studio albums, including Le Bastion, Diaspora Hi-Fi, and their latest in 2011: Radio Babel. 

Photo Credit: Shazam

Radio Babel is the most eccentric blending of sound yet. As one reviewer put, Radio Babel pulls in influences “From the Eastern European melodies that [Sista K’s] mother sang to her when she was little; to the chaabi, the Algerian blues that Nassim, the “khouya” (brother) from Oran, introduced them to; to the hip-hop kick that appeals to Clem, the Clan’s music man and sampler extraordinaire.”

Following the Radio Babel Tour in 2013, the band has been on an indefinite hiatus to pursue individual projects. In 2016, Sista K released her debut solo album under the name Siska. It was produced, of course, by her long time bandmate Suprem Clem.

Image: KCRW

Ondatropica

Ondatropica is a hard-to-describe supergroup with an ever-evolving musical line up of talent. Founded by two remarkable individuals, Will Holland (aka Quantic) and Mario Galeano, this powerhouse of sound encompasses hip hop, punk, electronica, jazz, salsa, afrobeat, cumbia, and just about everything in between. “Onda” means soundwave. Ondatropica is, therefore, a Colombian jam session that smoothly incorporates influences from all around the world.

The first collaboration led by Holland and Galeano under the name Ondatropica came about in 2012 and was recorded at Discos Fuentes studios in Medellin. The duo initially set out to “explore and expand the tropical sound of Colombia in its rawest form, and to marry it with the cool sound of London.” By the release of this first studio album, the group had accomplished so much more.

Their 2012 self-titled album is the collaboration of more than 40 world-renowned artists pulled from all corners of the planet. Notable names include Nidia Gongora (vocal), Wilson Viveros (percussion), Michi Sarmiento (saxophone), Eblis Alvarez (guitar), Ana Tijoux (vocals), Jorge Gaviria (trumpet), and Alfredito Linares (piano). 

Every track is a surprising musical journey that beautifully blends world-beats without missing a single one. Holland and Galeano produced an album encompassing just about every sound, culture, and voice — that managed to come out deliciously cohesive. 

The following year, a ten-piece ensemble from some of the original 40 musical contributors toured across the Americas and Europe. The years that followed included several EPs, but eventually, Holland, Galeano, and the rest of the artists broke to work on their individual projects. 

In 2015 Holland and Galeano reunited in Colombia for another round, working from Bogota and the Colombian island of Providencia. In 2015 Ondatropica released another fantastically eclectic album, this time focused intentionally on Afro Caribbean sounds and culture. 

While Ondatropica came across like a beautiful, if accidental musical collaboration, Baile Bucanero sounds much more purposeful and thoughtful. In one glowing review, Culture Trip explained, “Baile Bucanero is perhaps an even more cohesive record than their first, and further confirms the incredible depth of musical talent and innovation present in Colombia.”

In 2020, Ondatropica released an EP entitled Noche de Amor featuring Juancho Vargas on piano. Beyond this small offering, is there more Ondatropica in the future? Supergroups are challenging enough, but the global pandemic has made international supergroups even more difficult to pull off. Until international travel returns, and future Ondatropica plans are likely on hold.

Dub FX

Dub FX photo: Whistle Louder

Using only a looper, effects pedals, and the sound of his voice, Benjamin Stanford, aka Dub FX, has racked up nearly 65 million views and over 300,000 subscribers on Youtube. A street performer turned internationally renowned performer Dub FX has become a staple headliner at global music festivals. 

The magic that is DUB FX comes almost entirely from his live performances. With little more than a microphone and a few basic effects, he spins reggae, drum and bass, and hip hop into a spectacular crowd-moving set. If anyone can get a crowd amped up, it’s Dub FX.

His solo mission under Dub FX wasn’t the first foray into music for Stanford. In the early 2000’s he started performing with Twitch (later Never or Now), an alternative rock and rapcore band based in his home Melbourne, Australia. Shortly after their first album, he set off for Italy and a solo career based on street performances. But street performance fails to accurately capture the nature of his music. Even in the early days of his performances, they were more reminiscent of electronic music-festivals and clubs than cobblestones and sidewalks. 

Since 2004, and the launch of his solo journey, he has released seven albums — all of which were released independently. From the start, Dub FX is a one man show, from the music itself to the production to the albums to the marketing. Although Dub FX is famous for his collaborations with artists from around the world, he maintains complete control of his music from start to finish. 

The first Dub FX studio album came out in 2009, called Everythinks a Ripple. Melting his talents as a beatboxer with reggae, dub, and drum and bass influences, this was his first production beyond the street. 

As a part of this musical journey, Stanford founded Convoyunltd, a music label, but also an independent artist collective. This label releases collaborative pieces between DubFX and others, as well as albums for select artists produced by Dub FX. He is also a part of several other musical acts, including Kila Mega Giga Tera. 

Dub FX spent the greater part of the last decade traveling the world, performing on the streets, and headlining festivals. He now lives in Australia with his wife and two children.



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