“We are together here making music because we share our ancestry,” says Aniel. He’s referring to African slaves, who, when brought to the Americas, created similar settings in cities like New Orleans, Havana, and Salvador.
There are aspects of the Cuban culture that can also be seen in Brazil: ingredients like banana and okra; religions like Umbanda and Santeria; and, of course, the music. The cuíca, for example, is an instrument used in Brazilian samba that has a Cuban counterpart known as kinfuiti.
In front of a computer, Flavia uses a digital controller to record the arrangements that Aniel will play. The idea is to create sounds that, when combined, will result in a song. This is how she has been doing her work, ever since the daughter of a Brazilian man came to Brazil to research traditional rhythms and combine them with electronic beats.
Press play and listen attentively. Flavia and Aniel start with a base of rattles and congas (African-Cuban drums). This is the percussion that will set the cadence for the song. Soon, Aniel adds his acoustic double bass, increasing the swing of the ensemble. Then, Flavia plays the flute and mixes synth sounds. In the end, she adds nature sounds.
The result is an ethereal, somewhat romantic, and dancing sound. A samba song with a foot in the Caribbean. A little inebriating, like rum; a little sweet, like soda. Uniting north and south in Sound America, going from the Art Deco neon lights in Miami to a hot night in Havana or a morning contemplating the ocean in Bahia.
Who is DJ Flavia
DJ and music producer who lived in the Bronx, a New York district famous for being the birthplace of the hip hop movement. She learned to DJ at the Scratch DJ Academy, founded by Jam-Master Jay, one of the legends of this genre. These days, her work combines traditional Brazilian rhythms with electronic music.
Tip on New York City
“I’ve always liked the Guitar Center, a musical instruments store where you can spend hours testing everything. For records, the Turntable Lab is a great place to find ‘B-side’ vinyls.”
Tip on São Paulo
“Boteco Pratododia marked my history in Brazil. There, the DJs only play vinyl. It was one of the first places I frequented, where I met other Brazilian DJs.”
Who is Aniel Someillan
Multi-instrumentalist who specializes in acoustic double bass and studied at the renowned Conservatorio Amadeo Roldán, in downtown Havana. His 2018 album Quilombo is the fruit of an extensive research on the similarities between African-Cuban and African-Brazilian sounds.
Tip on Havana
“Callejón de Hamel is the grooviest, most musical place in the world! An alley in the city center that vibrates with drums, rumba, dancing… It’s a hotspot where I always take my foreign friends.”
Tip on São Paulo
“In the São Paulo capital, I started playing at Jazz nos Fundos. Since then, I have performed there many times, launched projects there. The door is always open for me.”