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Dengue Dengue Dengue! How Colombian cumbia brought a DJ duo from Lima to Berlin

The Peruvian DJ duo Dengue Dengue Dengue! is not to be confused with the disease dengue fever. Through their cumbia influenced productions and DJ sets, these two button wizards have built a career for themselves over the past 7 years. We sat down with the artists at AND& Festival to talk about the road they’ve traveled and how music inspires them today. Maybe their music library can inspire you too? Read all about it here.

text by: Levi Adriaenssens

Dengue Dengue Dengue at And& Festival

We take off by going back to the past. In a previous interview you mentioned something about the Peruvian music scene:

“Making music is the same everywhere in the world but when it comes to distributing it becomes a difficult task in Lima.”

How important is a musician's geographical position to get somewhere in the music business nowadays?

We think it matters a lot! We have many talented friends in Lima and they would play much more venues if they were to live in Europe. In Lima, there is not much access to travel around. It has already improved quite a lot thanks to the internet but there is still room for improvement.

Is it correct that you two are living in Berlin now?

Yes we are, because we're touring so much in Europe it made more sense to live here. In Latin America it is more difficult to tour because we often have to travel long distances and tickets are very expensive. We can only play in the capital cities. In Europe we can take a one-hour train and play in another city a few hours later.

When it comes to your music itself, were you pioneers within electronic cumbia?

Not really, it has been around for a long time. When we got into it, the music style started to peak and became famous worldwide. We were very fortunate to be involved in this peak.

Dengue Dengue Dengue - Simiolo

Do you still find the energy and creativity to push your sound during all the touring?

We need to rest at some point during the year. Last time we took a three-month break. If we don't take some rest, it gets very difficult. We try to find time during the week to make music as well.

Felipe: When we first started touring we were like gypsies, we took all our material with us from one place to another. Now that we're living in Berlin we can play at night and take the plane back to Berlin the day after. That way we can maintain a normal life balance, which makes it easier to work on our music.

Will this vibrant sound or so-called ‘hybrid global club music’ blow up even more?

Yes, absolutely! It is happening right now in Europe, especially those combinations of Western and Global oriented music.

At some point, it will probably even out with other genres. Currently, American and British music dominate the world but we feel that in a few years it will even out with other genres such as music from Latin-America. We hope that will happen at least.

You take the culture by heart in whatever you do with your performances. Has it proven to be a good choice?

We try to do what feels natural to us. When we make cumbia music we use rhythms that feel close to us personally. We think that it's a part of who we are because the music is so attached to our culture. Now that we're living in Europe, we absorb all sorts of music. There are many cultures living together in major cities, which can work very inspiring.

Rafael: We work with lots of local musicians as well. They don't make much regular cumbia anymore but when we work together with local artists, we can create something new. It's nice to know that in some way the tradition will live on by working together.

Justo Betancourt - Pa' Bravo Yo (Dengue Dengue Dengue remix)

I happen to know that 'dengue' is slang for 'let's go partying'. But it also happens to be a disease. Do you often get questions from a fucker like me such as “Why did you name yourselves after a disease"?

Rafael: All the time! (laughs)

Sometimes we even get people messaging us saying: "Hey, I had dengue fever it’s not funny you know, it’s a dreadful disease". The name comes from the slang word and a record we had laying around at home called ‘Dengue Dengue Dengue Dengue’ By Enrique Lynch.

The album cover: the only thing you'll find online about the record

Why three times?

The record was four times but we thought four was too much and two was too little so we chose three (laughs).

I’d like to end with some musical tips. You got inspired by psychedelic cumbia. If there was one record you would recommend to our readers to broaden their minds, what would it be?

That's a very difficult question! We’ve got loads of records. We can give you a crew for each country and name some stuff but that’s quite a lot. Perhaps Los Wemblers De Iquitos?

Los Wembler's De Iquitos - La Danza Del Petrolero (album 1975)

Iquitos is the name of the main city in the Amazons in Lima. The band makes cumbia music with an electric guitar and it’s very nice music. We also made a track with them, but it was only released on vinyl.

Rafael: I’m still thinking about other stuff. Jlin is amazing as well. I love the music. She played AND& Festival as well.

Felipe: Maybe Suso?

Me: You mean Susobrino?

Felipe: No just Suso but Susobrino is pretty cool as well, we know him!

To conclude, we can say that Dengue Dengue Dengue! has a love for cumbia music and our very own Belgian Champion Sound winner Susobrino as well. Music travels to every corner of the world, so we'd say: go out and explore!

For more info on Dengue Dengue Dengue! and AND& Festival check the selected links.

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