ZZK IS A Buenos Aires-based record label, a club night (also known as Zizek Club), and a collective of musicians who are pushing an original interpretation of South American cumbia music out to the rest of the world. With any new twist on a sound comes a new subgenre title, and ZZK has dubbed it "digital folklorica." Their cumbia hybrid incorporates beats from the gamut of modern electronic genres, giving a fresh and varied approach to the age-old rhythm.
According to ZZK resident DJ and record label owner Grant C. Dull (AKA El G), traditional cumbia is so commonplace it can be heard at nearly every public square and wedding across Latin America.
"Cumbia was born out of indigenous African slaves and European settlers at the turn of the 20th century in Colombia. It's a really rich Afro Caribbean folklore rhythm that mutated from the Colombian coast all the way up to Mexico and all the way down to Argentina, where it took on different forms," explains Dull. "ZZK would be, like, the 21st century, experimental, digital electronic version of that."
The artists associated with ZZK all have a different take on the sound. El Remolon plays club hits and mash-ups infused with dubstep and reggaeton. Tremor is a live band with traditional charango guitar and bombo legüero drums, but the synthesizers, loops, and unusual samples on their upcoming remix album Para Armar bring to mind IDM influences like Jimmy Edgar and cLOUDDEAD. As manager of the record label, Dull ties it all together in his DJ sets by showcasing anything and everything to do with ZZK Records. The mixed-bag approach has won over crowds across North America and Europe on recent tours, and earned an early endorsement from Diplo.
Dull attributes the diversity of the ZZK sound to the club night, which he describes as a dance laboratory. "I think one of the reasons Zizek Club has worked so well is because we have a really open-minded crowd. And we invite people to come play that are pushing the envelope and doing new things. It's not all-night techno or dubstep or cumbia, it's just everything thrown onto the dance floor," he says. "Most of the time it's great because the crowd is just really open to hearing something totally new."