Some people reckon emoji-speak is the world's first universal language, but music has been around for a lot longer than the yellow winky face. It has the power to cross borders, to bring people together through adversity, and is the ultimate connecting force for us as humans. It’s this concept that Ballantine’s are exploring through their extended project with Boiler Room, Hybrid Sounds.
Over the next six months, they’re embarking on a tri-continent tour, pairing some of the world’s top live electronic acts with their more traditional vocalists and musicians to create a unique, four-track EP. Kicking off in Moscow with London brothers Overmono (aka Truss and Tessela), the project then leaps over to Lebanon with Dutch lo-fi producer Dollkraut, São Paulo with techno vanguard rRoxymore, and finally Valencia with Bulgarian hardware wizard DJ KiNK.
Uprooting the artists from their typical bases and introducing them to local musicians to collaborate with is a classic recipe for innovation. “Music's totally borderless now,” says Tom Elton, Head of Music at Ballantine's. “And we have this kind of borderless approach — let's just find the best scenes, the most credible and authentic artists and give them a stage to show everyone what they're about. That's what people want to see, I think.”
It’s the first time the project has hit Lebanon, although the country has been on their radar for some time. “Everyone was pointing at Lebanon as this amazing thriving music community with these incredible artists coming out of it,” Tom explains. “It's kind of what we did three or four years ago with South Africa, when Afro House was becoming a lot more mainstream. I remember three or four years ago we worked with Black Coffee and Black Motion, who've gone on to do completely incredible things.”
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rRoxymore is one of the pioneering electronic artists participating in the project — originally from Montpellier in France yet now Berlin-based, the genre-spanning producer knows about displacement and localised club scenes. “It’s interesting to collaborate with other people, it could be on the other side of the planet, but it could bring you somewhere completely different,” she says. “It’s interesting to see how other people work. It will give me inspiration, for sure.”
As part of the tour, rRoxymore will be heading to São Paulo in Brazil, to experience the party spirit and colourful music scene there, which will in turn allow her to push the boundaries of her organic-sounding, genre-blurring sound which can’t be reduced to one category, making her the perfect choice for a project which challenges our perceptions of the idea of genre itself. “Boundaries are not important anyway,” she nods.
“I guess what I like to do is always challenge myself a bit," she continues. "I did a residency in Pakistan a couple of years ago, for two weeks, where I worked with musicians from Germany and Pakistan. Meeting someone from another genre or from a completely different world music-wise would be really interesting.”
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True Music: Hybrid Sounds kicks off in Moscow on February 15th with performances from Overmono (profiled in the above video), Derrick May, Or:la, PTU and Pavel Dodonov.
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Discover more about the Ballantine’s x Boiler Room True Music via their website, and check out the lineup for the Moscow edition on February 15th.