June 03 2018

Riobamba, Neither Here nor There

New York-Le Bain
We chat with Riobamba, one-half of the NYC party Bien Buena (with Uproot Andy), before they return to Le Bain on Thursday, June 21st.
LE BAIN: Track ID please? What is the very last record that made you say, "Bien Buena"?
RIOBAMBA: The name "Bien Buena" is a reference to El General and the early days of reggae en español, but more recently I've had "Te Boté Remix" with Casper, Nio García, Darell, Nicky Jam, Bad Bunny, and Ozuna on infinite loop.

You’ve once said you’re a “third culture” person (being an Ecuadorian-Lithuanian New Yorker), which give you some kind of 3D approach to culture, music, etc. Is that correct? 
I definitely identify with being third culture, or even to quantify things as such probably doesn't do it justice. I've been saying instead I'm "ni de aquí, ni de allá," meaning I'm from neither here nor there. 
Riobamba by Tania Apolinar

Riobamba by Tania Apolinar


How does that translate in your approach to nightlife?
My DJ sets and approach to nightlife are a reflection of that. It's a direct translation of my own experiences and cultural intersections; being first generation Ecuadorian on my mother's side and having Lithuanian and Jewish roots on my father's side, growing up in western Massachusetts, and settling into life here in NYC. I started DJing to create spaces and play out soundtracks that are a reflection of the spectrum of Latinx and immigrant experiences. 

Bien Buena has been a party in Brooklyn and a monthly radio show on Red Bull Radio. Its motto is “préndelo pero apréndelo.” Can you explain?
Our aspiration for the radio show is for each month of the program to be a deep dive into an artist/scene/community/genre, and to invite guests that will illustrate the storytelling behind the music. I think our recent show with IFÉ vocalist Otura Mun exemplified that. In his interview he gave context for the lineages and rituals that are behind the rhythms of IFÉ's recordings, and also background about his own trajectory for becoming a babalawo in the Ifá/Yoruba religion, which is intertwined with the group's vision. I think it's really important to not only amplify the sounds of Latinx culture, but to also challenge stereotypes and celebrate the richness and complexity of the spectrum of identities and experiences.
Riobamba's Discwoman Mix

Discwoman wrote that your lives sets “reflect back nightlife’s power as a site of joy and resistance." Joy and resistance, that’s a great balance to describe nightlife. 
I feel really lucky to have recently played festivals like Baltimore's Roots & Raíces Festival, or Tucson's El Tambó Festival, which are creating intentional spaces to discuss the intersection of music and immigrant rights in collaboration with local organizers. These are joyous moments while also tackling and discussing challenges affecting our communities, and I think the conversations that happen in these spaces are informal moments for sharing best practices for organizing and community-building. 

On Thursday, June 21st, Le Bain presents Bien Buena
feat. Riobamba and Uproot Andy
The Standard, High Line | 10pm