June 03 2018

Crossing Borders with Uproot Andy

New York-Le Bain
We chat with Uproot Andy, one-half of the NYC party Bien Buena (with Riobamba), 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"?
UPROOT ANDY: It happens a lot, but the last was "Eh Mami" by Tali Goya, because its a New York Dominican artist doing a Brazilian baile funk-style track. I love it. It crosses cultural and language borders in a way that feels natural and just makes you wanna shake your ass.

You grew up in Toronto and New York. How did it influence your approach to music and culture?
Toronto and New York are immigrant cities full of people who have brought their culture with them from other parts of the world. My mother is Jewish from New York and my father Irish-Canadian, but I grew up mostly without access to those cultures, and so for me, music culture was something that I accessed through my friends and those around me. As a result, the music I’ve been exposed to is incredibly diverse and it became the way I connected to people. In reality there is so much common ground underlying global music, a result of the migration of peoples over so many years, but it is in different languages and is sold to different markets. 

The Standard
"At their best, parties are real opportunities for community building."
You once said to not just depend on the algorithms when looking for music.
Nowadays, algorithms will put you in a box and determine what music is for you, and that's what will show up in your feed. My approach is to seek out the connections between different music cultures, across language and other boundaries, to highlight the common thread of (primarily African diaspora) musical influences that connects New York to the Caribbean and Latin America to Africa and Europe and beyond. And to bring us all together on the dance floor. 

Bien Buena has been a party in Brooklyn and a monthly radio show on Red Bull Radio, which “préndelo pero apréndelo.” Can you explain?
The idea is that with the radio show we’re exploring music that can light up a dance floor (préndelo) but we’re doing so while looking at the context and the roots of the music, so in tuning in you’ll hopefully also be learning something (apréndelo). 

An example?
We recently had the opportunity to do our radio show live in front of an audience with a panel of guests to dive into the history and story of reggaeton. We had one of the pioneers of the genre, DJ Nelson, as well as scholars and journalists to help us tell this story. While reggaeton is still one of our favorites musics to wine up to in the club it is also seeing a moment of pop crossover bringing it to a whole new audience. We think it's important to shine a light on its Afro-Caribbean roots and the people who created it under often difficult circumstances, when the mainstream reaction to it was still hostile. 


Uproot Andy's Boiler Room Mix

We talked about "joy and resistance" in nightlife with Riobamba. How does that inspire you?
I think the club has so often been a place that challenges mainstream gender and cultural and other stereotypes. At their best, parties are real opportunities for community building that resist social media suggested segregation, where people are brought together who in another context would never meet, where you can at once feel something familiar and also be opened up to something new. 

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