Everybody Thinks Badly of Voodoo, Says New York's Los Chicharrons
Thursday, September 20, 2001
Former Danceteria DJ Ramon Santana spoke to Skrufff last week (before the US attacks) about the new Los Chicharrons album and his own intimate knowledge of Voodoo (which permeates the record). A believer rather than a practitioner, Ramon suggested however, that the Caribbean religion is often misrepresented.
'People ssociate it with darkness and Satan but that's just what they tell you as a kid," said Ramon. 'It's a culture for people; it helps you to get a job or to get a girl, or make sure she loves you; that kind of thing.'
Skrufff : The Los Chicharrons sound is full of different musical styles, instruments and rhythms, do you have a precise idea of your music when you're writing-
Los Chicharrons (Ramon): "Morten's the man that pushes the buttons, he's the one that works with the samplers and we just start with ideas whether from music or things that happened to me in the past. We start with one sample then create a little story around that sample. We made this album track by track. I'll usually visit Morten at his studio in Denmark which is exactly the same as the studio we've got here in London. He also runs a club called the Voodoo Club where I'm a resident DJ."
Skrufff: You've been described as an unlikely pairing-
Los Chicharrons (Ramon): "Exactly. He's Danish and comes from a whole different background, he only started listening to funk recently. When we met I was DJing for Tummy Touch (Records) at a night at his club. He heard the music I was playing and was inspired by the Latin sound which he'd never heard before."
Skrufff: You grew up in Brooklyn and were a teenager in 1978 when hip-hop first took off, did you go to many of the block parties of the time-
Los Chicharrons (Ramon): "I've been going to parties since 1971, a party being then somewhere where people played the funk, the Motown and the Latin. I think it was around 1976 that we started going to Astoria (Queens) for parties then in 1977 I remember hearing the MCs rapping for the first time. I then used to go to the Bronx parties at St Marys, and watch the first break-dancers. There was a Dominican guy called Rubber Band who was one of the best but he got killed at a party actually- he got stabbed by another dancer. Central Park used to do events each summer, which was where I first saw Kool Herc playing. My brother was a DJ too and I started playing at barbecues and house parties around 1981."
Skrufff: Are you based in London these days-
Los Chicharrons (Ramon): "We've both got a place in Hackney (East London) but Morten's also got a place in Coenhagen and travels between the two."
Skrufff: Your press release describes Haiti as the birthplace of trance, why-
Los Chicharrons (Ramon): "I was born in the Dominican Republic. My Grand dad lived right on the border of Haiti and my father had a cafe for the soldiers there. I used to visit there and I'd always hear the voodoo drums coming from across the border. I also grew up around a lot of Haitians, living in New York and Brooklyn. Everybody thinks badly of voodoo, they associate it with darkness and Satan but that's just what they tell you as a kid. It's a culture for people there; it helps you to get a job or to get a girl, or make sure she loves you; that kind of thing."
Skrufff: Do you practise voodoo personally then-
Los Chicharrons (Ramon): "I don't practise but it's been practised on me. I used to live in Jackson Heights< Tags