Latin music producer Sinego marries the future with the past

The Colombian DJ, who's headlining Snake River Brew Pub's Cinco de Mayo event, discusses the importance of shifting the perspective on Latin music.
(Courtesy of artist)

by | May 5, 2023 | Music Interviews

Colombian music producer Juan David Rodriguez, aka Sinego, makes captivating tracks that combine mainstream Latin music with underground electronic beats.

His productions feature a mix of driving house music with traditional boleros, a genre that originated in Cuba that gained widespread popularity around Latin America throughout the 20th century.

His live sets have recently been captivating audiences at premier festivals like EDC and he has collaborated with big-name artists like Sofi Tukker, Bomba Estéreo and Elsa Y Elmar.

In advance of his headlining set at Snake River Brew Pub on Friday, May 5 — with support from KHOL’s own DJ Echo and Marco Flexx — Sinego joined us recently, over the phone.

The following interview transcript has been edited for clarity and brevity. This conversation was recorded on Thursday, May 4.

JACK CATLIN/KHOL: Your music features a lot of layers, textures, vocals and complex rhythms. What is your creative process from inception to putting it out into the world?

SINEGO: It has changed a lot throughout the years. Before it was very sample-based. For example, some Salsa from the sixties or how can we take some Bolero even from like the forties? But I think now it’s picking one emotion and being very conscious about how to express that with all these different instruments. I try not to sample anymore. I just try to get an emotion and recreate that sample on my own. So for example, the album that I’m doing right now takes different elements from different countries of Latin America, and instead of me sampling them, I just see the emotion that’s being portrayed in that genre or that country and try to recreate it from scratch so I can work with more musicians. And it’s not a lonely process. It’s more like working with other musicians to make that happen.

KHOL: From what I’ve read, you seem to have a mission to revalidate Latin American culture on the dance floor. You’ve said, you get inspired by people who are doing something interesting socially and that you love those acts that empower Latin artists to go further. Can you expand on that for us?

SINEGO: I think all the regions in the world have their stereotypes and Latin America definitely has some stereotypes right now, that have been pushed by Reggaeton specifically. And that way of looking at Pop music that’s very like the nightclub and bottle service and expensive cars. And that stereotype doesn’t really speak to me. And I don’t really think that it actually expresses what Latin America is made of. That’s why I want to indicate that in regions like Europe or the US, what’s really Latin America? It’s not necessarily Bad Bunny, it’s not necessarily Ozuna or Shakira. We have other stuff happening.

KHOL: So I’d love for you to touch on the importance of collaboration in your work. You’ve worked with many different artists, whether it’s writing a song from scratch with a musical partner or reinterpreting an existing track on a Sinego remix. What draws you into these different kinds of creative projects and what do you hope the listener gets out of them?

SINEGO: I think it’s a sense of travel and a sense of kind of an Anthony Bourdain feeling. Some people may not be familiar. Anthony Bourdain was a chef from New York who had a travel program. And I want them to have that feeling, you know, like going into a certain location, kind of exploring the culture from a very honest point of view. It’s not overproduced and it’s the actual thing there. Right? You’re kind of seeing things like a local. So I think that’s what I want to build with my music, and that’s where collaborations come from. Normally it’s not finding who can bring a bigger audience to me it’s more like what makes sense to this genre and what makes it sound authentic.

Listen above for KHOL’s full conversation with Sinego.

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About Jack Catlin

Jack is KHOL's music director. He says all music is in some way connected no matter the style and his mission is to provide listeners with a unique and memorable experience each time they tune in to KHOL or see him DJ live.

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