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Discovering the Beat of Santiago: Dive Deep with Cuerpo Docente on their Electric New EP ‘Esferas.

Kono Vidovic August 15, 2023 105 5 5

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Dive into the pulsating heart of Chile’s music scene with Cuerpo Docente, the freshest live improvisation trio to emerge from Santiago’s vibrant rhythms. Join us as we groove through their roots, decode Santiago’s sonic landscape, and get the first scoop on their electrifying new EP ‘Esferas’, now resonating from the decks of San Francisco’s Dream Chimney. 🔊🎶

Santiago has always struck me as an incredible city. Tell us a little about the landscape, and what it’s like to be able to see the Andes mountains from pretty much anywhere in the city.

Santiago is a city built between mountain ranges, so the air quality is awful. 

For us, having the Andes right in our face all the time is a foundational emotional experience. They protect and guide us. We kinda get uneasy and lost in flat cities.

How is the political climate in Chile currently? What is the general status quo? How is the mood?

We got excited and hopeful for a split second during the 2019 uprising and subsequent (failed) constitutional assembly and now there’s an ultra-right-wing backlash in the horizon. The vibes are very mid, we all feel a little hopeless.

How is the music scene in Santiago. Talk us through what’s happening on the local scene?

There’s a lot of good DJs and producers/bands. Santiago’s general vibe is dark and emo — people here generally like industrial sounds, noisy techno, an especially explicit flavor of reggaeton and emotional indie bands.

One distinctive thing about the Santiago scene is the lack of infrastructure in terms of clubs, and venues in general. That forces most shows/parties to be a little or very illegal and nomadic.

Currently there are big techno parties/raves, a smaller house music scene, some “Club Latino” parties. Bands took a hit with the years as it is not very profitable or cool to play instruments, and because a lot of venues have gone under in the past 7 years or so. The pandemic was a big blow as well.

Is the experimental dance scene big, and who are some of the key players?

Felipe and Lorena think it’s not especially big, having lived here all their lives, but Vicente strongly disagrees, having lived as a musician in New York for 11 years (where it sucks).

Baila Como Quieras is a very cool social/dance project. In terms of parties there’s Club Quimera in Valparaíso, Equinoccio, Aglomeracion, Martirio, Club Algoritmo, Bim Bam Bum, Placido Domingo, Entusiasmo and Sello Medio Oriente. Of course, there’s a lot of overlap between these projects and our friendships. 

We guess maybe it’s not so small, but maybe around 1000 people go to these events.

Can you tell us who the members of Cuerpo Docente and what parts/ instruments you each play in the band?

Felipe plays bass and sings, Lorena plays keyboards, and Vicente plays drums. We also had Simón Cáceres play percussion on the record as a guest artist.

Tell us a little about each of your backgrounds prior to Cuerpo Docente.

Felipe started out playing improvised music and studying composition at university, and Lorena studied classical & jazz piano. Both of them gradually got into making/playing dance music, and now are DJs and producers. They had another band together called Los Barbara Blade and Vicente was a fan. Vicente is a jazz drummer and studied composition in New York. He mostly makes unusual music with unusual instruments, and this is his most normal project.

How long have you been together as a group and what inspired the band to form?

We first started playing in 2018 in one of Vicente’s trips to Santiago, where we played a fully improvised set at a party we organized. We all like improvisation and house/disco/dub/jazz music so we naturally came together to play this kind of thing. 

Are you all jazz musicians at heart?

We all have different relationships with jazz music and have all played it at one point or another. Vicente is the most active in the jazz scene and even won a prize for it. For Lorena it is a way of thinking and learning music which can be translated to other styles. 

Improvisation is key to your sound. Was improv part of your beginning or did this develop over time?

From the very beginning.

What does your live set up consist of? 

We just play trio, drums keys bass/vox.

How do you prepare yourselves for a live performance. 

Making sure we know the songs. Improvising a lot

What other live improv artists do you admire on the global scene?

Evan Parker, Roscoe Mitchell, AtomTM, Suzanne Ciani, Non-Local Research

Who are your idols that inspire the music that you are making now?

Herbie Hancock, Ornette Coleman, Azymuth, Theo Parrish, Dub Syndicate, King Tubby, Don Cherry

When did you first all step into a studio to commit your music to release?

This is our first release, and we recorded it in 2021.

Tell us about your relationship with Dream Chimney and how it first formed?

Lorena published an EP with Not Not Fun records and she showed Esferas to Britt, the owner of the label, who recommended she reach out to Dream Chimney. We liked their music and thought it was a good match.

Can you give us a brief description of the new EP?

The EP has 3 compositions we wrote together, drawing from prior recorded improvisations, plus two studio improvisations which we later edited and dubbed. We came into it trying to do an electro-acoustic version of house music through repetition of jazzy loops and came out with Esferas.

This music is for lovers of.

Live dance music, Fender Rhodes, drums, funk.

What are your next ambitions as a trio?

We’re currently focused on the release of Esferas, and then we will worry about the future.

Do you have some gig dates you want to drop here?

We have a record release show in Santiago on August 25th.

Fading Out: Closing Thoughts on this Music Interview.

A huge thank you to Cuerpo Docente for taking the time to share their insights and inspirations. Their magnetic mix of house, jazz, and funk is reshaping Santiago’s soundscape. Dive into their rhythmic world and don’t forget to grab your copy of their latest EP, ‘Esferas’, available now on Dream Chimney. Let the vibes of Santiago resonate in your soul!

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Kono Vidovic at Dirty Disco

Kono Vidovic

DJ | MUSIC CURATOR & SELECTOR | PODCAST MAKER | BLOGGER Professional online interpreneur. Coffee practitioner. Electronic music culture maven. Total music guru. Infuriatingly humble problem solver. Food & sports fanatic.

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