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Jose Luis (Source: Jose Luis)
Latin music is exploding worldwide, and one of the DJs and promoters leading the charge in the UK is Jose Luis.
Born and bred in Venezuela, Luis has lived in London for half of his life. For the past 11 years, he has been DJing and promoting at his monthly La Bomba event at the O2 Academy Islington, which he calls “the original reggaeton party in the UK.” Luis has promoted shows with some of the biggest names in Latin music, including Don Omar, DJ Nelson, Plan B, Tego Calderon, and DJ Kazzanova. As a DJ, he has opened for stars like Daddy Yankee, Juan Magan, Calle 13, and Hector El Father.
When Luis isn’t DJing and promoting, he runs Latino Life, a website focused on the UK scene. He’s also a founder and managing director of the UK Latin Awards, which “recognizes the contribution of Britain’s one million Latin American, Spanish and Portuguese residents.”
We recently spoke with Luis about the UK scene and Latin music in general.
How did you get into throwing parties?
I was always involved in parties when I was in secondary school. I was a party animal and had a big record collection. I was into house, punk, and salsa music. When I first came to London, I landed a job at a Latino record shop called El Barrio. The owner was a promoter for Colombian acts in Europe. I learned a lot from him and started DJing. After a while, it was a natural progression to do my own thing.
What styles of Latin music are played at your events?
Mainly reggaeton these days, but with London being such a multicultural city, we mix it up with what’s popping here. It could be afrobeats, dancehall, hip-hop, Latin trap, etc. We sometimes have a room where we play more traditional Latino music such as salsa. But even salsa has got an urban treatment these days. There is a newish sub-genre called “Salsa choke” from Colombia, which is great and is gaining ground everywhere.
Have your parties gotten more popular with the rise of Latin music?
Yes, but there are also a lot of new people doing big events which kind of split the audiences a bit. But yes, the recent popularity of Latin music has increased the number of people at the parties for sure.
Jose Luis (Source: Jose Luis)
Where do you see Latin music going?
Getting bigger and bigger. Latinos are not a race, we are a culture, and our culture is made of many influences, which allows new influences to be part of it. For example, right now Baile funk is having a comeback. The latest big hit from J Balvin is a remix of a funkeiro track by Brazil’s MC Fioti, which features Balvin himself (Colombia), Future (USA), Stefflon Don (UK), and Juan Magan (Spain). “Despacito” just got a Mandarin-Spanish release for the Chinese market, and the list goes on. I truly believe Latin music, at least in the UK, has arrived and people will embrace it.
Do you see any potential between UK and Latin artists?
That is kind of my focus at the moment — to create a bridge. If UK artists realized the potential they have in Latin America, they would be all making Latino influenced beats! It is hard because the UK is a very dynamic and unforgiving market for artists, so they need to be on the ball. But I would love to see people like Skepta, Lethal Bizzle or even Wretch 32 doing Latino collaborations. For some reason, I never paid proper attention to Wretch and recently started listening to him proper. I can see him collaborating with someone like Residente. That would be sick!
What differentiates the UK Latin Awards from other Latin awards?
We are the only ones recognizing UK based talent. The UK is such an amazing place for music. Latin music is being created all over the world, and the UK, having such a massive variety of genres, is not an exception. We wanted to give UK and European artists a platform for the world to get to know them better. Most, if not all the major Latino Awards are created in the United States, and we wanted to create a counterpart in the UK and Europe.
What do you have planned for the future?
I just keep working man! I am a believer in hard work. This year we are planning two free outdoor events. One has been confirmed in the South Bank outside the Mayor of London’s office. It’s a festival called La Clave and will take place on June 9. We’re waiting to confirm the second event, but if it happens, it could be a game changer for Latinos in London and the UK.
Also, I just started a new show on Colourful Radio every Thursday. It is the very first urban Latin program on terrestrial radio or DAB, which is the equivalent to satellite radio in the UK. Once independent radio stations start playing it, it is just a matter of time until the big stations to do the same.
2018 should see me doing more music production, too. I have about 20-25 tunes to release with my crew La Kasha, which is a DJ-percussion crew. We are doing some mad stuff at the moment, trying to create a London Latino electronic sound. We’re already talking to labels about releases. Hopefully, I can get that on the road. And we are taking La Bomba abroad again. It has been a minute since we did a tour and international gigs with a full crew. We already have something about to be confirmed in Germany where I have been working for the last 10 years. I think that will keep me busy for the rest of the year!
1. Rocky Theme
2. MC João – Baile De Favela – Teriyaki Boys Blend
3. Dennis DJ, MC Léléto, & MC Maromba – Automaticamente
4. DJ Isaac – Jiu Jitsu
5. MC Fioti, Future, J Balvin, Stefflon Don, & Juan Magan – Bum Bum Tam Tam
6. Kid Kaio & Moradzo – Aranha
7. MC Kevinho – Olha A Explosao
8. Janessa – Tarraxa – JL Reggaeton Edit
9. Shinehead – Jamaican In New York – DJ Panji Reggaeton Mix
10. Daddy Yankee vs Ed Sheeran – Shakes of You – JL Mashup
11. Daddy Yankee – Dura – Refresh Hype Intro
12. DJ Nelson ft. Alberto Stylee – Flow Salvaje
13. J Balvin vs Toto La Momposina – Ginza’s Curura JL Mashup
14. El Chombo – Introduccion B – El Cosita Mix
15. Tropikore ft. Tony Touch, Chipy D, & Nigga Sibilino – Om Curry
16. Joe Arroyo – No Le Pegue A La Negra – O.M.F. Moomba Mix
17. J Balvin & Willy William – Mi Gente – Dillon Francis Remix
18. Lao Ra ft. Almighty – Me Gusta
19. Eve – Who’s That Girl – Stavros Martina Moombahton Bootleg
20. Pitbull – POW