Melding Latin American folk with electronic, Argentina is behind one of the most intoxicating contemporary musical genres, and up-and-comer Dat García is advancing the scene with her feminist lyrics.
The Buenos Aires-based artist was the first woman producer to be signed to ZZK Records, the label responsible for bringing the South American sound to an international audience, and with “Maleducada,” her first album with the company, she declared a lady rebellion.
Whether calling on listeners to revolt against the patriarchy or celebrating misbehaved femmes, the Monte Grande-raised singer combines the sounds she heard in her youth, like folkloric instruments and ’80s synths, with modern-day trip-hop to tell the stories of Latin America’s women’s movement.
We chatted with García about folktronic, creating cultural change through music, reclaiming the word maleducada and what the rising artist has in store for the next half of 2018.
1. Your style of music has been called folktronic, but it feels more nuanced than that. How would you describe your sound?
Acaba de salir un rarisimo zarpado remix casi Marilyn Mansonezco de mi cancion ANFIBIO by @ozomatli 's Wil Dog . Mientras tanto en Paris posaba con mi largo cabello para Maxime Bessieres de @studiophoto141 . Dale click! https://datgarcia.lnk.to/RemixesVol2 @zzkrecords #marilynmanson #datgarcia #remix #shoes #fluo #neon #hologram #anfibio #parisstreet #paris #musician #portrait #portraitphotography
I would describe it as folk-futuristic music. I like to tell stories, so I need sounds to make these words and emotions flow. You can find either instrumental songs or a verbal storm of hip-hop. It’s hard to describe my music with a single genre because I use musical styles as tools to build songs according to the things I want to transmit. A combination of a crazy variety of instruments from the past and the present that are not usually heard together is my music’s identity.
2. What sort of music did you grow up listening to and how did your upbringing influence your style today?
Escurriéndome para mañana💦que nos vamos con las pi a La Plata a hacer de las nuestras 🕺🏽en la Fiesta @zzkrecords junto a los #colombian @mitumusic . Atención #laplata que va a estar bien zarpe y es temprano! Tambien va a estar warmapeando El G @grantcdull en @larosachina @radiocantilo ustedes que estan cerquita mis invitados especiales ☄️
I grew up listening to Argentinian folklore mostly, but also international music from the ‘80s with strong synths. Through the windows, I listened to the cumbias of the neighborhood. All these sounds mixed together are familiar to me, so they became a huge influence on my style today.
3. Do you play or sample the folkloric instruments in your music? If the latter, about how many instruments can you play, and can you name some of them?
I have a studio at home. I’m currently a little bit of an instrument collector. I have regular instruments and folkloric instruments, such as the andean charango, native flutes, bombo leguero, caja, string instruments and a few whose names I don’t even know. Some I play and record, while some I sample and then use with some kind of controller.
4. While women have been making names for themselves in Argentina’s folktronic scene, the electronic music world remains male-dominated. When you were signed to ZZK Records, for instance, you became their first female producer and second female artist. What’s this like?
It feels good to walk in a man’s path and start to paint the walls in a different color. There are a lot of women opening their hearts and mouths, walking together, opening sensibilities in the way only women know how. WE BRING LIFE, WE SHOW LIFE, but I think in this last decade we are waking up and becoming aware of our power. ZZK Records is a label that I deeply admire, with a high degree of diversity, and a pioneer in sensitive Latin American music, so I’m very proud to be working with them.
5. What are some of the sexist experiences you’ve had, if any, in this industry and how did you/do you deal with it?
Luckily, I haven’t had sexist experiences. I’m very new in the industry
6. What does being maleducada mean to you?
Lo que mas me gusta es #jugar y si es con cosas imposibles mejor🧛🏻♀️ calate esta nota #zarpada de @billboard sobre mi música 🎧 http://www.billboard.com.ar/noticia/4451/dat-garca-jugar-a-lo-imposible. #datgarcia #music #latinmusic #fusion #triphop #hiphop #argentina #cumbiadigital #electrofolk #folcloredigital
In Spanish, the term “maleducada” combines having bad manners and being “poorly educated” in one word. For me, it is resistance to an older generation for whom the most important values in education are toward others, regardless of personal feelings. I’ve come to vindicate the body and the importance of putting my vision of who I want to be first.
7. Why do you think it’s a term that women, in Argentina and beyond, should reclaim?
If you are a child and you don’t do what your parents want you to do, they call you maleducada. If you don’t smile to people ,they call you maleducada. If you don’t cook for your husband, you are a bad wife. Women have always had a heavy load of stupid gender responsibilities. Whenever you do something, you have to remember not to overlook those gender responsibilities. It’s time to end that nonsense, and then, when all the women are awake, the world will have the change we all need and move toward a more sensitive society.
8. Do you think music can be a tool to disrupt gender norms and inequality in culture? If so, how?
I believe that all types of expression lead to freedom. The opposite of expression is silence. We had many years of silence, there are even cultures in which women cannot speak without the authorization of a man, so it could be music, dance, painting, anything, the important thing is to say what is happening to us. Music has the ability to express in clear, metaphoric, poetic or rough words, and I think that is a very powerful tool.
9. How do you hope people, especially Latina women, feel while listening to your music?
I hope that they feel the curiosity to question themselves, if they are really being themselves, or if they are being what is expected of them. I like it when my music encourages questioning things while dancing and enjoying good music.
10. What are you currently working on that you would like our readers to know about?
I am currently working on my next album and developing new aesthetic concepts for both my show and for a new video that I am about to make. I am also working with a team of musicians, researchers and dancers on a new way of interpreting dance, where the dancers are the ones who create music through devices on their bodies.