Author: Nathalia Guerrero
Photo Credit: Ross Uribe
Julianna and Dani Boom agree on one thing: the months of lockdown and deactivation due to the pandemic were far from being a good time in their lives. The lockdown, added to the pause that the cultural scenes experienced around the country and the world, the personal experiences and in some cases difficult moments of mental health, made this period a challenge on many levels, but a space that became necessary for reflection.
Among the many questions that the different people who make up the electronic ecosystems were able to ask themselves, in the midst of the obligatory stillness, there was one, the question of the sustainability of the electronic scenes, which could be felt to be the main one, due to its transversal nature.
To ask oneself at that moment about everything involved in a cultural ecosystem was, at the same time, an interrogation, and a latent concern: what elements must survive for sustainability to be a reality? Is it something that can only be achieved collectively?
For Julianna, one of the most representative DJs and electronic producers in our country, the answer lies in self-care, horizontality and healing. For Dani Boom, DJ, producer of the old school generation, and member of the renowned Caribbean musical collective Systema Solar, the answer lies in generosity and gratitude.
Both artists are part of the compilation ‘Atlantic Stereo’, an initiative of post-pandemic weaving between electronic artists from France and Colombia, led by the alliance that the Nuits sonores festival has had with Colombia for years.
Julianna, in collaboration with Zadig, French producer and DJ, achieved with their track ‘The Flying Soda’, a journey that navigates between electro and a sci-fi sound that evokes darkness. Meanwhile, Dani Boom collaborated with Cornelius Doctor & Tushen Raï to create ‘Transatlantic (La France C’est Pas Paris)’, a danceable sonic mixture with a provincial feel.
We asked both artists about their reflections on sustainability, collectivity and future of the electronic ecosystems of which they are part, after what each of them experienced during the most critical moments of the pandemic.
Julianna: ‘Let’s get out of the idea that the party is a place of resolution, it can also be that space of healing’.
Julianna claims to be in a moment of crisis, because she can’t find the answers to the questions she has been asking herself about the electronic cultural circuit she has inhabited since 2007, when she began her artistic career. This DJ and producer from the third wave of DJs in Medellín has founded record shops such as Doce, which no longer exists, has been an event promoter and cultural manager with renowned collectives such as Move, of which she is no longer a member, and has traveled several countries around the world representing our country with her versatile talent as a music selector.
Today, Julianna is clear about two things: that not making a living from her art is a decision she is sure of, and that electronic parties have to change. “I don’t know how yet,” she says, “but I don’t align myself with what’s going on, because obviously people change but the environment is still the same and it’s shocking because you’re not part of it anymore.”
Her collaboration with Zadig for Atlantic Stereo felt almost natural because of their long-standing friendship. “Zadig has always had a very important connection with Colombia”, she says, who says that during the National Strike in our country, the artist lent his networks to make visible what was happening.
During the process of creating the track, she always felt at ease to ask what she didn’t understand: “I learned a lot to turn the things he did around and then send them to him”. Her only difficulty is that “When you’re with someone else, you can finish a track in one or two days, but we took many months”, mainly because of the distance.
Sustainability is a reflection that Julianna has made, and her first response to this question is a horizontal work in which not only artists, agents and promoters participate, but also the public itself. For her, this horizontality must be crossed by a search to offer different things at the festival. That was one of the reasons why she left the collective she was part of, Move. “A lot of people were out of work and we realised that it’s a scene with no ground, there’s nothing there,” she says, thinking back to that critical period of the pandemic. That’s why, also, she makes now part of ECO, a platform focused in collectivity and interdependence for Colombian and regional electronic scenes.
After those months, when she returned, she felt in a very visible way the contrast of the consequence: “Right now there is a very crazy outburst and very big mental health issues that no one is embracing”. She herself experienced a very bad bout of depression last year, and has a history of anxiety, mental health conditions that led her to make decisions such as giving up alcohol and focusing much more on self-care, something that is not common among her DJ colleagues.
She has even had to live through the loss of close friends from the scene who opted for suicide. “We have to get out of this very corporal question that we have been asking ourselves for years that the party is a resolution, but that it can also be a space for healing, which I still don’t know how.”
For Julianna it is key to resume horizontal connections and collaborations for the future of the electronic scenes. This is why she has focused on making joint works with artists such as Matías Aguayo, or decides to participate in this type of compilations. “International collaborations should continue, although sometimes I question it and say ‘well, how can this be done in a fairer way for everyone, because here (in Latin America) very cool things have been happening for a while now, why do we have to validate ourselves abroad?” That is why, for her, the collaborations within our region have a very special value.
Dani Boom: “Sustainability is about creativity”.
“My case was very dramatic,” Dani Boom replies when I ask him about his experiences of the pandemic. Despite saying this, he also accepts that he enjoyed those months of lockdown, where he was able to dedicate himself to creating. “Talking about the sustainability of the scene is a very broad topic that has to do with the collective artistic health, and with being able to generate broad things that give people opportunities”. While the clubs and bars ‘sucked dust into oblivion’, as Dani says, this artist, whose real name is Daniel Broderick, was able to reflect on the most essential and basic things: “Things like air, food, water and land”.
Dani Boom has an extensive and celebrated career in the country and the region. Among his many projects, he is best known for being the founder, producer and DJ of Systema Solar, one of the most joyful and resonant Caribbean acts on the local and even global scene.
However, many years before Systema, Dani Boom was able to reside in Europe, where he immersed himself in the waters of freedom that were being navigated by the raver culture at that time in the 90s, hand in hand with collectives like Spiral Tribe, which ended up having an influence on the Bogota electronic scene precisely because of a French-Colombian alliance at that time.
The conjunction, at that time, was given by a legendary collective called Bogotrax, initially made up of French and Colombian artists, which was self-managed, free and took place for one week a year in different parts of Bogotá. Today, after a break of several years, a pandemic and several generational changes,
Bogotrax is still alive in the Colombian capital. “All this is the fruit of this spirit of collaboration, support, generosity, curiosity, musical research and community”, says Dani, for whom the Spiral Tribes were a very important seed between the Bogota and French raver families. “It’s nice to see how these collaborations evolve with new players.”
In the case of Dani Boom, he joined forces with Cornelius Doctor & Tushen Raï to release the compilation ‘Transatlantic (La France C’est Pas Paris)’, a track in which the French part put a base in dialogue with the Colombian artist, and Dani ended up contributing his voice. “I thought it was very cool and I decided to sing, there wasn’t much else to do, it was more about flowing with it. As they are from Lyon, I started to sing that Paris was not France, appealing to the feeling of the province, and they liked the message, they thought it was funny”.
For Dani, this type of collaboration is a great example of connectivity, communion with people and freedom. “I think creativity and generosity are fundamental when it comes to sharing, and I’m not referring to something aesthetic, but more to a feeling.”
Generosity is perhaps the concept Dani Boom reflected on most during those months of pandemic. “At this moment in my life I’m very generous”, he says, saying that before calculating whether to collaborate with someone or not, he prefers a generous attitude towards art. “As a creator I fight with my own vanity, it’s not a question of whether I like it or not.” If the artist feels that the message is clear, and it is a message of positivism, reflection and good vibes, “That’s the basis for creating a work,” he says. That is the mystique that currently governs the DJ and producer. “That mystique is the driving force, and then comes the aesthetic and taste part”.
The other word that has orbited Dani Boom‘s life lately is thankfulness. For example, with Systema Solar he says, “You are more grateful for the opportunity to do things and to be alive”. Returning to the stage with the collective, being able to play new generations after the pandemic has been vital for everyone. “It’s realizing that there’s a legacy and a joy to represent, because if you don’t go, who does?” he wonders. “We are still vibrating together with a desire to make people vibrate and receive. I do it with a lot of joy and a lot of strength”.
About the author
Nathalia Guerrero is a feminist journalist and editor focused on women’s realities, electronic culture and the recording of countercultural stories. She is currently co-founder and Editorial Director of MANIFIESTA, a Colombian digital media with a feminist perspective.
Former editor of VICE Colombia’s print magazine and former sub-editor of its digital platform. Editor of THUMP Colombia, VICE’s electronic music platform. Winner of the Simón Bolívar Journalism Award in 2016. ICFJ Fellow 2021. She has published in media such as The Washington Post, Arcadia, Shock and El Espectador.