Moombahton on the march

Art September 30, 2011 00:00

By Manta Klangboonkrong
The Nati

Created by American DJ Dave Nada, this new genre of dance music might be coming to a club near you

A few years back, clubbers just couldn’t get enough of electro house and electro rock – electro everything in fact. That got edged out by dubstep – the British creation that’s closely related to drum and bass, dub and reggae – and now “moombahton” is all the rage.

Bangkok has always been a city of house and hip-hop. Local talents thrive and international superstar luminaries jet over to Bangkok venues for “exclusive” and “not to be missed” gigs. And ever since last year, when clubbers developed a liking for dubstep, what used to be a rare treat has become more commercialised and now city folks are hard pressed to escape a dubstep party on a night out.

But now we’re starting to hear mumblings about moombahton – though not yet at our clubs. It claims to be a “new” style of music and has caught the attention of DJs – both established and aspiring – all over the world. Since last year, hundreds of moombahton mixtapes and EPs have been launched on the Internet for free download.

The mastermind is DJ Dave Nada (known to his mum as Dave Villegas) from Baltimore. He created the sound at a high school party for his younger cousin in Washington DC in the fall of 2009. He slowed Dutch group Afrojack’s remix of the Silvio Ecomo and DJ Chuckie song “Moombah” from 114 to 108 bpm (beats per minute). That brought it to a slow enough tempo to resemble reggaeton, so Nada created the neologism moombahton by combining the track’s name with “ton”. His five-track moombahton EP was released in March last year, and since then he’s changed his title from a hip-hop spinner to moombahton creator.

Fans stress that Nada’s moombahton is not a tweaked and twisted version of dubstep. Those in the know say that the original moombahton tracks feature not only 108 bpm but also chopped vocals, extended build-ups, layered acapellas and percussion movement.

Since last year we’ve seen big labels such as T&A, Mad Decent, Fools Gold, Dubsided, and influential artists like Diplo, Tittsworth, Laidback Luke and Chuckie and Congorock embracing this new sensation.

Would the Bangkok crowd embrace it too? Steve “Manow” Moss, DJ and founder of UB Radio and party organiser has just heard it once through one of his resident DJs.

“Moombahton has enough elements to make it to the scene once some influential artists turn it into something exciting. Personally it’s a bit commercial for my taste, but some tracks are interesting. Time will tell if it becomes something more. Moombahton is certainly different (from dubstep) as it has more of a Dutch house beat, but I think it will become quite similar in the future.”

Folks can now explore the moombahton sounds on the Internet, but when it comes to live act, it’s still too far fetched to have a solid, decent act of the genre.

“In Bangkok I don’t know of any clubs that play moombahton. Moombahton might not be big here in its own way, but certainly it could be a part of an electro or Dutch house night. It may become a new sound that Thai partygoers get into,” says Moss.

“The bass heavy sound is already the next big thing, as TV commercials and popular artists are using it. Even Dutch house has also taken a leading position over electro and trance. As for moombahton, once the sound is really worked out and some influential artists put it on the map, it could very well be a future scene stealer.”