Two local musicians create an entirely new sound with gumbase, a gombey beat/electronic fusion. Curious? Listen in below.
What do you get when you combine current, electronic music, timeless gombey drums, and two of Bermuda’s most innovative producers?
You get Gumbase: a stunningly fresh, yet familiar, experimental fusion genre enticing to islanders and outsiders alike. Tagged under “tribal” and “trance” on producers Derek G and DJ Jussa Jus’ Soundclouds, Gumbase is sweaty and sexy, happy and haunted house music for people with joie de vivre and soul. Best of all, the beats allow gombey rhythms to cross-over from being an occasional street-based sonic treat to a year-round, indoor, multi-mood, multi-purpose genre. Pump out a project to “Potato Skin dRums” or paint to the rock-infused “Where is my mind.” Whether you want to break a sweat or flex, Gumbase manages to deliver.
The Making of a Genre
After hearing live samples of Warwick troupe recorded on Derek’s Macbook at a Destination Dockyard performance, producer/gombey/guitarist DJ Jussa Jus knew the sounds would mix well with electronica. They played around with the samples in Derek’s bedroom-slash-studio, and hooked up Jus’ snare drum to SM57 and Cadenza mics. Kofi (aka Jussa Jus) played standard rhythms and rim shots while Derek recorded 10-15 minutes of sound. They agreed to do one track each, and went their separate ways.
The first two tracks in the Gumbase project were radically different in style, tempo, and key. Derek was immediately impressed with Kofi’s “I hear ‘em”, but wondered if his own enthusiasm had clouded his judgment.
“I thought [Potato Skin dRums] was a bit weird,” Derek admits. “I thought I went over the top with it.”
But the response they received from the first round was encouraging, and pushed them to produce better, even more progressive tracks. “It wasn’t about just doing one track each,” Derek adds.
It was about creating a movement, so people can actually follow it and get into it, and be inspired to embrace Bermudian culture with new age music. There’s not many people embracing Bermudian culture in music. It’s people embracing other cultures, or what people see on TV….
Derek is humble and respectful towards his predecessors, but very clear on where the music needs to go. He wasn’t feeling Shine Hayward’s 2010 “Saxy Drummer Boy” a Christmas single featuring saxophone atop Pickles Spence Gombey Troupe beats (click here for the RG article). “The genre that we’re working on now, it needs to be something more than just the same old, somebody just going over this or that. It needs to be something unique in its own entirety, have its own growth to it, similar to house or garage.
What’s next for Kofi?
Catch Kofi at the The Gombey Beat Initiative, tirelessly curating the web for international gombey culture. In his words, the initiative aims to “celebrate, understand, learn and preserve the intricate and driving drum rhythms that give life to the Bermudian Gombey dance tradition.” So far, he’s posted pics of his handmade gombey headdress in progress, local gombey events and sightings, and links to folk-life literature. He also posts remarkable videos of global dance traditions reminiscent of our gombey. The similarity of the Dominican Guloyas, Montserrat Masqueraders, and the Frevo of Brazil to our street dance culture is remarkable!
When our gombey isn’t drawing connections between dance and music culture in the diaspora, catch the man of many monikers cooking up some really top-notch work at The Red Planet on Soundcloud.
My favorite sounds so far:
- Momentary is more Meaningful (not to be confused with Meaningful is more Momentary)
- Folklife (both on DJ Jussa Jus’ Soundcloud)
- Where is my mind
- I, AmErykah
- The Match Bearer
- Is Comin On
What’s next for Derek?
The Stealth Ninja Chronicles II Mixtape, Derek’s first of its kind full-length showcase dropped on Christmas Day 2012, just hours after his interview with kulcha!. From spoken word, fiction, adventure music, and “real rap raw,” Stealth Ninja II features “the best Bermudian artists” Derek’s “ever worked with,” with the prolific producer’s beats backing all 22 tracks and 14 artists, including Imari, Bento, Rowdy Piper (R?ddla), K.A.S.E, Canjelae, Haz, Yesha Townsend and Dewhurtz. As of publication, SN II has already attracted over 1200 views on datpiff. My favorite tracks: Track 5, Future Sorted and Track 21, Purple Helium.
Favorite Sounds from Derek G.
- Skank Dank tied with The Call Part 1
- V80, ft R?ddla & RobGnarly
- Hot Cross Buns
Co-founder Derek G summed up the new genre saying simply: “It’s that tribal shit.” As told by Derek G. to K.