February 02, 2023News / Tunes / Update
... If you're not yet familiar with Picó culture, a customized soundsystem style born in Baranquilla, on the Colombian Caribbean coast, celebrating local Salsa and Cumbia grooves along with the area's African heritage through Afrobeat, Rumba, Soukous and more amazing AfroLatin beats, have a look at The Guardian's aptly named photoseries Picó! Picó! Picó!, check the below great documentary out, and read on for Druidiscos interview !
- Ciao Nedim and Matteo, Could you introduce yourselves ?
Hello Malong, Hello Asymetrics! First of all thank you for the invitation and for including us in your space!
We are djs, record collectors and Picó owners/operators from Mondovì, a small town in North Italy.
We know each other from school days but we didn’t see each other very often back then. We met again some years ago and both of us were reggae vinyl enthusiasts, so we decided to start our dj project called Druidiscos. That was the start of our music/SoundSystem journey.
- Have you built sound systems before ? And is there a soundsystem culture in your area ?
Yes, our project was Sound Systems-Related from the very first days.
In the beginning we didn’t have any kind of speakers, we’ve done the first two or three gigs with a 30W Behringer speaker stolen from a friend and placed right under the consolle.
When we saw more gigs were coming we decided to buy for cheap two used vintage “Lombardi” speakers and a 300W per-channel power-amp.
We opened-up the Lombardis and turned it from full-range to three-way speakers using some very old passive crossovers, we painted the speakers in yellow and we were ready to go, our first little Sound System was ready, Druidiscos turned into Druidiscos Hi-Fi.
We’ve played many times with the Lombardi set-up and we loved it, we were able to bring it everywhere on the car-roof and probably we would never have decided to make a new Sound System . But life can be crazy and, one day, a person Matteo knew said to us that he had “a couple” of old speakers in a warehouse and he wanted to get rid of it.
We went to the warehouse and we found our treasure: 4 sub woofers, 2 low-mid boxes, 2 mid-high boxes (everything with drivers included!), 2 power-amps and more.
We filled a full-size van with PA audio equipment, for free and saving it from the dump. We were speechless, it seemed that all of that was god-send.
Many speakers needed re coning, and most of the amps and the other equipment needed assistance and repair but at that point we couldn’t escape from it and we started to make a new, proper Sound System.
We started from the two “factory made” sub woofers we found that day and we custom-built the low-mid, the mid-highs and the tweeters on top of it.
With that machine we started to make our first Sound System parties with bigger audiences and we truly learned a lot from all of it.
To shortly answer the second part of your question. No, there is no Sound System Culture in our provincial area, we are the only active project.
Turin is the closest main center of activity for Sound Systems, we played there many times. Massive shout-out to all the crews of Turin!
- Why and when did you decide to build a Picó ? What's the backstory :-) ?
So, the main part of the backstory of our Picó is probably the long answer to the previous question.
Eventually we decided to move from a “Reggae” Sound System to a Picó mainly because, at the same time of that “gear” evolution, our music selection changed massively from the early days.
In later years we started to embrace many other music genres, belonging especially from South, Central America and Africa. We’re absolutely not “pioneers” in this, there is a real and sounding movement of re-issue and research related to world music.
Our selection became quite distant from what Reggae Sound Systems represent to people and, after traveling through South America and spending some time in Barranquilla in Colombia, we decided to use the knowledge we gathered about Sound Systems to make the first Picó in Europe trying to bring the aesthetics and concepts of it in this part of the world.
Picós are by definition World music sound system, they are the result of the highly mixed cultural environment of the Caribbean coast of Colombia and they do not have musical boundaries or rules, they bring just volume, colour and sabor!
- Has the Picó influenced your music selection ? Do you play more African and Latin music lately ? And of course, when playing Reggae gigs these days, do you also bring el Maradona out ?
We would say that's quite the opposite, we were feeling a bit tight inside the reggae soundsystem universe as our selection was already heavily influenced from African/Latin/world music in general.
We are now of course much more free to play and crossing through the genres we love.
We don’t have exclusively-reggae gigs anymore, we make our own style Picó parties and we feel naked without El Maradona in the place.
- Being in the North of Italy makes you pretty central on the EU map, do you have plans to bring El Maradona to neighboring countries (France, Switzerland, Spain etc...) ? Do you reckon Picó culture could develop in the region ?
That's right, yes we already have some gigs planned and we are working and looking to add more. In a little bit more than a month we will travel to Zagreb in Croatia with possibly a stop in the North-East of Italy.
There is indeed a Picó culture in Europe and it's growing. We know for sure that more Picó s are going to fire the dancehalls soon! La Saramuya, first female named Picó , was built and designed in Barranquilla where currently is working but there is a plan to move it soon to Greece. In Paris there is an active plan for the construction of a Picó and there are few proper Cultura Picotera parties already active and running in Berlin, Koln and also Paris.
We are currently trying to organize a European gathering with all the picoteros & African/Latin/Caribbean selectors friends, a Reunion Picotera. That's our goal right now but we are not event managers so it’s not an easy job for such a organization. If we may, we would take the opportunity of this interview to say that if someone could be interested in this idea or in hosting the event we’ll be glad to get in touch and further explain what we have in mind!
- What's your top 3 records from Colombia ?
There are really so many great records made in the region, the following are inside our boxes from the very beginning.
Pim Pom - Wganda Kenya
La gaita del negro - Ricardo Mendoza
Tiro al Blanco - Afrosound
- Top 3 from Africa that would rock a dance in Baranquilla?
This is a hard one. We’ll pick three from our selection:
Cadence mudanda - Mbilia Bel
Jawaani - Trafassi
Monica - Lokassa Ya Mbongo
- Do you favor LPs or 45s ?
Due to historic / press reasons we have more Reggae Music on 7” , but for the rest of the selection we don’t have a “main” format. We know many 7” fetishists but that’s not our religion really.
- What are your favorite tunes to start/ close a set ?
We do not have a specific tune to start with but for sure we have some to close a set properly. On the mix we sent you we used our favorite.
We have “borrowed” that tune from some friends here in Italy (they may don't know actually), its a 7" Jamaican release from '72, a tune called Rock steady, played by The Marvels with the mighty Aretha Franklin.
- Favorite record to play to a packed dancefloor ?
We used to call it the Killer's Killer:
Moribiyassa - Kaba Blon
- Most underrated record/tune you often play ?
It’s a very common record, easy to find in Argentina. Great tune though, but yes, we are biased :-)
Maradona No Perdona - Pocho La Pantera
- Best record(s) ever ?
Almost impossible to answer properly, so we’ll give the honour to the entire Bob Marley’s album "Exodus".
It's surely a foundational album of both our individual music stories !