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Q&A Interview: Chile’s DJ Raff & Latin Bitman head for an eclectic future in RVSB

Chilean DJs/producers DJ Raff and Latin Bitman make up Nacional Records artist RVSB. Courtesy photo.

Buddy movie pitch: A former one-man punk musician grounded in old school hip-hop teams up with innovative craftsman to create a whole new sonic level of EDM amalgamated with trap, tech house and Chicago juke.

Meet RVSB, composed of Latin Bitman and DJ Raff – two of the most imaginative DJs/producers to come out of the Chilean scene. They both hail from an extensive journey of collaborations and touring alongside, as well as from Santiago’s progressive hip-hop scene tracing back since the ‘90s. A few months ago, they released their self-titled debut where they deliver one of the most compelling DJ productions of the year as of yet.

We met up at the New Yorker Hotel, a few days after their riveting LAMC performance at Bronx’ Cotrona Park, to discuss their new self-titled album via Nacional Records (available in iTunes), DJ skill vs. great taste in music, and their most outrageous experiences in music.

Before you guys became Latin Bitman and DJ Raff, how were your early stages with music and DJing?

Latin Bitman: I first started playing instruments at the age of 15 or 16 in a punk way. I never really studied music [formally]. I began playing drums, then bass, and afterwards guitar. I didn’t need a rehearsal room or a band to play music, and that was a good thing because transitioning from [a solo man] playing instruments to becoming a producer was second nature. Computers came into my life in the ‘90s along with music software. From there, I realized I was able to do anything I wanted with computers. That was when turntables came into the picture. One day I woke up and had my own songs, so I started DJing in clubs. I never stopped to realize how this happened, but that was my own evolution. Computers and machines allowed me to do anything I wanted to create in songs.

DJ Raff: My beginnings in music were similar, with the exception that I didn’t play guitar or drums. When I was a child, I built curiosity with the way machines work. I started to open up radios trying to understand them. I had a little turntable that was my father’s, so I started scratching and pushing buttons. When the first computer came into my house, I immersed.

‘RVSB’ is available now from Nacional Records.

Both of you have been active DJing for quite a while. What made this duo finally come together?

Latin Bitman: Both Raff and I have been working together in between collaborations and playing together for over 10 years in Chile – from doing “versus” collaborations to turntablism and scratching. We’ve been hip-hop DJs the whole time, and just last year we decided to become a team and make this record [RVSB]. As a surprise for our public, and even for us, there is no scratching, and almost no hip-hop. It’s a lot more electronic because this is the time we are living right now in our career. We’ve had a great reception all over the world. We do music that is very global — from some Latin influences that you can taste and beyond. It’s what we do.

How similar or different is the DJ scene in Chile from the US?

DJ Raff: There are more similarities than differences. The DJ scenes in the US and Chile have the same vibe. It keeps growing bigger and bigger. A lot of cool DJs with lots of skill [in both countries] are experimenting with turntablism and scratching. Many DJs and producers are also making electronic music. The good thing about that is that they can create something in the afternoon and then play it at night. Nowadays, the world becomes smaller in the sense that this scene is global. If there’s something going on in London, New York, or Santiago, it’s going to be worldwide.

Since you guys emerged ten years ago, how have you personally seen this scene evolve and progress?

DJ Raff: DJing is very important right now. When I started at 12 or 13 years old, I was DJing in birthday parties. The people [running the parties] would place me in the kitchen to play music for the kids from there. Similarly, in the clubs back in the ‘80s, DJs had a DJ booth that was very far from the dance floor. It wasn’t like nowadays, where the DJ is an artist on the platform, and everyone in attendance is watching him [or her]. It’s constantly withstanding evolution.

What do you call a great DJ?

DJ Raff: When I first started, it was the skill – DJs who have lots of it. Nowadays, I look for DJs that have good taste. I prefer taste over skill because you can go to a place where you don’t know the DJ, but if he plays a lot of cool and fun things, it becomes the best party. For me, that’s the best thing in a DJ, as well as those who try to do something different. That’s what I’m looking for.

Latin Bitman: For me it’s quite different. If you see a DJ that has good taste in music, that’s important, however if he has skill that attracts me. I look for everything, from the production of the album to their DJing skills in the club.

Who are your influences right now?

Latin Bitman: I have a lot of influences from James Brown to Bob Marley to Kraftwork. It’s very open. I like rock, hip-hop, and Run DMC. Probably that’s why in my music there are a good mix of different styles.

DJ Raff: Nowadays, I’m listening to a lot of music from labels here in the States, for example Tri-angle Records, and also Warp Records from London. Basically, anything that is cutting edge.

What else is in stock for you this year?

Latin Bitman: We are premiering our first video together. It’s a huge video with a new concept. You will see the essence of Latin American culture with a universal concept. It’s very modern and has a very good taste visually. Expect something new and different for Latin alternative music and Chilean music.

Last question: for the time you’ve been active musically, I’m sure you’ve seen a lot. But from your memory, what has been the most outrageous experience?

Latin Bitman: Everything. It’s been over 10 years. I don’t even know where to start, but it’s usually always drunk people who do things that you don’t expect.

DJ Raff: I remember around 15 years ago when Marilyn Manson came to Chile. I was backstage watching the show and at the time, I didn’t even know who Marilyn Manson was, but only that he was big. All of a sudden, he started fighting with the sound engineer, beating the shit out of him right next to me. I thought: what the hell is going on?! The sound engineer was bleeding and everything. That was outrageous.

Isabela Raygoza

Isabela Raygoza is an indie music enthusiast who is on a lifelong search for discovering new sounds. She was born and raised in the borderlands of Tijuana/San Diego, and was exposed to a musical hybridity as a child working in flea markets and also impersonating Mexican pop artists as a kid in carnivals. Fast forward many years, she received her B.A. from UC Berkeley and M.A. from New York University. As a writer, music critic and musician, her works have appeared on MTV Iggy, Remezcla, VICE, NPR's KPCC, Latina Magazine, and Bitch Magazine.

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