September 25, 2008
All Good Things for Pacha Massive
By Phillip Zonkel
To say the group Pacha Massive was excited about its first concert is an understatement.
A friend of the genre-bending Latin duo, who had been together for only two weeks, got the group booked for its first gig - a Colombian Independence Day concert in New York City.
"Our first gig was Madison Square Garden," Ramon Nova exclaims.
The duo, who opened for Colombian alternative musicians Aterciopelados, performed its entire song catalog - all three songs - and then exited the stage.
Pacha Massive's concert was short but had a big impact.
"That was a sign of something. It happened so quickly after we were working together," he says. "We thought, 'Imagine what's possible with work and dedication.' "
Two and a half years later, that work and dedication has paid off with the duo's critically acclaimed debut disc, "All Good Things," and a concert in Hollywood on Friday at the Ford Amphitheatre, the group's biggest headlining show to date.
The Bronx, N.Y.-based Pacha Massive (from the Quechua word "Pachamama" meaning "Mother Earth") is the collaboration between Dominican-born writer-producer Nova, 33, and Colombian-born writer- bassist Maya Martinez, 28.
Nova has worked for more than a decade in New York City's local music scene, including the reggae-Latin fusion band King Chango, while a teenage Martinez learned in Colombia to play the electric bass and then the stand-up bass.
The two met in New York in 2005 while working on a music project with a mutual friend. The disc never saw the light of day, but Nova and Martinez, who respected each other's creativityand contemplated working together, kept in touch.
About a year later, the duo reunited and formed Pacha Massive. Within two weeks, the pair had created three tracks.
Following the Colombian Independence Day concert at Madison Square Garden, a buzz built rapidly, and Pacha Massive landed a hit single ("Don't Let Go") on the 2005 Peruvian film "La Mujer de Mi Hermano."
Within a year, "All Good Things" hit record shelves. On the debut disc, Pacha Massive has created a funky fusion that blends traditional Latin rhythms, such as Colombian cumbia and Dominican palo, with dancehall, dub and electronica. This mixture, which is brought to life by a cast of supporting players, erases the boundaries between the genres.
"We're a product of our surroundings. We have the best of Latin culture and U.S. culture. We're very open-
minded and consider ourselves global citizens," Nova says. "We just sat down to make music. It wasn't anything more than that."
Lyrically speaking, Nova says Pacha Massive didn't have an agenda to spread.
"We didn't try to have a political message or anything, either. It's hard when you're writing music and lyrics to not infuse them with your experiences. But we didn't do it in a way where we're preaching about our lives or views.
"Most songs deal with the struggles of everyday life, perseverance and those hardships we all go through to achieve our dreams," he says. "It's basically songs about learning how to make lemonade out of lemons."
Phillip Zonkel, (562) 499-1258 [email protected] MASSIVE WITH FEDERICO AUBELE
Where: John Anson Ford Amphitheatre, 2580 Cahuenga Blvd. East, Hollywood.
When: 8 p.m. Friday.
Info: (323) 461-3673 or www.fordamphitheater.org.
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