Daniel Valle-Riestra aka Qoqeqa releases his beautiful debut full-length album, Axuxa. Now sharing new tracks through the labels: Terror Negro Records (Lima), Eck Echo & Kebrada (Berlin). His sonic masterpiece, Axuxa, naturally traverses the boundaries of Afro and Latinx accents that inspired it. Valle-Riestra’s tribal riffs and Latin sounds transport you to another world of spicy rhythm sections and sub frequencies
Taking inspiration from his heritage and regional traditions, Axuxa encapsulates timeless melodies and makes sure the beats are never forgotten. Not only has his new album served up contemporary electronica that honours ancient rhythms, but also it has led him to perform sound meditation sessions at yoga retreats in the Amazon jungle and the Sacred Valley of the Andes.
For those not familiar with your music, could you tell us a bit about yourself?
Hola Metal Magazine, I’m a musician from Lima - Peru, blending Latin percussion rhythms with modern bass music and melodic Peruvian identity.
You are the first artist to drop solo material on Dengue Dengue Denge’s Kebrada label. How has this experience been for you?
It’s been great. Rafael and Felipe from Kebrada know me since my first steps in performing live about 10 years ago, so they’ve always been like older brothers to me. I feel very honoured that they chose to release this album of my latest musical explorations. I also feel that as Peruvians we are contributing to the history and evolution of our country’s music and making the label a platform to share it with the world.
Daniel Valle-Riestra is your real name but you go by, Qoqeqa, phonetically pronounced ‘kwo kwe kwa.’ Could you tell us the story behind the name?
It’s a word I made up to mean Coca leaf, a plant sacred to Peruvians for millennia. It also has a numeric meaning, and phonetically it has a triplet rhythm. It is pronounced Koh-Keh-Kah, with a hard Q.
What musical projects have you been involved in lately?
 I’ve been lucky that despite the lockdown there have been opportunities to share my music in different ways than the normal club nights and festivals. For example, a set from a tower in the middle of the Nazca Lines, an archaeological site near the coast with huge glyphs carved into the desert, which the drone footage explores during the set. Besides Qoqeqa, I performed sound meditation sessions at a couple of yoga retreats in the Amazon jungle and the Sacred Valley of the Andes.
At what age did you start to produce full time? Were you always interested in music?
I’ve been making music since I was a little kid, satisfying my curiosity for different instruments. I started professionally producing about 8 years ago, releasing on Argentina’s label ZZK records.
Would you say that your Latin background is integral to your music?
For sure, I have that groove in my blood and it bursts through me into my compositions. I’m just a conduit for timeless rhythms and melodies.
You mention the reason you do Qoqeqa is so that certain sounds are not lost in time. That you consider music an affirmation of our identity. How does the culture of an area reflect the music it produces?
My musical heritage comes from my family, regional traditions, and from the streets of my city. I am proud of these textures and incorporate them into my compositions to perpetuate and expand them.
Could you tell us a little about the graphics of your new album?
Martin Borini is the digital genius behind the cover art. He once did visuals and lighting for us at a gig in Berlin and it was amazing. All of his VJ work greatly impresses me. The artwork is an abstract texture in flux and so you can interpret it in many ways, like a Rorschach test. For me, in the cover I see like a map or continent of colours, and in the back-cover art, a face melting on acid. I was thrilled when Rafa showed me the final artwork, the vinyl sleeve has a glossy UV finish that complements the art perfectly.
What sort of equipment, instruments, and programs do you work with when creating your Peruvian Afro-electronic narratives?
I’m a percussionist so I respect the traditional cadences of Afro Peruvian and Latino music, but I explore them from a perspective of creating new patterns from those roots. Also, the wind and string arrangements I use on this album are drawn from certain geographic areas, but I modify them to create new sonic landscapes. The meaning of the album title AxuxA means A (hacia/towards) Xuxa (raíz/the source). A journey towards the source.
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