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Following on from previous documentaries in Colombia, Peru and Portugal, Native Instruments sheds some light on the group of artists, producers and DJs in Ecuador who have been referred to as The New Folklorists. In four videos by celebrated Colombian filmmaker Luis Antonio Delgado, NI looks into the unique elements and characters that make up a scene that retain strong connections to Andean culture, while pushing the boundaries of electronic music with MASCHINE, KOMPLETE KEYBOARDS and REAKTOR.

Ecuador is a country full of surprises. Not only due to its volatile active volcanoes, but also because it’s home to a fascinating music scene that has come to global attention in the past few years.  

Over the last half decade, a desire to preserve the unique Andean culture has been galvanizing a generation of electronic musicians in Ecuador to breath new life into traditional music in inventive ways. Looking to their rich traditions and dramatic natural environment for inspiration, these diverse artists are using technology to realize their ideas, and are winning fans all over the globe.  

Native Instruments dived into the scene to meet some of the key names, and see first-hand the innovative ways that digital technology – including MASCHINE and REAKTOR – is spearheading the re-appreciation of Ecuadorian music and culture. Meet the New Folklorists.

Watch Below. Subtitles are available.

Watch: Quixosis on MASCHINE – fusing acid house and san juanito

At the heart of Quixosis’ setup is MASCHINE. “The idea is to transfigure the roots and turn them into something relevant now.” This is how Quito resident Daniel Lofredo Rota, describes his approach to music. The result, in his own words, is a fusion of acid house and San Juanito – a form of traditional Andean dance music. He draws together sampling, synthesis, and analog gear with his exquisite viola performances to create a truly unique sound.

Quixosis is deeply connected (but not limited) to what could be termed the global downtempo phenomena – a style of sub 100 BPM electronic dance music that has swept across the world’s more cutting edge festivals and clubs. With labels and collectives such as Voodoohop (Brazil), Nomade (Chile), ZZK (Buenos Aires), Shika Shika (Paris) and Tropical Twista (Brazil/Lisbon), the scene perhaps represents, in Daniel’s words, the need for ”something less aggressive – less brutal. There’s an audience embarked on a quest to find something more organic – more peaceful, meditative, and introspective – within the familiar context of the club.”

Watch how he achieves this with MASCHINE in this intimate studio session.

Hear more from Quixosis

Watch: Quito band EVHA developed a series of REAKTOR ensembles linked to traditional Andean culture

EVHA’s five members came together in Ecuador’s capital on a quest to find their own voice in the crowded world of music. By combining folkloric traditions with electronic production they were able to carve a distinct sound, while at the same time celebrating their country’s rich cultural identity.

Build your own tools – download one of EVHA’s Andean REAKTOR ensembles

EVHA’s big challenge was to translate their studio-made sound into a live show, and showcase the strong sense of improvisation and exploration within their music. The band’s Alejandro Mendoza found the solution, through series of REAKTOR ensembles he created as a part of the collective Aborigen. Utilizing Native Instruments’ iconic REAKTOR platform, Mendoza created a series of custom built ensembles named in the Andean Kichwa language. These include the mono synth Puro, which refers to an Ecuadorian instrument made of pumpkins that provides the bass, Yapana (meaning Add) that is a vocal processor and looper that EVHA use live on stage. In the video below, Tukuna (costume or transform in Kichwa) is an ensemble created to “transform” percussion instruments, allowing for a greater variety of sonic possibilities that the original percussion would allow in a live situation.

With a set up that includes MASCHINE, MASCHINE JAM, KOMPLETE KONTROL KEYBOARDS and REAKTOR, NI offers the band a way to control almost every aspect of their performance, from automating vocal effects and looping phrases to using midi notes to trigger lights and visuals on stage.  

Head over to the band’s website to download the Tukana ensemble for free and connect with the band.