Zalama Crew

Zalama Crew: DJ Cronic Interview on La Melodia & More

La Melodia

The Melody transcends the border of musical genres and transforms into the concept with which we express our originality, feelings, thoughts, and most importantly: how we cope with everyday life.

La Melodia (The Melody) is what Cali’s fusion music & visual collective Zalama Crew call their sounds. Sounds right up my alley doesn’t it?  It is. The live Zalama Crew show I found in Medellin was fantastic. I discovered their new EP Everyday Fight is equally as great.

DJ Cronic was generous enough to fill me in more on Zalama Crew’s history & different musical projects. Here’s what he shared with me…

Zalama Crew logo

In the beginning

Zalama CrewQ: Zalama Crew is a musical and visual collective of 10 artists in your 6th year together. How did a collective of 9 chicos and 1 chica come together in Cali to make fusion music?

A: Everything started with VJ Paul Dub, DJ Cloon and DJ Cronic founding a space with a rehearsal room and recording studio for alternative and folklore bands in Cali called Zalama Producciones. In this time singers and musicians came to record and hang out in our space so we started to make jams sessions and suddenly we put together what’s called Zalama Crew.

Frank (Guitar) and Ana (Flute/Sax) come from jazz and folkloreBilly (Bass) comes from punkAlvaro (Drums) comes from reggae and the 4 MC’s from hip hop and reggae/dancehall.

Zalama Crew-Live-La Feria de las

The Evolution

Q: Tell me about the about the musical evolution of Zalama Crew over the years.

A: Well, we started as a sound system group with the DJ and MCs and then we added the band.  We’ve experimented with how to blend those elements to make a strong and powerful sound that we called La Melodia Music. We’ve learned to live and know each other personally, so we are more connected now and our music reflects that with a more mature and clear sound – knowing that we have to improve even more every time we rehearse and perform.

Zalama Crew live @ la Negra Noche - la Feria de las Flores 2013-

Urban World Music Lovers

Q: Zalama Crew describes yourself as ‘urban world music lovers’. Which artists inside and outside of Colombia have inspired and influenced you?

A: We’ve been influenced by The Roots, Thievery Corporation, Bob Marley, Massive Attack, Gorillaz, Sidestepper, Pink floyd, Asilo 38, Orishas, James Brown, The Commodores, Ruben Blades, Ismael Rivera and many others.

Zalama Crew-Live-La Feria de las

The Live Experience

Q: What experience are Zalama Crew and the people at your live shows likely to have?

A: It’s pretty nice and that’s what we like the most, because we get in touch with the people and their feelings so close, through dancing moves and visuals, trying to show and exchange our identity making the people part of it. [it’s pretty nice…Beaver]

Visual Arts

Q: VJ Paul Dub is a part of the Zalama Crew collective. What do you think having visual art adds to the live Zalama Crew experience?

A: The VJ and the visuals complement and step up the concept of Zalama Crew, driving the people to assimilate and picture what the music says, showing some context of where we are inspired from.

Zalama Crew @ La Negra Noche - Parque Cultural Nocturno - La Feria de las Flores - Medellin 2013 - Beaver on the Beats

Zalama Producciones

Q: Zalama Producciones is the Papa Bear of Zalama Crew.  I’ve heard positive things about the support its given to other independent artists in Cali.  Tell me about Zalama Producciones and its mission?

Zalama Producciones - Zalama Crew

A: We try to support other artists with music production and videos, events, workshops and practical tips. We created an event called ‘Escucha y Rota’ where we invite other artists from a zone or part of the city to make music and video workshops, finishing with a concert with musicians from the zone.

Q: Any interesting Zalama Producciones projects you want to share?

A: We’ve worked with MC RimasAeropirataColombian Gangsters and Rio Burning.

Fusion Music in Cali & Colombia

Q: Tell me about what’s happening in the contemporary music scene in Cali, especially in fusion music?

A: The scene is in a very important moment. It’s like a new revival of culture and the appropriation of identity of our country and city. There are many bands creating music with the influences and research of our Colombian roots mashed up with contemporary sounds coming from different latitudes of the world. It’s the desire of making our traditional music more universal and letting other artists resigning the music with different styles.

Q: Is there a growing receptiveness of Colombians in Cali & elsewhere to urban world music Caleno with its mix of mostly non-traditional Colombian genres like hip-hop, reggae, soul & drum & bass?

A: Yes, this is the moment that people are tired of listening to the same rhythms and music, and want to hear something different. Thanks to social networks and the internet it’s easy to listen to different bands and artists from all over. At the same time it’s important to create a stamp to differentiate from each other and people also have many options depending on the taste.

Zalama Crew-Live-La Feria de las

Sergent Garcia

Q: Sergent Garcia is probably my favorite male artist creating Latin fusion music. How was it that Zalama Crew came to record the song Calentura Mi Son with him?

A: We played at a showcase in the Medellin music market ‘Circulart’ in 2011.  Sergent was the artist to close the event and he watched us play. After it he came to us and met the band. Later in February of 2012 he got in touch with us to say he wanted to do an artistic residence with us. We didn’t know what it was and then he came to Cali and hung out with us for 15 days.  In that time we learned tricks and advices, recorded 2 songs and made a videoclip here in our Cali streets. We were so excited for all that we learned from him.

Zalama Crew & Sergent Garcia

Photo courtesy of

Q: What did you take from your experience of working with Sergent Garcia?

A: He taught us some practical tricks and professional techniques to get a better show and performance, interaction with the audience and about humbleness and professionalism.

The result of this was the recording of 2 tracks and the videoclip of the song Calentura Mi Son. Thanks to him for the vibe and for being so humble and professional.  We are still talking and keeping in touch with him when he comes to visit Colombia.

Que Mas?

Zalama Crew - Everyday Fight - EP cover -

Q: The EP Everyday Fight has just been released. You’ve toured it a bit in Colombian cities recently. What’s next for Zalama Crew?

A: We are working on going to Mexico, Spain, Argentina and Chile in 2014.

We also just published our work with legendary masters of San Andres Orange Hill, a traditional calypso and soca group from the Colombian Caribbean islands. We recorded 1 song called Jumping to Jumping where we mixed the traditional calypso with the Zalama Style. Here is the link where you can watch it and download it for free. I hope everybody likes it.

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Zalama Crew’s Everyday Fight Doesn’t Disappoint

Have you ever found a band at a fantastic live show, only to buy their CD and find out it makes you a bit sleepy next to the live experience? I have. Many times. The most recent for me was Tarrus Riley, my great live find at Reggae Sumfest.

Zalama Crew - Live @ La Negra Noche, Medellin - August 2013

Zalama Crew live @ La Negra Noche, La Feria de las Flores Medellin – August 2013

I loved Zalama Crew’s live show at  Negra Noche in Medellin last month.

From there I kind of expected their 2013 EP Everyday Fight to be disappointing.     It definitely was not that.

If you love like I do, good sounds of really well blended hip-hop, dub reggae & soul, with some Latin rhythms in the mix, you’ll love the tunes on Everyday Fight.

Zalama Crew - Everyday Fight - EP cover -

My ears lock into the intro beats of Track 1 immediately. Slowly slowly the sounds keep building. I can’t stop listening. I wonder, and wait in anticipation for whatever might be coming next.

01 Llego La Melodia

It sounds like it could be something special yes?

Track 2 kicks in, and there it is.  My body has to move to the music. And I’m in it.

02 Escucha & Rota

From there I stay in it. Engaged with each of the different soundings songs on Everyday Fight until the end.

That end is my only disappointment with the EP really. After the 7 songs are over I always wish there were more to come.

Zalama Crew Listen to Everyday Fight tracks @  &

You can buy Everyday Fight from:

*  Almacenes la Musica (in Cali, Colombia), or

* ITunes (elsewhere in the world)

& find more Zalama Crew music too…

Zalama Crew are a collective of independent artists from Cali, Colombia.

Zalama Crew = band (human bass, drums, flute & guitar players yes + DJ Cronic +   4 MC/Vocalists + VJ Paul Dub.

Zalama Crew

Anyone want to go to Cali this week for the live Zalama Crew experience? Yo si.


DJ Cronic chatting about Zalama Crew, Zalama Producciones, fusion music in Colombia, working with Sergent Garcia and more,  soon.

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DJs With Bands = Musical Diversity +++

Many of the fusion bands I have heard live in Colombia (and/or have on CD), have a DJ in the musical mix.   Those DJ’s play a fundamental part in the diversity of sounds created by the band as a whole.

Live music is the ultimate musical experience for me.

A great DJ to dance or listen to is also an awesome musical experience.

The 2 combined: DJ + a band = musical diversity +++, live.

A DJ can create any and as many different sounds as he/she wants yesMusicians can’t do the same thing with instruments, can they?

Combine the musicians and the DJ’s (+ of course emcees & vocalists), and you have complete musical freedom to be as diverse as you want yes? The sound possibilities are endless.

Or no? 

Add a VJ into the mix and you have visual diversity with the auditory yes?

Official sites of these groupsBajo Fondo – Bambarabanda – ChocQuibTown – Dubioza Kolektiv – Mitu – Papaya Republik – Pulenta – Sidestepper – Systema Solar – Troker – Zalama Crew


Reviews of gigs, sample music & other info about these groups by Beaver on the Beats @Bajo Fondo –  Bambarabanda –  ChocQuibTown – Dubioza Kolektiv –  Mitu –  Papaya Republik –  Pulenta –  Sidestepper –  Systema Solar –  Troker –  Zalama Crew

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Zalama Crew – Best New Colombian Fusion Music Find

I was going to give La Feria de las Flores events in Medellin a miss this year.

Changing my mind and going to Sunday’s Negra Noche (‘Black Night’) – part of the Parque Cultural Nocturno program in La Feria de las Flores – was a blessed thing for the three new musical discoveries I made.


One of those new finds is Zalama Crew – my first taste of fusion music from the Colombian city of Cali, and my best new Colombian music find this time around in Colombia.

Zalama Crew live at Negra Noche - Parque Cultura Nocturno 2013 - Medellin - Beaver on the Beats

Zalama Crew at La Feria de las Flores

Zalama Crew at Negra Noche were 9 guys:  4 singers/emcees (Dr Rata; Bing; Maik Cel; Osound); Bass (Andres); Guitar (Frank); Drums (Alvaro); DJ CronicVJ Paul Dub.

Zalama Crew - La Negra Noche - 2013 -

Note – nine band members on stage and no live horns (their usual sax/flute player missing) – and I didn’t even notice until it was over.  That’s a good sign.  The music was so  full and engaging that I didn’t miss the live horns like I usually would.

Zalama Crew dub themselves ‘urban world music lovers’ – a good description given the diverse mix of music they create. I heard so many different flavours in the mix – all blended together seamlessly and played with such style – Hip Hop, Electrónica, Jazz, Drum & Bass, Bossa Nova, Cumbia, Punk, Soul/R&B, Salsa, Rock, Dub, Dancehall & Ragga.  I might have forgotten some!

Zalama Crew live @ Negra Noche - Parque Cultura Nocturno 2013 - Medellin - Beaver on the Beats

The performance of this collective was really energetic and engaging – especially with the individual and combined vocals and raps of the 4 different singers and MCs moving around the stage.

Zalama Crew concert in Medellin, Colombia 2013


Those singers and MCs + the interesting sounds mixedup by DJ Cronic + the instrumentation &  musicianship of the band  = a really cool mix of diverse and original sounds.

Zalama Crew live @ Negra Noche - Parque Cultura Nocturno 2013 - Medellin - Beaver on the BeatsZalama Crew live @ Negra Noche del Parque Cultura Nocturno 2013 - Medellin - Beaver on the Beats

I am loving all the VJ’s in the Colombian fusion bands I’ve been catching live – and VJ Paul Dub from Zalama Crew was no exception.  Very cool, interesting, beautiful visuals.

Zalama Crew live @ Negra Noche - Parque Cultura Nocturno 2013 - Medellin - Beaver on the BeatsZalama Crew live @ Negra Noche - Parque Cultura Nocturno 2013 - Medellin - Beaver on the Beats

I loved most of the songs Zalama Crew played at Negra Noche – and my body wanted to dance.  There were a couple of the slower songs I was less into, but the performance was still stellar and kept my eyes and ears glued to the stage every moment.

Zalama Crew were simply awesome.

I have Zalama Crew’s EP Everyday Fight to take home with me and check out – but I imagine the live experience of this group is where the most magic is at– like I always hope it will be with any musician.

Short video of Zalama Crew’s show here…


On top of my Zalama Crew find – Negra Noche introduced me to 2 other phenomenal bands – 1 fusion band and 1 band as traditional as they come.


The Big Band Tennessee Jazz University – a big band from the University of Tennessee in the U.S. – put on an incredible show of funk and jazz music.  The quality of the musicianship was stellar, as was the fun and energetic stage show.

Big Band Jazz Tennessee University @ la Negra Noche de Parque Cultura Nocturno 2013 - Medellin - Beaver on the Beats

Big Band Jazz Tennessee University

Super short video from the end of the Big Band Jazz Tennessee University concert here…


The 3rd phenomenal act I found, closing Negra Noche, was Las Alegres Ambulancias.

Las Alegres Ambulancias @ Negra Noche - Parque Cultura Nocturno 2013 - Medellin - Beaver on the BeatsLas Alegres Ambulancias @ Negra Noche - Parque Cultura Nocturno 2013 - Medellin - Beaver on the Beats

Las Alegres Ambulancias hail from San Basilio de Palenque, a town on the Colombian Caribbean Coast.  The Palenqueras are special in that they have completely preserved the African traditions and language originaly bought to that region of Colombia with the slaves during the Spanish conquest.

The music of Las Alegres Ambulancias was traditional Palenquera music, pure as they come.

Las Alegres Ambulancias @ Negra Noche - Parque Cultura Nocturno 2013 - Medellin - Beaver on the BeatsLas Alegres Ambulancias @ Negra Noche - Parque Cultura Nocturno 2013 - Medellin - Beaver on the BeatsLas Alegres Ambulancias @ Negra Noche - Parque Cultura Nocturno 2013 - Medellin - Beaver on the Beats

It was a really special show for me, and everyone else in the audience, especially proud Palenqueras.

Negra Noche del Parque Cultura Nocturno 2013 - Medellin - Beaver on the BeatsLa Negra Noche del Parque Cultura Nocturno 2013 - Medellin - Beaver on the Beats

And note Las Alegres Ambulancias’ beautiful female bass player:

Las Alegres Ambulancias @ Negra Noche - Parque Cultura Nocturno 2013 - Medellin - Beaver on the Beats

Video of Las Alegres Ambulancias’ show here…

Ever so happy I took myself out to friendly, good vibes, open air Negra Noche to experience 3 incredible shows by 3 special bands new to me.

Zalama Crew + Big Band Tennessee Jazz University + Las Alegres Ambulancias – muchas gracias!

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