Hult Center: For those who would be hearing your music for the first time, how would you describe your sound?
Otto (Grupo Masato): Our sound is full of gentle energy that moves audiences to endless rhythms.
HC: Can you tell me about the music styles of Chicha and Cumbia?
Otto: ‘Chicha’ is derived from the ancient traditional fermented corn based drink known as chicha, which carries a ‘festive’ connotation. As it leads to ‘party’ and ‘partying’, the Electro-Andean music that resulted from traditional music on electric instruments was instantly associated to the sensation of a ‘chicha drinking’ celebration. Instead of maintaining the traditional huayno rhythms in Andean music, the ever present Cumbia rhythm was used instead. One could refer to Chicha as Cumbia because of this relationship, but Chicha carries a lot more than just that rhythm.
HC: Are there any special instruments that you use, unique to your sound?
Otto: For Chicha we don’t go too far out of the expected electric guitar, organ, electric piano sounds. The percussion is very Cumbia based, but Grupo Masato has no limits to the imagination of what and where to throw in some unexpected layers of sound. For Afro-Peruvian songs we do integrate tightly the cajón, cajita, congas, bongos, bells and, at times, quijada de burro (donkey jawbone.) We understand layering of textural fabric and this opens up the door for true moments of high-gear musical experience.
HC: Being from Portland, are there any local musicians that inspire your sound? Where do your influences come from?
Otto: We’re Portland based because most of us reside in Portland, but we are Peruvians, Venezuelans, Cubans, Puerto Ricans, North Americans that been exposed to musical styles from all over the world. That provides the ‘tooling’, if you may. Musical ideas are always being explored as we listen to other musicians worldwide, not just our Latin American sources.
HC: What can the audience expect from your upcoming live performance?
Otto: For some, it will be an unknown, as they may not even know what Chicha means. For some, it will be the party they have been waiting for. And yet, for some, it will be the connection to their own roots and will celebrate alongside the greatness of Latin American music.