African Nights in Santiago: Carlomarco’s trans-continental sounds


Context is a rather complicate thing. From 2010, Chile has experienced a palpable increase in the immigration of africans and other peoples of african descent, setting a frame for the emergence of new social opportunities and indigestions. New markets appear, prejudices rise or sediment, new links to the social reality are established from each and every one’s point of view, all of this mediated by the inescapable fact of difference: the interaction amongst peoples who speak different languages, have different cultures and whose skin tones reflect these or those nanometers in the visible light spectrum.



In spite of their geographic distance, Latin America and Africa have quite the bit in common, just consider that awkward “third world” label and those awesome good times with the Spanish and Portuguese empires around the XV century and further on. In regards to music, there seems to be an attunement between the two continents. An example of this would be the productions of Federico Palma – a.k.a. Carlomarco – who we met on night in Santiago’s Barrio Italia chugging down Indian Pale Ale and some other imported beers.


Always the music enthusiast, his tastes became accustomed to the notions of rhythm and flow predominant in african sensibility – passing away from the melody and virtuosism which best characterizes the “occidental”. Starting very early, with Corazones Rojos from the inevitable chilean pioneers of the synthesizer and the drum machine, Los Prisioneros, going through the works of Ari, the Spanish MC with a “perfect hook”[i], finally arriving at Miles’ Doo Wop. From those heights, it became easier for him to see beyond the more universally known afro-americanisms of Hip-hop and Jazz and gaze upon Africa; as it became globalized, yet preserving a certain purity to its sounds and feelings: the Africa of William Onyeabor and Msafiti Zawose.


When he was a little teenage boy and it the time came to pick his clique, he opted for rap, a penchant that he kept chasing after until he formed a Hip-hop project, Noctambulus. After walking a long way of Hip-hop production and making his incursion into mixing, he didn’t wish to appear as one of those deejays who play tech-house, as he wasn’t much enthused about that genre. Influenced by a wave of bass music in 2012 and in search of a greater plurality in discourse, ethnicity, aesthetics and culture he decided to shove all his knowledge an investigations of african music into his tracks, which totally caught the audience off guard, but earned him not a few, quite good reactions.



Recognizing that his work as a DJ and producer shows a prominence of the more “strict” or mainstream elements of Africa’s musical culture, he admits that is by no means his goal. More than presenting us with a solidified concept of the continent and its people – a cliché of sorts – Africa is more of an excuse, a means to show a diversity of voices and hues, aimed towards a plural knowledge: of multiple manifestations which can’t be exhausted by drum rhythms and samples. A multiplicity of Africas, peoples, customs and sensibilities.

In order to succeed in a social and cultural entreprise of this sort, he’s organized the event Noche Africana, along with a group of friends with similar tastes, namely Paulopulus (a bandmate from Noctambulus), Christian de Leiva (designer and scenographer) and Pableiro (World Music producer). The objective is to create a chilean scene of intense activity, with a new sound, new music and new cultural riches as they collaborate with artists from around the world.


If we check his facebook event invitations, we’ll find that they’re also translated to Creole, as they also wish to appeal to the Haitian communities in the city. This is because Carlomarco intends to take one step further from partyng, mixing and remixing, and have an impact on a communitary and social level, fostering a space for co-creation along the african and african-descended communities of Chile. He’s fowarded that around March of the running year, Noche Africana will take a turn towards cultural promotion.


If you wish to know more about Carlomarco’s african sounds, you can find his DJ Set for Live In Santiago 001 here: