If you look up and down Chile you’ll find typical music of folklore, rock, cumbia… but you’d be hard-pressed to find a musician on the street, a producer in the studio, or a disc jockey on the radio mixing and blending such a wide range of musical genres. Latin Bitman is the man with the desire and talents to transverse musical boundaries in new, creative, and “ultra bailable” ways.
Photo courtesy of Latin Bitman
Funk, Soul, Jazz, Reggae, Hip Hop, Bossanova, Electronica, Cumbia and Dub are just a few of the genres that arm Bitman’s musical briefcase. But his art form wasn’t learned overnight. Growing up in 1980s Arica, on the Chilean side of the border with Peru, new music was not easy to discover. There was no SoundCloud, no MySpace, no Internet to instantly download a tune from halfway across the world. He would wait for music to travel from Santiago or sometimes the United States, but as Bitman puts it, “Thank God my old man listened to good music.”
As a youth, he listened to a lot of Rock and Punk. He recalls, “In 1986, my sister came to my house with a Beastie Boys album and a Run DMC album. That’s when I discovered Hip Hop.” His openness to new sounds inspired and motivated him to start his own projects.
Originally, “Bitman y Roban” provided some Bitman beats with sidekick samples. A friend of Bitman came to him with tons of samples. Small bits of a song that had been stolen from tracks, hence the name “Roban,” which in Spanish means rob or steal. Beyond the thievery of the corporations, “Bitman y Roban” is cleverly a play off a famous superhero duo.
Photo by Sarah Lintner
But at this time, the world of music was still very polarized. “These genres like reggaeton, house, moombahton didn’t exist. Just reggae, soul, funk, and they were unitary and stood alone. And to this day, I record with real instruments, without much synthesizer and effects,” comments Bitman.
In fact, Bitman plays a little bit of almost every instrument. “I taught myself everything. The first album came out in 1999, but it was a flop, so I gave up music and continued with graphic design. All the while, teaching myself, recording, mixing, editing, to create a full musical skill set.”
His music advanced from sample stealing, to a more complex and lengthy process, but it provided a more organic sound in production and recording. Dropping the “Roban,” DJ Bitman created a name for himself, enough to gain international recognition from a major US label, Nacional Records.
In 2009, upon the release of the album “Colour,” he dropped DJ from his name and added “Latin.” This distinguished his work from the millions of “DJs” in the world and added a brilliant flare to the old Bitman beats. Latin Bitman continues to build his brand through his sponsors and promoters, but at the end of the day, it’s about the music he likes.
“Most important to me is to make music that I like. Every year more and more people come on board but it’s because they like what I like. My objective is to grow as far as possible by doing just that; always playing live, recording, working with new people, and meeting new fans.”
Photo courtesy of Nacional Records
His hard work and love for his music lets him create an album or project at any moment. “People are super amazed when I complete an album in 2 weeks, but I’m the musician, producer, editor and designer,” says a motivated Bitman. However, in some cases, it’s worth investing time in a project.
For the past year Latin Bitman has been working on a new project called “The Ritmo Machine” with Eric Bobo, percussionist of Cypress Hill. The album is entitled “Welcome to the Ritmo Machine” and features many talented artists with different backgrounds and portfolios. It will be out November 8th and will provide all kinds of new flavors, sounds, and vibes to enhance the repertoire of Latin Bitman.