Uproot Andy and Geko Jones are the two DJ diplomats behind Que Bajo?!, one of New York’s most popular parties. Their musical mutations are often described as “tropical bass,” which basically means a grab bag of Latin, African, Afro-Carribean and especially South American music subverted through stomach-rumbling woofer-wreckage. Andy’s natural tendency to smush things together is readily apparent in his role as a seasoned remixer, in which he’s usually attempting to “moderniz[e] folkloric beats.” In their one recorded collabo, Andy and Jones make a booming, hyperactive club banger out of a track by Colombian bullerengue icon Etelvina Maldonado. The high-velocity original weaves in and out of a dubstep-slow groove, and the two tempos play against each other—meaning you can dance at whatever speed you wish.
How did you discover the music of Etelvina Maldonado?
Jones: On my first trip to Colombia I went to every music store I could find to look for sounds to bring home for Que Bajo?! It’s still the case that you can open CDs and listen before you buy in many stores out there. Etelvina’s voice sounded like a home run.
Andy: I had already done a number of remixes of cantadoras that have become more known internationally, like Totó La Momposina and Petrona Martinez, but when Geko brought this over and suggested we remix it, it was new to me.
What inspired this remix musically?
Jones: I played a rouugh mix out at a boat party and asked Andy if he’d chime in and add some of his flavor to the mix.
Andy: Like most of my remixes, this was primarily inspired by the original song itself—the idea not being to change it drastically but to take it into the context of the club. Geko and I both play a lot of straight up modern electronic music in our sets as well and the things we added to the tune reflect those styles, such as dubstep and ghettotech.
How did you two meet? What did you originally bond over?
Andy: We met in a club in Brooklyn. Geko was flyering for the first Dutty Artz party, New York Tropical, and the flyer had the word “cumbia” on it. I said “I make cumbia,” and we were pretty much friends.
How come you two have only worked on one song together?
Jones: We have a couple more we’re holding off on releasing.
Andy: Geko has been DJing and throwing parties longer than I have; I’ve been producing music for longer. But whereas I tend to always work alone, Geko mostly always likes to collaborate and more and more he’s been bringing stuff my way for us to work on.
What was the wildest or most memorable night of the Que Bajo?! party?
Jones: There have been so many. Watching Johnny Rotten from the Sex Pistols have a knees-up good time, the Cinco de Gallo parties, taking it on tour in Colombia… I can’t just call one.
Andy: The wildest inevitably are the hardest to remember. Our Cinco de Mayo party this year is fairly fresh in my memory though, and it was one of our biggest parties to date. We went through a lot of tequila and people were dancing all over the stage and by the end there seemed to be kissing couples strewn about. But that kinda describes all our parties honestly…
You guys have toured the Que Bajo?! party. Where was it most successful?
Andy: Hands down the best response we’ve had DJing together outside of New York had to be in the Carnival of Barranquilla this past march in Colombia. I guess it seems natural, being so influenced as we are by the music of that country, but the scene is different down there and we didn’t really know it would be so well received. In the U.S. the best cities tend to be those where a local party has already established the sound such as Tormenta Tropical in San Francisco and Peligrosa in Austin, Texas.
What are you planning to do for Saturday’s Central Park show?
Jones: I’m anticipating a lot of Dominicans in the audience, and Andy has a couple of tricks up his sleeve for that. I’m thinking I’m gonna go from Dominican dembow to San Andres Passa Passa.
Are you tailoring your set for an afternoon audience?
Andy: I think because so much of what we do draws from celebration music and carnival music that it’s already a good day time music. This isn’t minimal techno.
What’s your favorite place to eat in New York?
Jones: Malaysian spot called Nyonya on Grand.
Andy: That’s really impossible to answer. What I love about New York is the diversity of the cuisine. But having just come home from a five-week tour in Europe, I’m going straight to La Superior in Brooklyn for Mexico City street food.
The next Que Bajo?! party is Thursday, July 7 at Drom. On Saturday, July 9, Uproot Andy and Geko Jones bring the Que Bajo?! party to Central Park Summerstage’s Rumsey Playfield, where they will play alongside Afro-Colombian rappers ChocQuibTown, Dominican electro-merengue act Rita Indiana and Brooklyn’s own Ursula 1000.