Zizek is a weekly dance party thrown in Buenos Aires, Argentina whose artists mix South American sounds in a completely new and exciting way. The club’s manager is a 31-year-old San Antonio native named Grant Dull, who has called the “Paris of South America” home since 2003.
Dull and a group of Zizek artists will be bringing their mash-up sounds to the U.S. in March, playing dates in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, New York and Austin.
They’ll be appearing at SXSW on Thursday, March 13 at the Ninety Proof Lounge.
Journalist Brian Byrnes spoke with Dull just prior to his departure for Zizek’s first international tour.
Brian Byrnes/Austin Daze: What is Zizek?
Grant Dull: Zizek is a local gathering in Buenos Aires thrown by two DJs and a promoter-turned DJ that strives to be a modern party that mixes all kinds of genres and where the number one concern is the dance floor. So from that concept we started experimenting with different sounds and DJs and bands to see what worked, and it’s been working. What we do is reinterpret traditional Latin American sounds using modern technology, and that has really been the driving force behind Zizek. We incorporate elements of reggaeton, cumbia and Spanish hip-hop, and that’s given an identity to the club on a local level because people here identify with these sounds, and it’s also given us an identity on an international level because very few people are working with these sounds. A lot of our producers are amongst the best in the world at reinterpreting these sounds.
BB: Where did the name “Zizek” come from?
GD: Zizek was proposed by Villa Diamonte, who is one of the resident DJs and organizers. He is a philosophy student and he came in one day with this name and when I first heard it, I liked how it looked esthetically, and how it sounded phonetically, but I didn’tknow who Zizek was. He told us that he was this modern Slovenian philosopher who uses elements of pop culture to create this mash-up of modern philosophy. It kind of went hand in hand with the idea of the club. Then I started to investigate who this Zizek character was and I found that I liked him and the name stuck. Coincidentally, he’s married to an Argentine lingerie model who’s twenty years younger than him!
BB: What was the idea behind bringing Zizek to the U.S.?
GD: I read that Brent Grulke, the SXSW Creative Director, was going to be at the BAFIM (Buenos Aires Festival of International Music) last year, and we were already throwing the opening night party for the festival. I immediately thought that Zizek and SXSW would be a good fit. So I met with Brent and gave him a CD and he told me that he felt that what was going on at the moment in Buenos Aires was Zizek. So there was already some fusion there. The idea was to get our party and our sound out there, to make it more international.
To do that, I’ve had to ask all of my artists to pay their own way. I’m not able to bring a lot of the young kids who have no money, no passports and no visa on this trip. Essentially I have focused on the more veteran musicians who have either been on tour before or have passports and enough money to get to the U.S.
So honestly there is a crew of young Zizek artists from 22-28 years old that aren’t coming on this tour but who are amazing. Hopefully this will open up the door for more international gigs and I’ll be able to bring some of the other younger artists in the future.
BB: Who are some of the musicians who will be on the U.S. tour?
GD: They are all really amazing. First and foremost is Gaby Kerpel who was responsible for the music for the theatrical shows “De la Guarda” and “Fuerza Bruta” both of which have toured the world. He’s worked with Oscar-winning Argentine composer Gustavo Santaolalla (Babel, Brokeback Mountain), he had a CD put on Nonesuch Records and has a serious international career. He’s gotten together with another electronic music producer named Julian Gomez to form the duo King Coya and El Trip Selector. They work with two laptops and five controllers and effects and voices. It’s an incredible show.
Another act is Axel Krygier and the format he’s presenting is called Axel K Soundsystem which is him doing his three albums, but all re-mixed, and very danceable. His music is jazz fusion, folk, cumbia, but in this format he takes it up a notch and gets the bpm’s up to 120.
We also have musicians named Tremor, El Remolon, Frikstailers, and Oro11, who is an American DJ who lived in Buenos Aires for three years and is now back living in San Francisco.
BB: A lot of the artists that perform at Zizek are not Argentine. What would Zizek be like without the foreign artists?
GD: It wouldn’t be as spectacular or vibrant just because the whole multi-cultural element of the music and the crowd is an important aspect of the club. From mixing Baltimore Beats with cumbia to the crowd — which is often half-full with foreigners — from Ex-Pats to backpackers to culture hunters; there’s a real international energy to the party. Buenos Aires is really hot right now. So having a good club while BA is hot, it feeds our hotness. I think in the history of BA there’s ever been a club that gotten so much international attention. I mean we had a French television crew in last week filming the party!
BB: Finally, you’re bringing these South American sounds back to your home state of Texas. Are you psyched?
GD: I feel really good about it. It being SXSW and it being Austin, Texas was a huge motivating factor for me to put this thing together. I think if it was in California or Canada, it would have been cool too, but this is my homecoming. It’s me showing up as the manager of one of the coolest parties in the world, to one of the coolest festivals in the world, and I’m proud of that. It makes me happy.
For more information about Zizek, visit:
Brian Byrnes (www.brianbyrnes.com ) has lived in Buenos Aires since 2001. Brian and Austin Daze guru Russ were nearly arrested together in New Orleans in 1992 because, according to police, they were enjoying Mardi Gras “too much.” ***