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On The Road With Global Ghetto Revolutionaries—Buraka Som Sistema

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Photo by Simon Frederik

A favorite over here at Magnetic offices, Buraka Som Sistema will kick off a string of dates tomorrow in Portugal that will have them bouncing around Europe and ultimately end up in the US in August for Hard Summer festival in Los Angeles. If you haven’t heard the remix package for “Tira o Pé” check it out here. Buy the original here.

The tune has been inspiring dancefloor riots ever since their sophmore album dropped late last year. It’s stripped-down, minimalistic and heavy at the same time and is sure to cause a storm on the dancefloor. We tossed the band a few questions, enjoy...

How much of your set changes from gig to gig?

We try to keep it simple and fair to everyone. We pretty much do the same set everywhere unless we have a specific song which we feel it doesn't make sense.

Do you have any pre-gig routines or green room rituals?

We open up a magic/cosmic portal, which provides us with the necessary awesomeness to perform on stage... I can't tell you how though.

How would you describe your sound to a deaf person?

It wouldn't be necessary. The hearing impaired can dance very well when they feel the bass coming in.

What’s on your Rider?

For big venues we usually take an electronic drum set (Roland TD20), a Soundcard and DJ mixer (Allen&Heath Xone 4D Soundcard), a small bag pack size keyboard (Novation Xio25), we usually order a Yamaha 9000 drum set plus 2 Helicon VoiceLive.

Besides all of the gear to make the show work you can find some Humus, some fruits, a bottle of pure Vodka, wine for the older people freezing even when it’s 30º sun, some milk (I don’t even know why this is in the raider), 4 packs of the best confettis in town and 3 water guns just in case some one is on fire.

Do you have a favorite airline?

Virgin Airways is in our top. Internet on board and some other features makes the whole travel process a lot easier. It's a shame they don’t have it for international flights from Portugal.

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First class or coach?

First class always, BUT we travel most of the times in coach.

Travel probably takes up more of your time than it does the common man. Do you have any tales of extreme excitement or extreme boredom that the average person might enjoy reading?

During our 2009 European summer festival tour, Kalaf lost his passport. Being that he is from Angola, there was no other way to get another passport except traveling to Luanda. That solution, besides being expensive, would lead to the cancellation of some important gigs. So we decided to take a risk and Kalaf traveled by bus and train while the rest of us flew. It took him 3 days to get to Sweden. According to him, it was the longest trip he ever took to get to a gig. He went from Lisbon to Paris (via Spain) by bus and took a train to Denmark through Germany. Everything went fine, but before the last concert, in Oslo, Kalaf was stopped by the police at the border between Sweden and Norway and taken in to custody. This was a weekend which meant sleep in prison until being presented before a judge. When he was allowed to make his only phone call the only number he knew by heart was João's (J-WOW). “João, I'm in jail, get me out of here,” he said very slowly in English.

João immediately called the festival organization which had an ultra efficient lawyer who, in 5-hours, not only got Kalaf out of jail in time to be on stage but also arranged a special permission to embark on the flight back to Lisbon with the rest of the band. (It was probably the best concert we had on that 2009 tour.)

What is the most colorful/memorable incident you have involving a fan or fan relations?

Our last show in Bogota was fun—not only the audience was on fire we had a girl on the front row that decide to bless us with a view of her topless—even though we enjoyed it we decided that such happenings had to be shared with everyone that attended the concert. She wasn't shy, so when she got up on stage we had the decency to cover her nipples with Buraka stickers and allow the brave girl to do her thing.

What items do you always take with you on the road?

We always take our computers—we are absolutely addicted to Internet. First thing we usually ask when we get to our destination is if there's Wi-Fi available. It's kinda boring to be honest but we love to spend time on YouTube and Soundcloud checking out some comedy and fresh music.

How, if at all, is being on the road conducive to your creative process?

One of the good things of being on the road is the fact that he have the chance to meet people we admire and those encounters sometimes happen to be decisive to find future collaborators. We basically like to be challenged by other artists and we look for simple and organic collaborations with people that can help us to find that spark to create some great music.

Do you work on music while touring?

Yes we do! Picasso has this quote that we find interesting “Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working” so every minute is precious and inspiration doesn't choose space or time—we got be ready for it.

Do you have an adventurous palette? What the craziest thing you’ve eaten on the road?

We love food even though we never really got the chance to experience that much exotic and strange food from places such as China or South America. We make sure we taste some local food from the places we visit. Mexico for all the greasy tacos and burritos, Brazil for the Rodizio—we all agree that Brazilian meat is a gift from heaven.

Catch Buraka Som Sistema on tour:

May 08 Queima das Fitas de Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal
May 11 Semana Académica de Faro, Faro, Portugal
May 12 Queima das Fitas do Porto, Porto, Portugal
May 19 Territorios, Sevilla, Spain
Jun 02 Burn Selector Festival, Krakow, Poland
Jun 10 Parklife, Manchester, United Kingdom
Jun 28, Open Air St. Gallen, St. Gallen, Switzerland
Jul 13, Optimus Alive, Oeiras, Portugal
Jul 14 Melt Festival, Berlin, Germany
Aug 03 Hard Summer, Los Angeles, CA
Aug 04 HARD TORONTO, Toronto, Canada
Aug 18 Pukkelpop Festival, Hasselt, Belgium

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