Surrounded by sea, rivers, the Andes and the Amazonia, and consisting of dozens of indigenous groups who make their own music, others who still carry their ancestors’ spirituality and Inca and African instrumentalists, Ecuador is a small country shaping musicians with all of this as their background. There has been an artistic boom there for some time now in which artists are developing their music through the influence of ancestral Ecuadorian rhythms.

Guided by percussions and with a lot of Afro influence, Nicolá Cruz’s sound is quite ritualistic, though always with an electronic base. His music and what he tells through it is some sort of mysticism landscapes, as he’s always trying to place the listeners in a mysterious and mystical scenario.

Nicolá

Beyond his roots and where he comes from, what he does is linked to reason, “living where I do and growing up there, you’re very exposed to these sonorities, to these themes of Andean cosmology, of tradition. It’s a personal curiosity to dig a little deeper and give my own interpretation to certain traditions or customs of the Ecuadorian people and South America."

Nicolá has a natural curiosity about world music, not just the Ecuadorian. To see how the rest of the cultures manage to express these ideas of ritual or mysticism in their music is what inspires him. “You can be a music nerd and obsess over what kind of rhythm or what kind of instrumentation they use, analyze a bit at a harmonic level or also understand a little more about what topics they talk about, what they approach”.

Nicolá

This curiosity also goes into his DJ sets that range from cumbia classics to musical rarities from all over the world that just fit seamlessly. Along with his work as a composer, Nicolá has always been a musical selector, that “in a way is an audiophile that’s listening to music all the time and is always searching for weird and interesting stuff to show”. This is why he has his live shows apart from his DJ sets, “they both let me present a different part of me. It’s amazing to find a relation between something very occidental with something very latin and that maybe what bound these two things together are rhythm and harmony.”

Prender El Alma, Nicolá’s debut album, was released in 2015 and since then he hasn’t stopped releasing EPs and collaborations. His new album is already on the works and he describes it as an evolution and a personal musical maturity, a way of understanding a bit more about how to keep composing his music but on a deeper sense and heavily based in the musical, harmonic and melodic. He says it also touches several personal topics that he’s been experiencing lately like heartbreak and fraternity to name a few things.

Nicolá

Nicolá’s music is pretty visual, his live presentations and his videos are charged with fantastic imagery, “when you make music it’s not just about the sound, it’s also about that visual synesthesia of the image that your own music creates and that also gives you ideas of how you visualize your album or your concept or your song, they’re things that go hand in hand. And that I’ve learned in the process of making the second album. Since the beginning, I was already thinking about visual material and what course it could take. It’s not very clear yet but I have it very present."

Nicolá

Other Ecuadorian artists from other disciplines similar to Nicolá’s work you can check out are, Teodoro Monsalve, who is a painter, Andrés Cornejo and Felipe Maqui, who are both filmmakers and Camilo Coba who made the video for his song Colibria.

Nicolá Cruz will be playing live in London at Village Underground on June 9th.