Enchufada is not a “typical” electronic music label. By typical, I mean largely typified by genres most of the dance music population has not only just heard of, but that largely define what dance music is – house, techno, drum and bass, dubstep, etc. Even EDM could and would fall under the umbrella of what one might expect when examining a random contemporary electronic music label. However, in the case of Enchufada, these typical classifications of today’s dance music couldn’t be further away from the label’s diverse discography.

Enchufada began in 2006 as a vehicle for Portuguese group Buraka Som Sistema to release its music. The group had a very distinct sound, one they didn’t want to water down just to adapt to the confines of the day’s popular labels. Based in Portugal, Buraka has crafted a sound based on the beats and rhythms of artists in the large ex-pat population of Angolans living in Lisbon. Many classify Buraka’s sound as kudoro, a blend of popular Caribbean music genres, zouk and soca with African percussion, or at least an updated variation of the Angolan kudoro that electrified any dancefloor it touched in the 80s.

Since then, largely under the control of Buraka Som Sistema’s Branko and his colleague Rastronaut, Enchufada has evolved to include many types of niche dance music from around the world. Searching through the sonic goodies on Enchufada, a person will find treasures such as zouk bass, baile funk, kizomba, kwaito, kuduro and other lesser-known genres of hard hitting floor crushers.

“Enchufada is actually a Spanish word,” says Enchufada A&R and label manager João Silva (aka Rastronaut) in a recent chat. “It means to be plugged in, as in plugged into an electrical outlet, or even knowing the right people.”

Plugged in is an accurate metaphor for what Enchufada encompasses, and Rastronaut and Branko rely heavily on platforms such as SoundCloud to stay “plugged in” to outlying musical movements and communities. In fact, Rastronaut largely credits the internet as a crucial part of the inner workings of the group. “I don’t think it could [exist], especially since we connect with such different music scenes that are so spread out across the globe,” he says when asked about the importance of the internet on the day-to-day for Enchufada. “The immediacy and proximity that the internet allows is definitely a fundamental tool for us, and not only in connecting with the artists themselves. On any given day we can be contacting a distributor in New York, or a PR firm based in London, or a mastering studio in Toronto, while everyone is working on a compilation featuring producers from Accra, Luanda, Lima, São Paulo, Johannesburg, for example. I can’t imagine this scenario without the internet,” he finishes.

Despite being globally influenced, Rastronaut does not agree with Enchufada being labelled as “world music”. In his mind, world music is a. term created for genres of music that fall outside the norm, because people need a way to brand sounds they don’t necessarily understand. “The label was initially founded to provide an editorial platform for Buraka Som Sistema, and has since expanded to include a multitude of artists who share a similar vision of electronic dance music. One which sees traditional rhythms and cultural heritage as sources from which to enrich and reinvent modern club music from within,” he explains. “I wouldn’t necessarily agree with the world music label though, as that’s mostly used by generic record shops as a way to lump together everything that isn’t standard Western pop or rock.”

Rastronaut stresses the importance of understanding the cultural heritage and traditions behind music, not just in regards to Enchufada, but also in a more general way. With the recognition of cultural appropriation as a major issue, this lesson could go a long way in dance music communities.

“You can be inspired by anything from anywhere, but you need to understand where it’s coming from, and that everything is a response to a specific environment, filtered through a specific culture and way of understanding the world. I think it’s essential to understand this in everything you do, and music is no exception.”

Editor’s Note: Branko and Rastronaut are currently working on a TV show for Portugal’s national television. They have been exploring music communities all over the world, meeting new artists and eating the local cuisine. Stay tuned to Enchufada social media spaces to find out how and when we can see it in North America.

By: Kayla Graham

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