Ecuadorian DJ and producer Nicola Cruz brings the sound of the Andes to the electronic dance music scene. Literally.
Besides using traditional Andean instruments, such as zampoña and quena flutes, Cruz, 28, records the sounds of running rivers, whistling birds and other things he hears in the mountains, and incorporates them in his music. Cruz says he sees the mountains take form when people dance to his music in bars and clubs.
"I like to have this pre-image in my head to play music. I picture something, a lake, and then I try to translate that to music," Cruz says from his home in Quito. "It's interesting to see how it works the other way around, when you play it and it re-creates this space, wherever you're playing. I see it reflected in the place."
Cruz will perform his electronic-folk music for the first time in Miami this Friday, when he'll play 1306 Event Space and Bar, formerly known as the White Room. The performance is the first of his U.S. tour, which also includes stops in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle and Portland. He'll perform songs from his 2015 debut album, "Prender el Alma," which in Spanish means "Awaken the Soul."
"I like taking my music to regions that it has never been before," Cruz says. "Not just to say it's from Ecuador, but to create a positive message through the music."
Growing up in the capital of Ecuador, Cruz was often exposed to traditional folk music. So he says fusing it with electronic dance music came naturally.
"You hear this music in the streets, and on the radio. In music school, you get in touch with these instruments," he says. "I wasn't planning the next hit in fusion music. I just feel very attracted to it. I love the mystic feeling it has."
Cruz says composing this album was a personal exploration of his cultural roots. He began his music career as a percussionist, and later studied music production and engineering.
"I needed to tell myself to get in touch with this again," he says. "In music, it's really nice to do this investigation, where you search for these traditions. It's a way of recognizing oneself."
Nicola Cruz will perform near midnight Friday, July 29, at 1306 Event Space and Bar, 1306 N. Miami Ave., in Miami Admission is free with registration and arrival before midnight. Tickets cost $16.90 in advance at ResidentAdvisor.net. Admission is $20 at the door. For more information, go to Eventbrite.com.