If the main sample of "La Chusa" sounds familiar, it's because it comes from the classic Colombian cumbia "La cumbia de la cordillera" by Los Hermanos Tuirán. This track has been endlessly chopped and adapted by sound systems in Colombia and global bass DJs everywhere, but El Dusty has been able to clear it for official use for his single, thanks to a deal he has in place with Discos Fuentes, the Medellín label that holds the rights to the catalogue of many Colombian tropical artists from the 1960s and today.
El Dusty, who is nominated for a Latin GRAMMY in the Best Urban Fusion/Performance category for the track "Cumbia Anthem" feat Happy Colors, is excited to attend the ceremony in Las Vegas on November 17. It will be the first time for Dusty attending as a nominee. "We always go to play the after parties, we never really go to the show," hes says, promising an epic after party for this year's ceremony as well. We spoke to him about the track premiere, his nomination and his Corpus Christi pride.
Uforia Music: What does the title of the 'La Chusa' come from?
El Dusty: It comes from a south Texas Chicano folk story about this owl [lechuza means owl in some Spanish-speaking countries] with the face of an old lady that stands on top of your house and scares kids into acting good. When I was a kid I was petrified of it! The sample on this track comes from a Discos Fuentes song and the lyrics are about a bird standing on a mountain. The song doesn't really have anything to do with it, but it reminded me of that old tale.
The chorus of 'Cumbia de la cordillera' by Hermanos Tuirán goes "En la cordillera arriba se oya un pájaro cantor."
Have you worked with Camilo and Toy before?
El Dusty: I got to participate in two songs of their project Compass. One is with [Brazil's] Bonde do Role and we recorded it in Venice Beach. Toy and I go way back to the MySpace years. I had a cumbia band called El Sancho and Toy just reached out to me, he just does that. He’s always been there, helping me like a mentor. He’s a really good friend.
As for Camilo, a few years ago I had put out an album called "Soy yo." The cover had a cartoon version of me. I was just giving it away at SXSW to all the DJs. One time Camilo was playing one of my songs at South Padre and when I introduced myself he goes "OMG you’re this guy!" pointing at the cover.
How does it feel to be a Latin GRAMMY nominated artist?
El Dusty: It’s really humbling, one of the biggest things that have ever happened in my career. Last year me and Happy were hanging out at a bar where everybody goes after the show saying to ourselves, "We’re here at the loser bar, bro." After the nomination, he texted me "yo, remember last year?" We were laughing. We always go to Latin GRAMMY to play the parties and this year we're doing a tropical bass party called Tropicoso. Stay tuned for details.
As someone who started as a rap producer in Corpus Christi, what message do you want people who watch Latin GRAMMY to know?
El Dusty: I just want to put out weird music. For the GRAMMYs to nominate a cumbia twerk beat, a DJ track...it’s really cool that they’re opening up to these types of artists. "Cumbia Anthem" has real instruments in it, live guitar, live bass, a little bit of norteño drums, and EDM/house beats. Tejano was formed by cumbia influences plus the drum machines of New Wave and 80s electronic music. Then Selena came around, and having electronic instruments with live bands. I like that sound, it has a lot of influence on me.