COMPASS CAMILO LARA & TOY SELECTAH
AWARD-WINNING MEXICAN PRODUCERS CAMILO LARA (MEXICAN INSTITUTE OF SOUND) AND TOY SELECTAH BRIDGE FRIENDSHIP AND MUSIC FOR THEIR NEW PROJECT, COMPASS, COLLABORATING WITH OVER 90 ARTISTS FROM ACROSS THE WORLD
Producers Toy Selectah and Camilo Lara have traveled the globe in the name of music. They have played in front of thousands of fans at important festivals and have performed on some of the world’s most prominent stages. These two DJs who produce, write and make music utilizing creative and high-energy beats with sharp melodic centerpieces, have been colleagues and friends for years. They’ve always known that someday they would work together on a project of a bigger scale. Then one night the musical yarn inside Toy’s head—and laptop—began to spin.
Known for his pioneering work as a maestro of the hip hop en español movement, Toy has been traveling the world for the last 15 years DJing, producing and pioneering the New Cumbia and Global Bass phenomena. Toy sent Camilo a series of intricate beats he was saving for something special. Upon hearing the thumps and the bumps of those fast-moving and hypnotic rhythms, Camilo called Toy to say he was ready to begin work. In that moment, a new album concept was born out of their friendship and commitment to uniting the masses through music. They called it COMPASS, a name that refers to both the magnetized instrument and a shortened word for compadres or godfathers, and it would take two years of their lives in between gigs, tours and other projects to come to fruition.
The result is MEXICAN INSTITUTE OF SOUND + TOY SELECTAH PRESENT: COMPASS.
“Toy and I had worked on Los Angeles Azules project,” says Camilo. “I told Toy that we should do an album of collaborations with people from around the world and the project grew from that. Before we knew it, we had traveled to 9 cities and worked with about 90 artists.”
The upcoming release features a 13-track set introducing a global pool of artists who signed on for the high-energy project and features genres such as reggae, punk, dance hall and electronica, and other musical styles.
The producing duo traveled to US, England, Brazil, Jamaica and Mexico. They also made side trips to places such as China and Japan, reuniting with artists, colleagues and friends they met through the years. In each city they collaborated musically by including these musicians in the process of creating songs for COMPASS.
“In some ways this project felt old school meets new school,” Toy says. “Artists came together in the studio like a community and understood that the possibilities were endless and that the project was driven by the creative vision of making good music. We even began getting calls from actor friends like Gael Garcia Bernal and others who don’t typically record music, asking to be part of the album. These reactions made everything much more exciting.”
To make the COMPASS journey a reality, RED BULL signed on, lending their studios in various countries and filming many of the sessions. The innovative and independent label Six Degrees Records, known for representing recording artists from around the world, picked up the project.
Toy and Camilo called on a global pool of collaborators and friends to create the super-charged album that mixes a variety of musical elements to create a project with global appeal and a Latin edge. More than 90 artists participated, legendary Jamaican singer/songwriter, Toots Hibbert (Toots & the Maytals), MC Lyte, Cornelius, Eugene Hütz (Gogol Bordello) , Rob Birch (Stereo MCs), Kool A.D. (Das Racist), Emicida, Maluca, Kelli Ali, Tiombe Lockhart, Nina Sky, Tanto Blacks, Crystal Fighters, Bonde do Role, Mercurias, Bruno Morais, El Dusty, Gael Garcia Bernal and others.
“It was incredible to see 90 artists coming to the table so wanting to collaborate, fulfilling the mission of this project to bring artists together in the name of great music” says music veteran Colin Finkelstein, CEO at YEBO Music, who represents Camilo and managed the album. “The project has a lot of Toy and Camilo in it, but it’s also very contemporary and a lot of people showed up to be part of this because of these two creative and thoughtful minds who have several decades of impressive work between them.”
For the COMPASS project, both Toy and Camilo worked together creating the beats and the music. Once they had songs, the two instinctively knew which artists would gravitate towards certain tracks. Says Camilo, “We made music we liked very much and quickly figured out what worked with certain artists, who also had say and input in the songs.”
Most songs, says Camilo, have multiple artists from different parts of the world each contributing to a different part of the track. The bilingual and cumbia-inspired song “Explotar” (Explore), for example, features Rob Birch (from the UK’s Stereo MCs), Kool A.D. (from NYC’s Das Rascist), Emicida (Brazil) and Maluca (from the Dominican Republic). Once in the studio, each artist had the freedom to help the song evolve into a unique experience that was heartfelt and genuine at each recording.
“This project is about democratization on the dance floor,” Camilo says. “This album intends to show that rock, electronica and dance music, among other styles, can co-exist. This is part of a community being part of this musical experience.”
Toy has a unique perspective about the project as a way of unifying artists from a variety of backgrounds.
“This album is a little like good tequila,” says Toy. “Tequilas come from specific regions and you can taste the difference. Music is similar in that all these artists represent where they come from and their own life experience.”
Camilo, who lives in Mexico City and who is best known for his work as a DJ, producer and for his electronic music project known as Mexican Institute of Sound (MIS) and his Mexrrissey Mexico Goes Morrissey project, most recently produced the Los Angeles Azules album that included the iconic band’s greatest hits. “Como Te Voy a Olvidar,” which was nominated for a Grammy, went #1 and spent 79 weeks on the charts in Mexico.
Toy Selectah, well known as commander of forward thinking mixing of traditional Latin music and modern beats, is Monterrey’s pride and joy, particularly for his work in Urban Music through Control Machete, Celso Piña, 3BallMTY and Major Lazer which pioneered the hybrid sounds mixing Mexican soundscapes with modern touch. Toy is also deeply involved with Diplo’s Mad Decent label, and he produced the Los Angeles Azules’ album along with Camilo.
COMPASS, which is scheduled for wide release in August 2016, was produced by Camilo and Toy and mixed by Toy and Frank “El Medico” Rodriguez, who also recorded and mastered the album.
Already Toy and Camilo are suggesting that there may be a COMPASS VOL. 2, since there is a deep well of material that can support another project. “That’s always a possibility, but first we want to show the world what this project is about and that’s a part of the process we look forward to seeing evolve.”