Pioneer Giju John & his Latin-Indian fusion music

 

Fusion music has evolved over the past few decades, bringing the characteristic elements of different regional music styles together in a harmonic way. This has also led to the formation of new music styles all together – Latin-Jazz, Mambo, Cha-cha-cha etc. There are numerous fusion styles in the global music scene now, but you may not have heard much about Latin-Indian fusion. And chances are also less that you are familiar with singer-songwriter named Giju John (unless you were in the competitive Salsa scene in Americas during the late 2000s).

SVL Amigo, Giju John, is one of the pioneers in the Latin-Indian fusion who debuted in the world music stage in 2007 with the first ever Indian-Salsa track. And since then he has continued to push this genre, through his work as an independent artist. There are other musicians who have produced notable music in the Latin-Indian style – primarily focusing on the Spanish guitar and Tabla tones – but what makes Giju’s work different from the rest is that he has taken the popular Latin dance-music genres – Salsa, Cha-cha-cha, Bachata – and created a unique style that blends in specific Indian elements while maintaining the essence of the original.
His debut album, released in 2007, ‘Rang Rangeeli Yeh Duniya’ (This Vibrant world) featured the first Indian-Salsa track which highlighted this creative balance, along with a music video that showcased an impressive and befitting Salsa choreography. Since then he has produced several tracks in his distinctive take on the Latin-Indian fusion genre and now for his latest work, he has chosen one of the most popular Latin music styles currently out there – Bachata. By bringing in Santur – an Indian string instrument – in place of the traditional lead guitar, along with a singing style influenced by his Indian classical training, Giju is introducing a uniquely soulful style called ‘Bachata Indu’.

For this album, Giju has teamed up with Grammy winning producer and director of the renowned Pacific Mambo Orchestra, Christian Tumalan. Together they have created a beautiful balance that at once brings out the romantic and sensual feel of Bachata while also highlights Santur fitting perfectly into its simple yet wholesome orchestration. Bachata Indu is also Giju’s first all-Spanish work, with plenty of guidance and help from Christian on the lyrics and diction. The album features three original tracks that have a dreamy-romantic and upbeat feel. The listeners would be pleasantly surprised to hear some non-traditional tones layered in the orchestration.

Originally from a small state in India called Kerala and growing up there till he was 23, Giju had gotten training in Indian Classical music and dance at a very young age. He used to perform in music bands during his school-college days, something which he pursued after he migrated to US 19 years ago for Graduate studies. It was in 2000, after he moved to Silicon Valley in California, that he got introduced to Latin music – in the form of Salsa. He happened to walk into local Salsa club randomly on a Friday night and it was pretty much love-at-first-sight for him. He started taking Salsa lessons the very next week and soon enough joined Salsamania Dance company, a newly formed dance company in 2000 which went on to become one of the top-rated Salsa teams in the world. Giju pursued Salsa professionally for over a decade as a dancer, instructor and choreographer with Salsamania and his own company, Beyond Dreamz Entertainment. It was during this time the idea of ‘Latin-Indian’ fusion dawned on him. Based on his exposure and expertise in the Indian and the Latin music/dance styles, he wanted to introduce specific Indian elements into the Latin dance-music styles without diluting its true essence. Purists may have a different opinion on it, but his work has resonated with thousands of music enthusiasts around the world.

About his latest work Bachata Indu, Giju says “As an enthusiast of Indian and Latin music styles, my intention with this fusion genre was to celebrate the differences in these two rich and vibrant cultures and create a sound that’s unique and soulful. I believe, this is the true essence of fusion music that transcends language barriers”. SVL got a pre-release copy of Bachata Indu, and after listening to the tracks, we are absolutely confident that these tracks can definitely bring the Latin-Indian genre, as well this gifted artist, into the mainstream.

 

‘Bachata Indu’ is releasing on June 8th. You can order it HERE.

You can check out some of Giju’s Latin-Indian fusion tracks here:

First Indian Salsa

First Indian Cha-cha-cha

First Indian Bachata

 

Giju’s official website is www.gijujohn.com and his FB music page is https://www.facebook.com/GIJU-133229957073/ .

Some of the artists that Giju is inspired by includes Tito Puente, A R Rahman, Aventura, Alfredo de la Fé and Prince Royce.

 

Manuel Romero: El orgullo de ser Latino

Manuel Romero photos courtesy of Keepsake Photography Š

Manuel Romero singer, song writer, and guitarist expresses his Orgullo through his music and for his Latino roots and for Silicon Valley. He performs for local sports teams, the President of Mexico, as well a having performed for the Pope John Paul II in Mexico City.

Romero made his first recording at age nine. He adds, “Ever since I was just two years old … (his family) they have videos of me singing at the house with him (my father) playing at the house.”

Interview with Manuel Romero by Alex Ontiveros on traditional mariachi musical talent, vision, and proud heritage.


Written by Eydie Mendoza | Videos by Jose Posadas