To say that the The Latin Project is
a duo is like saying wine is made of grapes...
you have the facts right, but are missing
the subtlties that make it more than juice.
Jez Colin and Matt Cooper are the multi-instrumentalist,
songwriters and producers that provide
the English ingredients and cutting-edge
electronic skills. Fermented with collaborators
such as Rio-based instrumentalist and
vocalist Junnor Homrick and Brazilian
singer Katia Moraes, the result is the
sultry Latin meets Western infused essence
that is The Latin Project.
here to watch our Latin Project video
This collaboration would grow into "Neuva
Musica," their debut album that like
Jazzanova and Masters At Work, fuses underground
dance music with organic components like
live instruments and analogue vocals.
The first single, "En Feugo"
was a UK garage-inspired flamenco styled
number released with such success that
motivated Jez and Matt to undertake three
years of travelling between Los Angeles,
London and Rio to complete their album.
Our first taste of The Latin Project
was on the Electric Monkey boat party
in Miami earlier this year. Their live
performance is intoxicating. Joined by
performers exploding with enthusiasm,
the show rocked the boat from one end
of the bay to the other, and we were hooked.
Back in LA, we caught them again in a
more mundane locale, but were still entranced
with their electric energy. (See photos.)
We jumped at the chance for an interview!
-- feature by Jennifer Warner
Latin house legend, Little
Louie Vega (Masters At Work) has just
completed two remixes of the lead single,
"Lei Lo Lai," which will be
available in mid-July. With its hard-as-nails
beat and strumming guitar work, "Lei
Lo Lai" exemplifies the group's trademark
fusion of Latin instrumentation, sultry
vocals and infectious grooves. States
Vega: "Igniting the passion of traditional
Latin and contemporary music, this project
takes it to another level!"
TO LEI LO LAI MP3 HERE
Inspired by a genre that is dominated
by beat and club aesthetics, but lacking
in musical sophistication, English natives
Jez Colin and Matt Cooper pooled their
wealth of musical expertise to start The
Latin Project. "We wanted to blend some
of our favorite established Latin musicians
with the most up-to-date electronic production,"
says Jez. "WeÕve always been fans of Latin
music," adds Matt. "Not just restricted
to the dance floor, but crossing over
to something you can listen to at home
as well as dance to: a contemporary record
with songs and performances. We tried
to do something with all those elements."
Meeting in 1996, Jez and Matt started working on The Latin Project in 1998. Both co-produced and wrote material for the project, with Matt adding keyboards and drums. A multi-talented musician, producer, writer, remixer and programmer, Jez co-founded in 1993 the groundbreaking acid jazz group The Solsonics for whom he played bass. In 1995, the Solsonics hit the road as a supporting act on the Queen Latifah tour with the Fugees, thus giving Jez the opportunity to hone his live performance skills and showcase his talents to a broader audience. After they disbanded in 1997, Jez relocated to Los Angeles and turned his attentions studio-ward. Among his credits are remixes for Maxwell, Sade, Stevie Wonder, Jo‘l and Bjork, as well as programming on the current project for William Orbit (of MadonnaÕs Ray Of Light fame).
Living in London, Matt has been working under the guise of Outside, producing five albums on UK label Dorado Records. His standout single "To Forgive But Not Forget"--affectionately known as "the jungle track with the mad violin," a mini-anthem of sorts--has been featured on numerous compilations. Additionally, he has worked on all D*Note albums, co-produced and written for forward-thinking jazz greats Incognito on their new album, which also boasts India Arie, Paul Weller and Terry Callier. Matt recently completed a Southeast Asian tour with Incognito and a worldwide trek with David Sylvian.
The collaboration that grew into Nueva Musica began initially with Brazilian multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Junno Homrich (whose credits include the Emerald Forest soundtrack) and another Brazilian singer, Katia Moraes, of the band Sambaguru. The first Latin Project single "En Fuego"--a UK garage inspired flamenco styled number, part Basement Jaxx, part Gypsy Kings, with a remix from Nickodemus and Osiris--was released on Giant Step Records summer of 2001 to enthusiastic response. Encouraged by the interest "En Fuego" had created, Jez and Matt began pursuing the idea of a full-length Latin Project album. Over three years of international travel between Los Angeles, London and Rio resulted in a deeply personal expression of The Latin ProjectÕs attempt to explore the limits of Latin-based music.
From his previous endeavors, Jez feels he has brought "a true sense of how to incorporate programmed and computer-based music with live musicianship" to The Latin Project. From fiery percussion, keyboard solos, flavorful guitars, joyful trumpets to sub-bass and hard-as-nails beats, these ingredients create the structure for a myriad of styles that incorporate everything from nu-jazz to broken beat, downtempo, dub and ambient moods, all sifted through a Latin-inspired filter. "Nueva Musica surpassed what we had originally set out to do," says Jez. "Initially we had one or two collaborators. We ended up working with a more eclectic and wider base of talent that we ever thought possible. It evolved into something that was more worldly than we had planned, much to the benefit of the project."
Jez and Matt selected collaborators for Nueva Musica carefully and thoughtfully; among these are Freddie Crespo, erstwhile percussionist and vocalist for Tito Puente, on "Lei Lo Lai," which also features Robbie NevilÕs inimitable guitar touch. Marc Antione, a master of the Flamenco guitar, plays on "En Fuego." Jo‘l Virgel, a West Indian via Paris vocalist/percussionist sings on "Universal" and "Brazilian Love Affair," the latter a cover of a 1980 George Duke tune, which features him and Katia in improvisational mode. Jo‘l and Katia reunite again on songs "Clouds," a journey from a rainforest to the Carnival and "Sonhando" (translated to "dreaming" in Portuguese). Peruvian singer Violetta VillacortaÕs haunting vocals permeate "Estoy," bolstered by the dub-heavy effects of Andreas Allen. Additionally, Terence Trent DÕArby, under the guise of Sananda (Jez mixed and did production for his current album, Wildcard), collaborated in the writing of the track "Windows," a dance cut featuring a piano montuno. Nueva Musica ends on the spiritual high of "Rio Negro," a voyage of discovery down the "Black River."
"ItÕs probably better now than at conception," states Matt. "We werenÕt taking it quite so seriously then--there was just tracks that came together. Now we can say we did a record and weÕre pretty pleased with it."