Catalina Maria Johnson

International radio broadcaster, bilingual cultural journalist, music curator

“I thought I was going to be a studio guitarist or write orchestral music or film scores, but…it just kind of worked out–this kind of way of working with music fit my diverse tastes of music coming from regions around the world, whereas I had a hard time doing that as an instrumentalist,” says producer, arranger, multi-instrumentalist and composer Adam Partridge.

Known as Atropolis, Partridge is talking via skype from his home base in New York City about he came to now create a sound that electronically mashes up nueva cumbia, dubstep, moombahton, Afro-Colombian house, sampled live playing of traditional instruments and kuduro, along with a wide array of exotic global beats.

Partridge continues to explain that at when he was about 16 years old, he started collecting music from Africa, the Caribbean and Southeast Asia, “It wasn’t a decision, but more of a movement toward being influenced and enjoying different melodic rhythms and tones. Music is something that you feel, it was more of a feeling that took me here.”

That feeling has taken him to form a three-member DJ collective which includes his cousin Thor (aka Thornato) and Myk 2Melo/Dos Melo. Then, while doing a DJ residency in Brooklyn, the three met a friend from Bogotá who took them to Colombia to do DJ gigs and work with musicians as well as document the process. This was vital to them, says Partridge: “It’s really easy today to tap into a culture from a distance and maybe take something from that culture and not really know much about it, so for us it was really important to go down there and be really learn hands on, what was going on with the music.”

A continuing deep interest in the cultures from whose music they draw has now led the Cumba Mela collective to transition to becoming a label and further explore the various sounds from the world. The first release on the label is Atropolis’ sophomore album “Transitions”, which is a wonderful sampler of textured, rich music and includes a series of extraordinary guests, such as in the tune Reza por Mí, a collaboration with one of our favorite songstresses, Lido Pimienta.

They chose Cumba Mela as the name as a reference to “kumbh mela”, the largest spiritual, peaceful gathering in the world, where millions of Hindus gather to bathe in the sacred river–a most appropriate name for music that gathers people to happily dance the night away in the flow of melodies and rhythms from world-round.

Atropolis and Thor (aka Thornato), will bring their distinctive Cumba Mela grooves to the Township on Friday at 10PM. Dos Santos Anti-Beat Orchestra will also perform.

Catalina explores nuestra cultura via music on Beat Latino every week. Visit Facebook,  subscribe via Itunes or download the podcast on the archives.