To coincide with our screenings of Gilles Peterson presents: Havana Club Rumba Sessions: La Clave, a feature-length documentary by Charlie Inman which sees him explore the roots of rumba, we asked you to send us your questions for the DJ. Here, he responds about his time in Cuba, his desert island rumba track and what he's hoping to do next.
Did working on this project change your perception of Cuban culture and history?
I have been going to Cuba for seven years now - it has purely been building up towards the time that I could create and be part of pouring light on the complex subject of rumba. I couldn't have done that seven years ago; it has taken that long to build up enough knowledge to be involved.
How does rumba fit in with what you do as a DJ?
The thing about rumba is that it is the essence of ‘searching for the perfect beat’. It is so complex rhythmically; it is such a challenge for anyone to try and transcribe it from its original, to change it.
"I am always trying to play people into areas that are out of the ordinary."
That was the big test with this project - that and giving stems to people. To play a song in 6/8 (beat) outside of the straight 4/4 is always a challenge. As a DJ, I always enjoy pulling this off. I am always trying to play people into areas that are out of the ordinary. To pull off a song that isn’t a straight 4/4 is the ultimate jackpot!
Whats your desert island rumba track and why?
Jerry Gonzales Evidence because it was the first rumba influence track on the dance floor and still resonates well for me today.
Were there any key figures you were keen to interview/work with for this project but weren't able to?
Rumberas! The women. The area that we didn't get to explore was the female perspective on rumba, the female rumberas. That was what was lacking.
"The area that we didn't get to explore was the female perspective on rumba."
Your recent multimedia projects have explored Cuba and Brazil, where's next?
Haiti! Sega music from the Réunion Island, music from Guadalupe, Martinique. Another place I am keen to explore is Indonesia. ■
Gilles Peterson presents: Havana Club Rumba Sessions: La Clave runs from 30 January.