Los Angeles’ global bass crew takes over SoCal's biggest free stage
(Los Angeles) Usually, a Los Angeles club or dance night has a specific sound or theme – like cumbia, hip-hop, salsa, house, reggaeton, or dancehall. Such is not quite the case for Subsuelo, a group of artists who describes themselves as a Global Bass Crew and bring a truly eclectic mix of DJs, live music, and wild visuals to their audiences. What started ten years ago as a house party has become a movement – one that’s being celebrated at Grand Performances, with guest appearances from Reyna Tropical, Cumbiatón, Late Night Laggers, Los Rakas, and more.
Subsuelo was born back in 2011 as a Boyle Heights house party thrown by a collective of students whose musical taste merged ultra-modern trends with the old-school sounds their parents and grandparents loved. “We wanted to play everything at once,” co-founder Canyon Cody recounts. “We wanted to have DJs performing high energy, electronic dance music, but then also have traditional acoustic flamenco performances. Usually, at bars, they want you to play ONE thing.”
Unable to find a commercial setting that fit their diverse tastes, the Subsuelo crew launched their own party… but trying to describe their unique sound presented a challenge! “There's a bit of a catch-22 there,” chuckles Cody, “because by definition, we wanted Subsuelo to be something that you couldn't define. We play music from the ‘80s and the ‘50s, all on the same night. In July, we did a Desi, Indian/Panamanian dancehall crossover where we had performers representing traditional Indian music and Caribbean music. Both of them played next to each other, and everyone was just on the dance floor, feeling the beat.
“Usually when you're trying to promote something on a commercial level, you need a quick blurb,” Cody adds, “and our quick blurb is: ‘Come and you'll feel it.’”
A decade later, Subsuelo is giving locals those feels via their eastside Sunday residency at Caña Rum Bar, from 3 p.m. – 9 p.m.. “We are packed to the gills every single Sunday, no matter what,” says Cody. “We started at about a couple hundred people with our old house parties and this space is a very similar size and layout. About five years ago, we started doing parties that were closer to a thousand people, but we found that we actually enjoyed doing these smaller, regular parties more.”
That’s because Subsuelo – which means underground in Spanish, but actually got its moniker from the way the subwoofer seems to swell when hit by bass – is about more than just the music. “It's about the people coming together to celebrate the music,” explains Cody. “It’s important for us to be able to provide a space for the community to come together where everybody feels invited, welcomed, and represented. Co-founder Farah Sosa’s pictures [featured throughout this story] capture the energy, joy, and connectedness of our events.
“The thing that I'm most proud about is that as our team has grown, we've integrated all these different elements into Subsuelo,” he continues. “Being in a band is really hard, with 3 or 4 people. We're 10 different people, all doing different things with different priorities and interests, staying together as a family. And I’m thrilled we have a community that trusts us enough that we can be more and more ambitious with what we put together.”
As Subsuelo has built a home in Los Angeles, it has also gotten to take its party on the road and help pioneer a national community. “This scene didn't really exist 15 years ago,” Cody says. “Now we’re bringing in global bass artists from New York, Texas, and Portland who had a major influence on us and who have helped us grow. It was everyone's individual efforts and different towns building up little parties, just like ours, that turned this into a circuit where now you can go tour. ”
In bringing their 10th anniversary to Grand Performances on Saturday, September 4, 2021, Subsuelo is excited to play to a multi-generational audience. “We pride ourselves on doing intergenerational music, so being able to invite our grandparents and our friends with little kids to come celebrate together is something I'm really looking forward to,” Cody says. “There’s going to be music from around the world – primarily centered around tropical music, Latin music, African music. There's going to be live performances, DJs, dance performances, and just a whole circus of rhythm.”
Grand Performances is a free, all-ages outdoor venue that has been bringing high-quality music, dance, theater, and more to Angelenos for 30 years. The action takes place in the newly renovated California Plaza, at 350 South Grand Avenue in Downtown L.A..
With the Subsuelo 10 Year Anniversary slated for Saturday, September 4, 2021, from 2:00 p.m – 9:00 p.m., you can find more information about the event and Grand Performances here. The site also offers car and metro directions to Cal Plaza, along with the rest of Grand Performances Summer 2021 schedule – which includes Katzù Oso, Soulection; Hello Stranger featuring Chola Orange and Brain Story, Boogaloo Assasins; Buyepongo and Quitapenas; KCRW’s Summer Nights with Madame Gandhi in a full band performance, with DJ sets from Anne Litt and Valida; and The Do Over’s.
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