TIDAL Rising Artist of the Week: Riobamba
Brooklyn-based Riobamba, real name Sara Skolnick, isn’t your typical Latinx musician. Born in Springfield, Massachusetts, to Ecuadorian and Lithuanian parents, Riobamba was introduced to Latin music through the frequent parties and barbecues that occurred within Springfield’s miniature Ecuadorian diaspora.
These experiences were formative to her eventual transformation into the DJ, label head, producer, and cultural activist she is today. Seeking to further her understanding of Latin music’s cultural impact, Riobamba traveled to Bogotá, Colombia, on a Fulbright Scholarship after graduating college to study the subversive power of music.
After spending time in Boston, Riobamba moved to Brooklyn, where she quickly became a fixture in the underground Latin/Beat scene through her involvement with NYC’s storied Que Bajo?! dance party. While fielding jobs as music editor of Latinx publication Remezcla and A&R at the legendary Fania Records, Riobamba continued to cultivate her presence in New York’s underground scene.
Her rambunctious, deeply-researched live sets synthesize YouTube clips, dembow brujería, bodega soundtracks and noise hyper-reality to create a uniquely forward-thinking soundscape. Her meticulous sets caught the eye of female/femme-oriented NYC collective Discwoman, who now represent Riobamba globally. She also garnered attention from Red Bull Radio, who offered Riobamba the opportunity to create her own show; Bien Buena, presented alongside Uproot Andy, aired its first episode in February. Having co-programmed an entire Boiler Room session in 2017 and with recent performances at Panorama and Red Bull Music Festival in 2018, Riobamba’s trajectory is hurtling towards the stratosphere.
Riobamba is also the founder of APOCALIPSIS, a record label and creative agency centered on cultivating visibility for narratives by those “ni de aquí/ni de allá” (neither from here/nor from there). Serving as a platform to uplift deserving yet under-represented Latinx musicians, APOCALIPSIS is a further extension of Riobamba’s activist efforts; the label’s second release, Kelman Duran’s 13th Month LP, is out this Friday, October 19.
In addition to curating and co-producing Boiler Room’s first Reggaetón showcase, APOCALIPSIS has been a vehicle to provide ongoing music education to youths incarcerated in a Brooklyn juvenile detention center. Riobamba is an outspoken critic of human rights abuses, and uses her label, live sets and radio show as mediums of overt protest against the current administration. Her ardent support for and active participation in social justice initiatives sets her apart from many of her contemporaries, and establishes a gleaming example for the next generation of Latinx artists.
Click here to learn more about Riobamba in an interview that touches on her label, activism, and affinity for Daddy Yankee.
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