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Bastidas

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Peru
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Artist Spotlight

Gray Area Interview: Bastidas

Sierra Vandervort

4 min read

There's never anything overnight about success. The paths we follow to our most treasured goals are often long, winding, and include switchbacks and detours. Peruvian tech-house DJ, Bastidas (né Jose Guerrero Bastidas) has been obsessively consuming everything about music and production for over 20 years. After years of hard work, he's not only writing infectiously lucious Latin-tinged records, he’s uplifting and supporting the South American music community in an effort to pay back the immense support his community has given him.

Bastidas grew up in Lima, Peru with an insatiable appetite for music. His parent’s weren’t musicians, but he cites his uncles’ massive music collection as an early inspiration.

“I was into every type of music, I loved to collect music,” Bastidas said when I spoke to him over Zoom. “I remember having a little notebook, and when I was looking at music videos that was my addiction, just writing the names of the songs and musicians.” It wasn’t long before Bastidas—affectionately nicknamed Basti—discovered electronic music.

After moving to Miami with his family at age 11, Bastidas began an obsession with dance music, much ado to his influential older brother. He bought his first bit of DJ gear when he was 12, and a fire ignited. It was the early 2000s, and the Miami club scene was just about the explode.

But before he could headline the Miami clubs, young, ambitious Bastidas had to hone his craft. He played house parties and high school events before he was old enough to go clubbing. Even from these tender early years, Bastidas was a hustler. “I remember when I was 15, I used to play everything. Sometimes I used to play in restaurants too. Anything, you know, because it was like a hustle.”

He could've waited until he was old enough, but the pull was too great. So, as soon as found a good enough fake ID, he started exploring the local club scene.

Bastidas regularly visited Club Space in Miami, a mecca for dance music lovers craving marathon raves in the Sunshine State. The reggaeton and Latino influence on Miami’s dance music was palpable, especially during one of Erick Morillo’s sets. Morillo wore his Columbian heritage on his sleeve during his sold-out sets at Club Space, and young Bastidas was intrigued. He saw this merger of house music and Latino culture as vitally influential and widely underrated. Those Morillo sets at Space helped shape Bastidas’ trajectory for the next decade.

By 2010, Bastidas was orchestrating his own showcases at Club Space with big-name South American artists and producers (Jean Pierre, and Patrick M, for example). These early iterations of his label and project From the South already had a fully formed ethos: to celebrate and uplift Latino music and producers.

“When I created [From the South] I was like, let's see if I can push more artists from over there that really they keep working hard and producing 24/7,” he said. “Obviously, they sometimes cannot fly because (getting a) visa is difficult for them. But they're such talented people all around.”

The label’s premiere single “Vinotinto” features Bastidas and two other grade-A Latino producers, Luciano and Carloh. Five days after its release, “Vinotinto” was cruising steadily in the #1 spot on the Beatport charts.

Though a debut single reaching #1 is impressive, the pièce de résistance of Bastidas’ career thus far is undoubtably his pop-up shows in Comuna 13 in Medellin, Columbia. Most famously known as Pablo Escobar’s old neighborhood–that was once rampant with drugs, poverty, and violence–Comuna 13 is now a slowly blossoming community. One day, Basti and British producer wAFF, decided to throw a block party in Comuna 13.

“We planned out everything in one day,” he said. “When we started playing, we didn't know what was going to happen and we didn't know if the cops were going to come shut us down. So it was crazy.”

Bastidas at Comuna 13, Medellin DJ Set

The cops didn't shut them down. Instead, they created a moment of pure communal support and joy. With rented decks on a small rooftop, Bastidas and wAFF converted Comuna 13 into a happy house playground. Children ran playfully through the dancefloor, and local mothers opened their homes (and restrooms) to the guests.

“Everyone was so happy,” Bastidas recalled. They made you know so much money for their families and the community. It was a mix of everything, so it was beautiful.” After a successful rerun of the block party in 2022, Bastidas now hopes to turn the event into a festival.

With such an impressive work ethic, it’s no surprise that Bastidas is keeping one foot in the future. With a successful new record, a blossoming record label, and a passionate purpose driving it all, Bastidas only has one question for himself. “Nobody expect this, you know. When ‘Vinotinto’ was released, we saw the love from the people. It was so organic. Now we're just preparing for the future. ‘So what's next?’”

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