Kuenta i Tambú is an Amsterdam-based carnival of a band who mix up the music of founder Roël Calister’s native Curaçao in the Caribbean with modern electronic dance music. Building on traditional Afro-Caribbean drum and vocal layers, they mix in electronic samples, and a variety of vocal styles to create a whole new sound that is being called everything from Global Bass to Tambútronic. After a storming run of summer gigs and festival bookings across Europe, October brings the release of their new album, RAIS. The album is being preceeded by taster single Dutch Major Leaguer which the band describe as “an autobiographical song about all the hard work, no sleepand hustling that goes into making Kuenta i Tambú happen”. Dutch Major Leaguer was co-produced by Schlachthofbronx and the video was filmed by Magenta Films.
Roël explains how the name and the concept for the band came about, “Kuenta i Tambú means ‘Tales and Drums’ in Papiamentu, the native language of Curaçao. As well as being a specific type of drum, Tambú is also the name of the dance and the music style that is accompanied by these drums”. The album’s title, Rais, means ‘roots’ in Papiamentu and Roël explains “the use of the word Rais relates to our wish with this album to get to the roots of the traditional music of Curaçao, we recorded half the album there, with many guest drummers, singers and a children’s choir. A lot of the tracks feature live takes rather than overly processed loops to keep a spontaneous, rootsy atmosphere and musical authenticity to the album”.
“The band’s musical influences are as diverse as their styles”, explains Roël, “we areworking to incorporate inspiration from electronic dance music innovators such as DieAntwoord, Major Lazer and MIA; along with the tradtional music that is kept alive byartists from Curaçao such as Izaline Calister [Roël’s sister], Grupo Issoco and EliaIsenia”.
Following 2016’s single Don’t Wanna Behave that featured Dutch MC Typhoon and was produced on MTV Live at Red Bull Studios, Rais further brings the traditional and modern together. With lyrics inspired by the storytelling traditions of the Tambú, the band weave hypnotic and danceable drum beats with live-recorded samples and create an energetic force which is hard not to love. With a vibrant, carnival-esque live show that rivals Buraka Som Sistema and Basement Jaxx, the band’s philosophy (or lack thereof) is that they are “like a caribbean punk band. No particular philosophy. We goharder and harder, louder and louder!”.