Born to a Paraguayan father and Mexican mother, Daniel Russo Garrido (aka Boogat) got the songwriting bug when he listened to the seminal album “Prose Combat” by French rapper MC Solaar. He released his first album, Tristes et belles histoires, in 2004. His second, more self-assured, album, Patte de salamandre, was released in 2006, followed by a limited edition remix album – Rmx Vol. 1 – in 2008. After those three hip-hop albums in French, he launched the utterly eclectic El Dorado Sunset in February 2013, an album entirely in Spanish, save for one collaboration with Radio Radio entitled “Wow”. As it turned out, this had become necessary for this old schooler of Montréal’s hip hop scene.
“I was in-between two chairs. My music was too intellectual for the hip hop clique and too rap for the singer-songwriter crowd. I was constantly miscategorised. It was a problem for concert booking, notably, it was quite annoying and didn’t work so well. Around 2007, I started playing with salsa and rock bands that required me to rap in Spanish. From that point on, I never had to tell people to throw their hands up in the air. They danced wholeheartedly and were happy to be there and have a good time. This changed allowed me to be attracted to other scenes et meet new people. It became obvious that I had to pursue this avenue,” says the talkative 33 year old singer-songwriter and producer.
The result is a cascade of warm and lascivious rhythms that borrow as much from urban and electronic music as they do from dancehall and Latino music; a natural, organic sound with powerful melodies and bold arrangements. In other words, it’s a very modern and ambitious offering that dares you not to move. Produced in collaboration with Ghislain Poirier, Boogat says his friend’s help was invaluable. “He’s taught me to test-run my material live before I record it. Basically all the tracks on the album were played before à crowd before I recorded them in the studio. I wanted to see people’s reactions, and it helped me a lot. Poirier really opened my eyes to a lot of stuff and the result is explosive. For music aficionados, this album is one great big messy affair! It’s filled with stuff that shouldn’t go together but were introduced to each other nonetheless. In other words, it’s like life.”
Subtitled “el gran baile de las identidades” (the grand ball of identities), the album is a celebration of cultures, the Latina culture, but also the Québécois culture. For Daniel, language cannot be a hurdle to music. He admits to not listening much to the francophone scene, but he thinks this is because that scene is facing a major problem. “When I did music in French, all I was thinking of was making it on commercial radios and in France; those were my only options. Nowadays, thinking that language is a hindrance to the free circulation of art is a big mistake. It is hard to make it in New York because the music there is of unbelievably high quality and, let’s be honest, a lot of the music on the francophone scene is musically very uninteresting. It’s a music that does not sound “now”. We must play on the level of great international productions; I’m sure one day we can make it. What we need for this to happen is a francophone band that will make it big outside of the Francophonie and open people’s eyes.”
Despite the incredibly high number of artists on the scene and a fledgling music industry, the young man holds his head high; no way he’s going to feel sorry for himself. He says: “The people complaining about the sad state of the music industry are mostly people from the the old school, but that type of nostalgia does nothing for me. I believe the musicians have the power, nowadays. I’ve enjoyed a flourishing career ever since people started saying the music industry is ailing. The world is changing, evolving. There’s nothing we can do about it. We need to adapt. No one can make it anymore if they are not entirely committed to their career. It’s harder and harder to become popular and fill venues with just one good song. If you hope to make it as a musician, you had better be exceptionally good at it! The people who attend concerts know their music. They know right away if you’re good or not. In fact, we’re back to the point where we were before music started being recorded. It’s all back to the stage, the performance and artistry, now.”
Even though he has not given up on exporting his sound abroad, the artist focuses mainly on Québec. After shooting to videos for the songs “Eres Hecha para Mi” and “Único”, Boogat is planning a quick trip to Europe in the fall and hopes to launch his album in territories outside Canada. For him, however, it is out of the question to think according to specific markets. “When creating art, one should not think about things like that. If what you have to offer is interesting here, it will be elsewhere, too. I like to focus on one thing at a time; not rush into anything. It really irritates me when I hear people say Québec is not a cool province; it is magnificent and unique! Any artist only needs to present their material in an interesting fashion, and people will be on board!”