“Electronic, tropical and extraterrestrial, that´s our music,” says Rafa Caivano. Their name, he explains, (the Spanish-language pronunciation of “Freak Stylers”) is a pun on the words “free-style”. “The freakiest of free-style” he adds, laughing.
Rafa describes his path to Frikstailers which started about ten years ago, when as an adolescent in a small town in central Argentina, he became enamored with Chicago techno and in particular DJ Bam Bam, and began exploring experimental, electronic and video game music. A few years later, he partnered up with another Argentinean and fellow sound-engineer student, Lisandro Sona (who actually came more out a rock n´ roll tradition) to create Frikstailers.
Electronic and tropical is clearly evident in their music, but the extraterrestrial part was more of an enigma. They perform in what has been described as “muppet bug drag”, however, Rafa clarified, it’s actually meant to be more extraterrestrial than insect-like. On the one hand, he explained, they wanted to give the impression that they were just mediums, controlled by beings from another planet, who were communicating the musics of that distant galaxy. On the other hand, he and Lisandro wanted to differentiate their performances as Frikstailers compared to when they simply played as DJ´s, so they took to costume stores and bought the least expensive accessories they could find. Originally their get-up included wolf man masks, but these were ditched for being too dark for the luminous music they wanted to create. They kept colorful wigs and glasses and occasional antennae that they felt fit the band’s identity.
That identity is based upon the concept of a constant metamorphosis. Their musical creations emerge out of an electronic foundation that then moves through a deconstructive sampling of many musics united in their African origins: dance hall, Jamaican, Caribbean rhythms, cumbia, funky carioca from Brazil, reggaetón from Puerto Rico, and others.
It’s music above all, made for dancing, says Rafa. But beyond that, he hopes Frikstailer´s performance will also take listeners to a happy and light-filled place. And in fact, one of their recent compositions, “Bicho de Luz” is named for the many fireflies that light up the dusk in La Pampa, the area in central Argentina where he grew up. Through it, says Rafa, they hope to take people to a musical landscape that will let them… “feel the flight, and receive the light”.
Frikstailers will be performing as part of the World Music Festival on Sept. 25.