Love, loss, and the joys and tribulations of being human have long inspired songs. But for Chile's Latin Bitman, the musical project of former Olympic surfer José Antonio Bravo, it's the thrill of riding waves that brings his music to life - that intersection between seizing the moment and letting his instinct and intuition guide him through sonic soundscapes.
"Music is about feeling," he said during a Skype interview from his home in Santiago. "It's about being alive in the moment, and opening your eyes about life."
After 11 albums, Latin Bitman now teams with Nora Norman, an emerging young R&B singer from Spain, to explore the connection between surfing and music even more in their new single, "You".
The inspired collaboration grooves to the feeling of balancing over both surging waves and surging emotions of conflicted love.
Nora Norman was a fitting choice. As I discovered at last year's Latin Alternative Music Conference in New York, she surprisingly sings R&B in English with a voice that could have easily fit among the stable of 1960s Stax vocalists.
"I was just amazed by her voice," recalls Bitman. Norman's soulful singing captures the song's essence: learning to stand in your own power against a forceful current that can unapologetically sweep you wherever it wants – and at your expense. Stir in some dembow (a pan-Carribean reggaeton roots beat), some dancehall, some DJing and an etheric beach vibe and you have an organic mix that reflects two very distinct palettes and creates a sound unique to their partnership.
"Cause you, yes just you
Yea, you do this crazy thing to me
Yea you, don't want to, don't want to admit it
That you mistreat me"
"You" is the first release from his upcoming album Homies slated for March. Bitman considers it his best album yet. It's "less spontaneous and more mature," he says, having taken the time to envision the outcome, massage each song's feeling, and collaborate with various artists over four years.
It also marks a fuller transition from prolific DJ to composer/producer. The surfer from Arica never even imagined having a career in music, much less creating high-profile syncs that include popular American TV shows (Dexter, Weeds, Nikita, Nip Tuck and 90210), global music festivals, major ad campaigns (Coke, Verizon, etc.), remixes for prominent artists and now artistic collaborations. But one thing he's learned is that, "whatever you're passionate about, if you follow your instinct, it can be yours. Sooner or later you will get there," whether standing above a surfboard or running a mixing board.
Latin Bitman will do a live launch of his new album 'Homies' at Lollapalooza Chile in mid-March.