The W hotel on the novena, in the wastelands of the business north is not a place you’d usually find Oli Pritchard. But he’s here to meet Marco Bailey, acclaimed techno DJ and that rarest of things, a famous Belgian. He’s in Colombia for the second time this year, and he’s going to rock the roof off of Baum tonight – December 17
Marco Bailey has been to Colombia a number of times, “14 years I’ve been coming here” he remembers. “And in 2003 it was only vinyl. Suitcases of discs, a real hassle. I have 20 or so records with me now, I think it’s something special. I know I’m like a dinosaur, but I recognise there are things that are not digital.”
I suggest that Bogotá must have been an experience in 2002 and he replies, “It was very different back then, not many people spoke English, and I don’t speak any Spanish. Before that first show I thought ‘from where are they coming’, but at the end I was having such a good time I even played at the afterparty just for the fun of it.” It’s easy to see why he keeps coming back, as he notes, “They keep inviting me back, and I’m really happy at each request. This is a fun city. For me, Colombia – Bogotá especially – is number two in Latin America I think. Behind Buenos Aires but ahead of everywhere else.”
I’m curious to know what he thinks of the ‘electronic’ scene here, a catch-all term encompassing many different styles. “Well, I don’t think it’s good to say just ‘electronic’, you know. But I understand it’s still quite new here, different to the traditional styles. I’m glad to be playing BAUM, it’s the right place for me, for my music. The guys there understand me and what I’m doing, and the crowd is very good there. Bogotá I think now is getting educated about techno – you can’t just play anything, and they know good music when they hear it. That’s different to Cartagena, for example. It was a mistake to play there, I think, they had no clue really. The problem is that so many promoters think in money only.”
Bizzarely, after his set tonight, Marco’s travelling to Popayán. Stranger still, it’ll be his second time there “Popayán was good…they really got into the party down there. I’m looking forward to that, better weather, and it’ll be an outdoor gig under a giant tent. I played a bit of Aphex Twin there last time. Cali too, actually I think that they get it there more than in Medellín, for example. I’ve turned down Medellín a couple of times, because I thought the night wasn’t right, you know?”
Bailey presents a music show too, and he explains that, “It’s something different, you always have to do something different on the show”. Similar to recording then? “Well, I like playing and I like recording. They’re both good, but in different ways. I would hate to do just one of those things. I need to be busy.”
And so it comes to the gig. Baum is predictably busy, and the sweatpit is getting more and more worked up by the minute as they wait for Marco to come on stage. By 2am it’s impossible to move and we seek solace in the Green Room. Marco arrives around half past with a giant grin on his face. His body betrays little sign of the jet lag he’d been feeling earlier, “10 years ago I could jump over a house, Oli, but not now” and he promises it’ll be a special concert. Finally, a little past three in the morning, he takes to the stage. He’s not wrong and the crowd go mental for his beats. Adroitly switching between pounding techno and gentler grooves, it’s like an audio pill. It’s coming up for six when I leave, sweaty but satisfied, and still the hardcore fans are there in their dozens, crying out for more and desperate to miss not a single moment. Marco Bailey – not a Colombia newbie, but someone who’s always supported the Bogotá scene. Que Chimba!