Published Jan 01, 2006When the Washington, DC duo of Eric Hilton and Rob Garza surfaced onto the music scene in the mid-90s, there wasn't much buzz surrounding the Brazilian and bossa nova vibes that dominated their recordings. Along with the talents of Fila Brazilia and Kruder & Dorfmeister, Thievery Corporation was digging into somewhat fresh territory with chilled ethno beats that seemed to go hand-in-hand with the lounge scene. But fast-forwarding to the pair's latest release, The Richest Man in Babylon, everyone has jumped on the Brazilian, bossa nova and dub bandwagons and the itch to cash in has resulted in everything from car commercials to coffee shop compilations.
"People tend to latch onto gimmicks, like Asian lounge' or Brazil electro' compilations," explains Hilton regarding the swarm of record companies banking on world flavour. "It just seems so corny." Yet amongst the flood of artists that have emerged from this wave, Thievery Corporation has kept their head above water, prevailing as true originators of the movement, something The Richest Man in Babylon clearly proves. "We happen to like dub and bossa nova and Brazilian music but it's not a gimmick. It's just something we love and enjoy."
With the amount of exposure and saturation that Thievery Corporation's genre is receiving, along with the many mediocre imitators, what sort of effect will this surge have in the long run? "I don't see anything good [coming from the trend,]" reckons Hilton on the current state of affairs. "You could say something like, Oh well it's exposing people to Brazilian music' but I don't think it is. I don't think people will go that extra step and check out authentic roots music. They'll probably stay right there with their electro compilation, and I don't think that's really productive."