interior of La Conga music store in Passaic, N.J. Photo by Alexis Stephens
This project will examine where the production of contemporary electronic music engages with
informal economies and transnational distribution networks, with a specific focus on the Mexican
cumbia sonidera scene along the East Coast such as Passaic, NJ. Although thriving, with dozens of parties each month in the NYC area alone, this scene has been ignored by both English- and Spanish-language media. Its locally-produced music enters, almost immediately, into highly fluid global routes of circulation. At parties, for instance, crowds give the DJ handwritten notes and text messages to be read on top of the music; these contain shout-outs to distant family, friends, and lovers. Afterward, the DJs sell live recordings of the night, which attendees then purchase and mail across the border (or hold onto as personal souvenirs).
I'm particularly interested in how these practices touch on aspects of memory and tangibility in the