For over a decade, Ray Lugo has crisscrossed the globe bringing his punky afro grooves to countless audiences as leader and singer of New York powerhouse Kokolo, a mainstay on the global music scene through their extensive discography and consistent touring.
Well known for his appreciation of a variety of soulful styles, in 2009 Lugo began to expand the range of his musical output through a pair of well-received 7”s under the moniker L.E.S. Express. Following the enthusiastic response to the L.E.S. Express project, Lugo set out to explore his long-held interest in the classic “Boogaloo” sound of 1960’s New York, eventually forming Ray Lugo & The Boogaloo Destroyers in 2011, culminating with the group’s critically-acclaimed debut album, “Mi Watusi”, which has been broadly celebrated by connoisseurs, fans and DJ’s alike.
In 2012, the ever-prolific Lugo debuts his first solo album, “We Walk Around Like This”, welcoming the sounds of Bahia, Lagos, Kingston, San Juan, and Harlem all under one umbrella and echoing Lugo’s eclectic tastes.
A Big Apple native, Lugo grew up in the city’s notorious Lower East Side district, with his ears honed by the sounds of golden-era salsa, early punk, ska, disco, classic funk and the spell of the nascent hip hop scene. “I once read Ruben Blades say he grew up on a “good corner” in Panama”, states Lugo. “He explained it was “good” because of the broad variety of sounds and people he was exposed to as a kid. That phrase always spoke to me because I too grew up on a “good corner” in New York, at a time when there was magic in the output and creativity of the city. Lugo expands, “It was possible to start the afternoon by sneaking into CBGB’s to catch a hardcore matinee, bounce to Avenue D to check a jam in the park in the early evening and end the night getting down to some House, Freestyle or electro at Danceteria or the Roxy… all in the span of one day”. “There weren’t as many divisions in music as there are today. We would dance listening to a loop of Bob James’ “Mardi Gras” break, graffiti listening to Kraftwerk and make love listening to The Commodores. Nobody cared what the people who made that music looked like as long as we could feel it”.
This open-minded approach to music is amply reflected throughout “We Walk Around Like This”, from the caipirinha-soaked rhythms of “I Dream of Bahia” to the muscular dub of “Common Sense Is Self Defense”, the heartfelt beauty of “Deeper”, the jumping afrobeat of “Super Saoco” or the B-Boy swagger of “We Walk Around Like This”. Another highlight of the album are remixes by French prodigy Simbad and Jazz & Milk´s very own Dusty. A dynamic part of Gilles Peterson´s ´Brownswood´ imprint, London based producer Simbad is recognized for his progressive yet soulful productions. His take on "Love Me Good" displays the significant role the studio veteran has played in the UK’s music and club scene over the years. Jazz & Milk label head Dusty gets support from his soulmate, Bartellow – currently one of Munich’s most talented producers and musicians. The pair deftly retain the melodic soulfulness of "I Dream Of Bahia" yet refresh it with bass-heavy and synth driven instrumentation, thus bringing the Brazilian charm back to modern, electronic dancefloors.
Featuring a range of international talents ranging from Brazilian newcomer Elani and Shanghai’s Shelby Charnoff to India’s Kavin Paulraj as well as special appearances by percussionist Fernando Velez from Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, guitarist Andy Averbuch from The Joe Bataan Band, singer Roxie Ray from Australia’s Dojo Cuts, trumpeter John Turner from Pato Banton and trombonist Chris Morrow of Kokolo and Lou Reed fame, “We Walk Around Like This” is a skillfully crafted album that aims to bring, in the words of Lugo, “many sounds to many people”. Mission accomplished.