Yuba Reverb Collective unifies community through dance
The pedestrians that ornament Nevada City’s Broad Street walk to the beat of their own drum — and bass. Now, as the post-pandemic world appeared as if it was slowing down, the beats per minute sped up.
The Yuba Reverb collective — made up of DJ Martin Bravo (Vortic), DJ and music producer Matías Larrea (Aguadelafuente) and DJ and promoter Adalberto Carbajal (Carbajal) — committed to share the vibrations found in the clubs of Santiago de Chile and Guadalajara, Mexico amid Nevada County’s “post-”pandemic renaissance. The collective will be performing for the third time in Nevada County tonight at The Brick in Nevada City.
“Yuba Reverb was born by the need of manifesting a space for dance and club culture, specifically in house, techno, breakbeat and leftfield subgenres of electronic music, which are not very popular in the Grass Valley-Nevada City area,” Carbajal said, adding that “leftfield” refers to the kind of sound heard outside of a headlining stage at a festival.
“My quest right now is to find the sounds for the smaller stages,” said Carbajal, a native of Mexico. “The ones that don’t have fireworks, dancers, visuals and lighting. The dark and smaller places where people go to dance without feeling shy.”
For that reason, the music may not feel “easy.”
“It’s more about pushing your boundaries, in between your movements, what you’re listening to and how you feeling,” Carbajal said. “It’s not something that people are used to. It’s something new to explore their bodies and their minds.”
After the pandemic, a few shows popped up, highlighting genres such as bass, psytrance, tropical house and deep house, which received more exposure with growing excitement for the pandemic’s second attempt at Burning Man. With less than ten live music venues to choose from to entertain the county’s growing population, Carbajal said there was little room for club music and leftfield genres generally affiliated with cosmopolitan cities and urban lifestyle.
“Even if the reason for this seems obvious, as we are located in the middle of the Sierra Nevada, there is a huge community of travelers and immigrants eager to dance and looking for a place to express themselves,” Carbajal said.
According to Bravo, the name ‘Yuba Reverb’ is in honor of Nevada County’s primary life force — the Yuba River.
“It’s born from solicitude at the south fork on Highway 49,” Bravo — or Mvortic — said. “At the river we played a game with the word ‘reverb.’ It’s a sound effect DJs can put on the music to make an echo sensation.”
The collective’s first show took place in the Brass Rail in North San Juan this past summer. Soon after, Yuba Reverb sold out at the Haven Underground. Networking did not initially yield the kind of results the collective hoped for in a smaller town, Carbajal said.
“It was hard for us to find a place to make a formal party, as most of the venues ignored our requests, stating that only locals were planning events,“ Carbajal said, adding that he and his fellow musicians have always wanted to share their talents and collaborate with creators who were born and raised in the area. ”Lately, they’ve been more open about the idea of letting foreigners take over their spaces, allowing a new audience to experience our music and expanding the community.“
Bravo said he mainly plays dark, hypnotic, acid techno, while Larrea specializes in industrial techno. The DJs play back-to-back, Bravo said, ultimately mixing all styles to create an audio collage.
“Techno is one genre but it has a lot of subgenres.”
“Our fusion is really good,“ Bravo said.
Carbajal said Nevada County’s slower pace, when compared with the rest of the state, nourishes some artists by giving them time and space to finesse their craft. The history, culture and nature offer constant sources of inspiration, Carbajal said, but the intention here has never been to achieve name recognition.
“We’re not looking to displace your culture but to enrich the musical spectrum that a town with a worldwide community should have,” Carbajal said. ”In 2021, cultural boundaries should be something to be ignored in order to create a diverse community and enriched human experience.“
Carbajal said he has been grateful to provide visitors and full-time residents alike a dose of club culture amid black the black oaks, pines and granite.
“What we want is club culture — a sweaty, dark place where people are dancing, not showing off,” Carbajal said. “It’s more so for people who want to give it all on the dance floor, not caring how good-looking or pretty they are, this is raw and harsh and that’s what we are trying to share.”
Carbajal said the scene he has tried to create locally looks more like the parties in Berlin, Madrid and Manchester than he expected. Now, the triage takes pride in performing their specific type of electronic music — a high energy, tribal and dark sound punctuated by specific percussion — in a remote but richly gifted location.
Nevada County draws all sorts of world travelers, Carbajal said, noting the appeal of the cannabis industry and Ayurveda school as being tertiary to the region’s obvious relationship with international ceremonies used for healing, like temazcales.
Carbajal said the steampunk style and bass music that characterizes the Burning Man aesthetic can be very performative and noted how, even in settings like ecstatic dance, participants lose the freedom of anonymity offered by club culture.
Carbajal said he is aware of and sensitive to the other kinds of events and affiliated music in town, noting the differences electronic music’s subgenres — in pace, aesthetic and countries of origin. Still, Carbajal said, “we see dance as a spiritual thing, a reunion of souls.”
Carbajal said he sees the need for artists like himself to continue to collaborate with local venue owners and other musicians, for the benefit of the Nevada County community as it recovers from the pandemic.
“I’m not sure how long are we staying around, but if we can contribute for a night so that people can express themselves through dance and share the joy of loud music, we will keep doing our best,“ Carbajal said. ”I do believe in music as tool for catharsis and as a way to heal our bodies and souls”.
Rebecca O’Neil is a staff writer with The Union. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Contributions were made to this story by Adalberto Carbajal
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Due to the recent surge in COVID-19 cases locally, the Happy Birthday, Janis show has been postponed to one night only on Saturday, Feb. 19 at 8 p.m.