In 2007 after pioneering a series of events across the capital, DJ Jose Luis & the La Bomba promoters were invited to stage their cross-over Latin rave at a large scale venue, starting in what was then the Hammersmith Palais and moving a few months later to Ministry Of Sound.
Holding a residency at MOS for 8 years as well as residencies at Pacha (Ibiza and London), The Honey Club and TBC (Brighton), SE One, Scala, Plan B and other venues across Europe, La Bomba enjoyed an unprecedented run and was hailed as the ‘No 1 Latin club night’ at the time.
La Bomba helped break the now global phenomenon of Reggaetón in the UK, being the first club night to play and host artists such as Daddy Yankee, Don Omar, Wisin & Yandel and Pitbull. Ten years later Reggaetón has established itself as a mainstream force within the music industry, infusing some of 2017s most successful global pop anthems with its hypnotic beat, in part thanks to producers such as Major Lazer and DJ Snake.
New Latino artists such as J Balvin, Maluma, Farruko, Gente de Zona and the pioneer Nicky Jam have reached worldwide fame, on the back of this uniquely Latin rhythm. Reggaeton has also had its influence on a new Latin London generation, and the next La Bomba will witness some of the city’s hottest mix of talents jamming the party alongside the original DJ squad. Here to give us the lowdown on what we can expect is London's pioneering reggaeton DJ and club promoter Jose Luis.
Tell us a bit about your summer, what you’ve been up to?
Summer was good, I did a few festivals and the reggaeton sound was the sound of summer 2017 which was great. It was great to see the result of many years of hard work!
With ‘Despacito’ the major crossover hit of the summer, how do you see Latin music at the moment and what have been the biggest changes since you’ve been working in the scene?
We’ve been here for a long time now and Latino music is just becoming more popular and that’s good for everyone who loves and makes it.
In terms of changes...well when we first started sending press releases about our events, no British journalist knew what reggaeton was! Now people see the whole Latino music thing as a serious thing and realise it’s become quite mainstream with many A-List music artists using the sound or having featured reggaeton artists on their songs.
La Bomba is back next weekend with a ‘Back To School’ party and you’re also opening a second room playing salsa and bachata. What does the second room bring to La Bomba and can you tell us a bit about the room & who’s playing?
Well the salsa/bachata room was always part of La Bomba but we just didn’t have the room in this venue before but now things were moved a bit and we finally have that room back! It’s more for people who are into traditional Latino sounds and is a more chilled vibe. Girls love the whole Bachata dance movement because that thing is a movement with millions of people across Europe dancing to it!
Originally from Venezuela, you’ve been in London for seventeen years now and what inspired you to base yourself in London?
It was kinda fate and I wouldn’t change the London vibe for any other city. I just found more reasons to stay but then I’ve been here longer than anywhere else so I feel like it’s my city. It is a wonderful city for music despite the fact it’s super hard in terms of living and making money.
Can you tell us about your path to running La Bomba, and how has the club helped develop the scene in London?
We ran smaller parties before La Bomba, at clubs like Fire in Vauxhall and places that at the time were really underground. I am talking 12-13 years ago. Then we had the chance to do Ministry Of Sound and there was a real buzz about what we were doing.
At one point we were the biggest urban party in London, at a time where hip-hop was not really played in any mainstream club but because we were playing the Latino angle of urban music we were able to get away with it. Then the club crisis hit and we were still hosting events at Ministry Of Sound and Pacha and then we slowed down for a couple of years.
Now we’re back on it and it’s great because there’s a very healthy 'reggaeton' scene now with big events, smaller weekday events, concerts...everything and 4 reggaeton tunes in the Top 20 charts across the world. That’s not just because of us but we are happy to have played our part in pioneering the reggaeton movement in the UK.
Who influenced you through your early stages of your career?
I am a house head, so it will always be Masters At Work, Roger Sanchez, Eric Morillo and then later on people like Diplo, DJ Nelson, DJ EZ...too many to count!
You’ve worked with some of the biggest names in Latin and reggaeton music, but what are some of the highlights of your career to date?
Putting on Daddy Yankee at La Bomba the first time he came to London was pretty cool. We also worked with Lucenzo, the guy who created ‘Danza Kuduro’ and actually brought him over the year that "Danza Kuduro" was the most played song globally so it was kind of a big deal. But to be honest I’m not the groupie type so I focus on what I do despite working with some pretty heavy and very talented artists and DJs.
The Latin music and reggaeton scene is ever evolving and where do you see the scene going in the next couple of years?
I think there will be more collaborations between non-Latinos and Latinos. Hopefully, we will have a big urban UK artist jumping on some reggaeton track with a big Latino name…that would be dope!
Which artists are currently on your hot list and what makes them stand out?
J Balvin, Maluma, Ozuna, Danny Ocean, Pucho, Nacho...the new generation of Urban Latino artists and the classic ones, Daddy Yankee, Wisin, Yandel, Tego...they keep the quality of their music very high.
What is your favourite format - equipment when DJing?
I love Pioneer CDJs but for the last year, I’ve been using the Traktor S4 or the Pioneer SX2. Playing with software has really developed my sets and I like doing a lot of live mashups. I can play around 30-40 songs per hour in a set and doing that with CDs was pretty impossible! I love DJ technology so I’m open to whatever new comes out that’s good!
You’re also branching out into production I hear and how’s that going?
That’s been a long road but I’m getting there. I actually studied to be an electronic music producer at college and there is a certain standard that you have to meet so it’s taken a while for me to get things out. At the moment I have about 25 tunes in the last stages of production so in the next few months I will get all that out!
What have been your 5 outstanding moments through your many years of DJing?
The first time I played at Ministry of Sound with DJ Buddha headlining La Bomba. It was a roadblock and Ministry weren’t expecting that to happen - they had to chain the doors shut!. That was an incredible feeling for me and for everyone involved. It was the first time a Latino party was held at Ministry and everyone turned up. That was the start of many great things for La Bomba.
When I played at Pacha Ibiza and Frankie Knuckles was headlining the bill.I finished my set and went to see him play and then had the chance to meet him via my good friend who was his mate. Pretty unreal meeting one of your heroes and he was such a cool guy!
The first time I played at SEONE, at that time the biggest club in London, and according to some of the clubbers, one of my best sets ever!
Opening for Daddy Yankee at the Brixton 02 Academy was a really amazing event and everyone was so excited. You could feel it in the air.
My Friday residency at Gabeto (formerly The Cuban) in Camden. It’s a great gig with a good mix of people every week including tourists, regulars and Londoners so I have to be on top form to deliver a good set! I’m there on Fridays when not at La Bomba or working abroad.
Any tips for budding DJs/promoters?
For DJs - don’t sleep on the job, the new kids are coming with a lot of new ideas and they’re hungry! The new DJs…focus on your craft before trying to go out there and trying to sell yourself as the next big thing. It’s very hard to find a good DJ today as it was 15-20 years ago.
To my homeboy promoters, try to bring something different to your promotions and don’t copy each other. It’s the death sentence for a scene when promoters don’t come up with any new ideas.
Finally what's your favourite song right now and do you get out from behind the decks and dance ever?
At the moment, J Balvin is really killing it with 'Mi Gente' and no I don’t dance that much. A little shuffle every now and then but I’m kind of a serious dude.
Jose Luis heads the cast of DJs at La Bomba’s ‘Back To School’ party on Friday, September 22nd flanked by Luigi Sanchez, Kevin “Gato”, Eric Moreno, Joga, JJ Latino, Tulimar and Diego Rocha at the O2 Academy Islington. All info can be found on the La Bomba website & Facebook