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R-Tronika revolutionizes the streets of the Big Apple with its new musical style

Singing in Spanish and English and integrating diverse genres such as techno, punk, ska, hip-hop, dub, reggae, rock and Andean music, multicultural collective R-Tronika is making fresh music with social content. With audiovisual artist Renzo Ortega at the helm of the group, R-Tronika is known for the charisma, enthusiasm and explosive energy it exudes on stage.

“The sound systems that I have enjoyed so much over the years, like Manu Chao’s Radio Bemba, the Orquesta Sinfonica de Barbes, Todos tus Muertos, Antibalas and Fermin Muguruza’s Kontra Banda are my inspiration. The best part is that along the way I met other people with similar ideologies willing to embark on this experience and it is like a dream come true to have their support. The energy is so different,” explains Ortega, who plays the keyboards and writes most of the group’s music. He has been playing in bands since his teenage years in his native Peru, among which Vacuna tu Hijo is the best known.

In 2009, R-Tronika has become a collective made up of eight members who come from different countries and have diverse musical backgrounds. Members joined the band little by little until becoming the musical collective R-Tronika is today.

“The first ones to join R-Tronika’s reincarnation as a collective were Felipunky (Felipe Quiroz) on percussion and Nicolas Behncke on bass, and I consider them to be the backbone of the new R-Tronika. They are also, in a sense, responsible for our new sounds and rhythms,” Ortega says. “Then came Johnatan Uran, who was the vocalist of New Jersey punk band 99 Cents or Less, where Nico also played,” he adds. Uran takes care of freestyle singing, adding rap, dancehall and hip-hop touches to the group.

Ortega continues explaining that “when we began recording demos I invited Taina, vocalist of legendary Puerto Rican punk band Cojoba, and Tania Murphy, who has experience singing Peruvian folk songs, to join us with their excellent voices. We made our first appearance with this line-up in Queen’s Make Music NY event in June 2008. Later on Karlita Matute, who has experience singing in choirs, also joined Taina and Tania on vocals. Camilo Quiroz from Green Supreme joined the group as well, adding funky and rocking guitar sounds,” Ortega says.

R-Tronika looks set to continue growing its line-up. Ortega indicates that the group is rehearsing with trombone player Jonathan Mateo, who has played with ska band La Fundacion from Puerto Rico, whom he hopes to include in the group’s live shows very soon.

With its upbeat and electricity-filled live shows, R-Tronika has already attracted a solid fanbase in New York City which is set to continue growing.

Ortega concludes saying that “R-Tronika is New York City. Listen to us and look around. We’re here representing the people. We’re not bringing anything foreign or trying to look exotic. What we do is real and was born here in the city’s streets, in the subways, at work, with all the people who came and joined New York City’s multicultural spirit. This is music without borders.”