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Ralphie Choo's sound is a free-wheeling mix of Madrid, then and now

Editor's Note: You may have caught a shorter version of our session with Ralphie Choo in July. This is the full interview, which includes more live performances.

Growing up, Ralphie Choo didn't listen to much mainstream music.

"My mom used to play a lot of classical music and lots of Paco de Lucía," he told World Cafe in front a live audience in Madrid. "For sure, we had no pop music."

It may come as a surprise, then, that the Madrid-based songwriter and producer is making some of the most forward-thinking pop music we've heard on World Cafe. Imagine traditional Spanish styles, like flamenco, and Latin American sounds, like cumbia, fused together by a melange of electronic and hip-hop influences. (It should come as no surprise, then, that one of Choo's earliest songs is a re-working of Rosalía and Ozuna's "Yo x Ti, Tu x Mi.")

Today, for the show's Sense of Place: Madrid series, Choo performs live from Metropol Studios in Madrid; he's sharing songs from his brand-new debut album, Supernova (out Sept. 15).

Ralphie Choo with World Cafe host Raina Douris during Choo's World Cafe performance at Metropol Studios in Madrid.
Kimberly Junod / WXPN
Ralphie Choo with World Cafe host Raina Douris during Choo's World Cafe performance at Metropol Studios in Madrid.

In between his set, Choo tells us more about his musical journey so far and what moves him to create such a complex mix of sounds.

"It's just fun," he says. "I feel like everything's been done already, but there are tiny gaps here and there where you can connect disparate pieces and come up with something beautiful and enjoyable."

Tune into the full conversation and performance in the audio player above, and check out the rest of the sessions from World Cafe's Sense of Place: Madrid series.

Special thanks to the on-site production team in Madrid: video producer Jorge Antequera; camera operators Sebastián Cáceres, Mey Montero and Jorge Antequera; sound engineer Francisco Meneses; assistant engineer Jorge Rodriguez; and Metropol production team members Alex Cappa, Susana Saavedra and Sergio Jiménez.

World Cafe producer Miguel Perez contributed to this post.

Copyright 2023 XPN

Raina Douris, an award-winning radio personality from Toronto, Ontario, comes to World Cafe from the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation), where she was host and writer for the daily live, national morning program Mornings on CBC Music. She was also involved with Canada's highest music honors: hosting the Polaris Music Prize Gala from 2017 to 2019, as well as serving on the jury for both that award and the Juno Awards. Douris has also served as guest host and interviewer for various CBC Music and CBC Radio programs, and red carpet host and interviewer for the Juno Awards and Canadian Country Music Association Awards, as well as a panelist for such renowned CBC programs as Metro Morning, q and CBC News.
World Cafe senior producer Kimberly Junod has been a part of the World Cafe team since 2001, when she started as the show's first line producer. In 2011 Kimberly launched (and continues to helm) World Cafe's Sense of Place series that includes social media, broadcast and video elements to take listeners across the U.S. and abroad with an intimate look at local music scenes. She was thrilled to be part of the team that received the 2006 ASCAP Deems Taylor Radio Broadcast Award for excellence in music programming. In the time she has spent at World Cafe, Kimberly has produced and edited thousands of interviews and recorded several hundred bands for the program, as well as supervised the show's production staff. She has also taught sound to young women (at Girl's Rock Philly) and adults (as an "Ask an Engineer" at WYNC's Werk It! Women's Podcast Festival).
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