Meet Your Moombahtonistas (#5): Jon Kwest


A man of true diversity and versatility, Jon Kwest soars under the radar.  It’s not his style to be out in the limelight, flaunting his creativity.  He’s more of a “behind the scenes” type guy, and while that’s extremely humble of him, unfortunately it often leads to him being quite underrated.  Currently a resident of Philly, Kwest hails from my charming city of Baltimore.  He produces amazing Baltimore club music and despite my selfish desire to see him perform a club set in Baltimore, he is fully submerged in the moombahton scene.  I’m not mad at that at all.  He’s one of the most productive and meticulous moombahton producers in the game right now, only releasing tunes that are top of the line productions.  You won’t see any throw-away tracks coming from this guy.

While his moombahton productions vary in vibe from time to time, he’s known for creating this particularly smooth, soulful sound by replacing sirens and rave horns with house grooves and R&B vocals.  One of my favorite moombahton productions of his is “Dreamin’”, which samples vocals from that Christopher Williams’ tune, “I’m Dreamin’”.  Not exactly the standard moombahton rage tune, Kwest’s “Dreamin’” has this morning glory vibe to it.  He excels at producing tracks that are just outright super soulful, straddling the line between moombahton and moombahsoul, the hybrid of moombahton and R&B, which explains his heavy involvement with David Heartbreak’s Moombahsoul Compilation releases.  Kwest has seen his own productions featured on Heartbreak’s moombahsoul releases, as well as tracks he’s collaborated on with Heartbreak and DJ Melo.  This is where he thrives.  Don’t get me wrong – dude can rage.  But he stands out when he makes moombahton for the ladies.

As far as the subgenres of moombahton go, so far we’ve heard moombahcore, the hybrid of moombahton and dubstep, and moombahsoul.  But last week, Jon Kwest extended his creative reach by releasing Dust Mask, a compilation of new tunes that present a brand new hybrid of moombahton and UK hardcore (listen above).  Despite the lack of an official moombahname, Kwest found enough parallels between the two genres to be able to form a fresh and energetic hybrid, funneling the heavy synths of UK hardcore and the familiar dubstep wobble into moombahton zone at 108bpm.  On Dust Mask, Kwest slows down UK hardcore and revives these classic rave tunes by adding the sexiness of moombahton, reeling in all sorts of party people by appealing to both new school moombahton heads and old school ravers.  With these types of musical innovations, the moombahfamily just gets bigger and bigger by the day.

As a fan of moombahton, you owe it to yourself to see Jon Kwest live and in action.  He played a killer set at Moombahton Massive Tres in April.  And two weeks ago at the Artscape festival in Baltimore, he performed a set that was so heavily saturated in moombahton exclusives.  Tonight, he’ll be at Red Maple in Baltimore for Serious Dynamite’s first ever moombahton showcase.  Admittedly, the party people in Baltimore haven’t latched onto the moombahteet as well as its DC counterparts, but who better to open the floodgates than Jon Kwest himself?  And finally, if you can’t make it to Baltimore tonight, you better make plans to see him at U Hall on August 18th for Moombahton Massive VI.  It’s gonna be the biggest problem DC’s seen since Marion Barry.

(Tonight, Serious Dynamite begins at 10PM.  Get there early to enjoy $5 mojitos and boombas, and $3 Red Stripe until 11:30.  Plus, moombahton all night!  It’s a no-brainer.  Where else would you wanna be?!)

Anyway, I was really lucky to be able to catch up with Jon Kwest.  I had so many questions for him but I didn’t want to stifle his productivity so I kept it short.  We talked about the characteristics of moombahton that drew him to the genre, which producers are currently rockin’ his world, and what kind of advice he has for up and coming producers.

Cool Breezy:  How long have you been DJing and producing?  What came before moombahton?

JK:  [I] started DJing when I [began] high school, mostly hip-hop and some house & hardcore breaks.  My first real gig was in ‘94 playing jungle at a party in DC at that five-story “Bomb Shelter” warehouse. I remember Diesel Boy was playing too.  I was pretty hyped.

Production began around ‘98/’99, I guess.  When I started working at Music Liberated, [I] met up with Ian Carey.  Dude hooked me up with studio time here and there and that was it – I was hooked.  Around 2000 or so, Reason came out and the “room full of credit card debt” type studio wasn’t necessary.  Production became a daily thing.

CB:  What initially inspired you to start creating moombahton tunes?

JK:  The tempo is what primarily drove me to moombahton.  It was new, not just a half time snare over an existing genre.  It doesn’t mix tempo-wise with any other type of music so you have to really want to play it to play it.  I like the fact that there was pretty much every style of music represented.  It wasn’t all just noisy and hard, like it seems every new genre goes all too quickly.

I had been messing with mid-tempo type tunes for the last few years, but basically never had the balls or standing to really pursue it like Nada did.  Dude definitely went about it the right way.

CB:  Your name is at the top of many DJs’ lists of “favorite producers” right now.  How does it make you feel to be that dude?  And who are some of your favorite producers right now? 

JK:  I’m super hyped that like-minded people relate to what I do.  That’s why all of us let people hear our music.  I just do me though.  I’ve been going at this rate for a long time now.  Luckily, I found an outlet that motivated me to push myself again.

My favorites is a tough question… lotta folks.  Heartbreak, Munchi, Nadastrom, DJ Melo, Uncle Jesse, Sabo, Pickster One, Billy The Gent, Cam Jus and all the OG’s pretty much go without saying.  Tactic, Smutlee, Ckrono, Boyfriend, Neki Stranac, Sazon Booya, Soron, A-Mac, JWLS, Long Jawns, Nate Metro, DJ Theory all killin’ it right now.  Some cats I’ve only recently came across DJ DIce/Chicago Deadbeats & Habanero Posse out of Japan been sending me some nastiness lately.  I know as soon as I send this I’ll notice who I left off of this list and kick myself.

Every week I’m hearing from someone new that motivates me to go harder.

CB:  You have a lot of influence not only in the moombahton scene but also in the Baltimore club scene.  How do the two currently compare?

JK:  Current Baltimore Club is almost a grey term. It’s expanded and re-invented itself over the last few years.  Dudes like Benny Stixx, King Tutt, Murder Mark, DJ Say Wut [produce] tunes [that] can sound any number of different ways, which shows a versatility pretty much unseen since the term “Bmore Club” was termed in the early 90’s – no disrespect to anyone.

That, I believe, is the common ground.  We all wanted something new and instead of waiting for it, we made it.  We made it; expanded it; forced its evolution and made it our own voice.  That’s what makes influential music, not pandering.

It’s not supposed to be for everyone.

CB:  Do you have any words of advice for up-and-coming DJs and producers out there?

JK:  Do you 100%.  If you half ass your ideas to make dim wits happy, you should just throw in the towel and quit muddying up the craft.

Just as important, though – be humble, be polite and give credit where credit is due, but nothing of value ever comes from ass-kissing or dick-riding.

Meet Your Moombahtonistas (#2): Obeyah


You know that one moombahton track with the tribal drum patterns and that hypnotizing flute you hear everywhere from the moombahton compilations that takeover your stereo to the super sweaty moombahton parties?  Ahhh yes, “African Flute”.  You know the one.  And if you didn’t know, that’s an edit from one of DC’s own DJs and producers, OBEYAH.  Touting over 1800 downloads on SoundCloud as well as slots in DJ Sabo’s Moombahton Massive Mix and Brodinski’s European Introduction to Moombahton, “African Flute” has taken the moombahton game by storm.  Full disclosure:  it’s one of my favorite moombahton edits to date and it’s what propelled me into Obeyah’s world.

Known as Reed Griffith when he’s not behind the decks, Obeyah hails from Arlington, Virginia and he’s way more than “African Flute”.  Did you know he’s also a visual artist?  As a member of Urban Artistry, Obeyah works to promote the thriving culture of urban art and dance.  Most recently, he was showing off his graffiti talents at the International Soul Society Festival held a month ago in Arlington, Virginia.   This month he’ll have some technicolor graffiti pieces in the G40 art summit.  Promoting twenty artists and “sensory overload” (their words, not mine), the exhibit opens on May 19th and runs until June 17th, so you have a whole month to check out Obeyah’s work.

As seen everywhere from the walls to the dance floor, it’s clear that Obeyah is accessing so many areas of his creative abilities.  His talents as a DJ have landed him Regular Club nights in Atlanta and a residency in Panama.  Obviously, he is no stranger to the rest of this world.   But he’s still a big presence in the local scene and epicenter of moombahton, DC.  He’s running all sorts of dance floors from the little attic-like space at Little Miss Whiskeys to the two-floors of District to massive basement of U Street Music Hall.  His productions have gained popularity amongst the major players in the moombahton game, including its godfather, Dave Nada. Most notably, the mix he did for Dirty Sweaty Nasty’s Throbcast has also gained a lot of love, especially from MTV Iggy.  Pretty major!!  I’d grab that mix while ya still can and while you’re at it, check out the rest of his sounds over on his SoundCloud.
Rishi Romero (Obeyah Edit) Rain Forest by cool breezy

Check out a new edit from Obeyah called “Rain Forest”.  A currently unreleased track, “Rain Forest”, easily exemplifies the classic moombahton style with its tropical rhythms and mid-tempo, sexed up vibes.  A different kind of track as juxtaposed with Munchi’s moombahcore stylings, for example, “Rain Forest” is totally understated but keeps you on pace to move your hips and sweat your ass off in the name of moombahton.

If you like what you hear, there’s a good chance he’ll be invading your hood very soon!  He’s playing Philly’s very first moombahton party on Thursday, May 19th at the Walnut Room with Baltimore’s Uncle Jesse, and Philly’s own Philadelphyinz.  Friday night, he’s back home in DC and going head-to-head with The Baconator Himself, Reed Rothchild, at Little Miss Whiskeys (beware of the house drinks).  Then, on June 4th, he’s back in Atlanta for Buzz at Sutra.  Don’t miss him.  Go say what up to the dude!

Obeyah is way more than meets the eye and I want y’all to know him!  Check out the Q&A session we had where we talk about his fine art, playing moombahton for motorcyclists, and life without boundaries.


Cool Breezy:  Catch us up first.  How long have you been DJing and producing and what initially got you into the game?

Obeyah:  I have been DJing for about five years.  I just stepped into production so it’s really new to me.  I was inspired by the turntablist and hip-hop DJ’s from the late 90’s, like Q-bert and Roc Raida, so I went to a DMC competition at the Black Cat in DC.  Hearing turntablism live really made me want to learn how to DJ.

CB:  As a member of Urban Artistry, you play a heavy hand in art shows.  Just lately you’ve done work at the International Soul Society Festival in April and you’ll be doing more work at the G40 art show coming later this month.  What are you doing at these exhibitions?  I saw you doing some graffiti work.  How long have you been into that?

O:  Shout out to Urban Artistry, one of the most eclectic and original crews in the world!! I’m just starting to get back into visual art.  I have been creating art and putting graffiti on things since I was a kid.  DJing came second but I’m learning equally from both art forms.  I recently created costumes for an Urban Artistry show, “Digital Funk 2052”, which were recognized at the DC Dance Awards as the “Best Dance Performance Costumes of 2010”.  That got me motivated to start combining my music and visual art together.  Right now I’m working on producing the score for a dance-based production – it’s turning out to be a really interesting fusion of mediums and art forms.  Soul Society has been a huge part in that too.  As a DJ and an artist, this year I collaborated with Scotty 76 from Germany.  He is a huge part in the history of graffiti so it was a real honor to work with him.

CB:  What first attracted you to the moombahton genre and what about its community keeps you in the scene?

O:  I have always been into dancehall and electronic music – a lot of what I’m listening to right now is being influenced by a wider spectrum of global rhythms.  There aren’t too many new things in art or music, just new interpretations.  When moombahton dropped it was the perfect time for this genre to be accepted.  Before I heard moombahton, I felt that people were getting bored with club dance floors being taken over by 128 bpm music.  So when I first heard moombahton, I had no idea what I was listening to, all I heard was the energy it created.  [As] with most people involved with moombahton right now it’s about supporting new ideas.  I like being able to create without boundaries; right now this genre is like that.

CB:  Your schedule of events is very eclectic.  You just played a one-year-anniversary party for the motorcycle club, Ghost Ryderz.  Did you play moombahton for them?!

O:  Yeah, actually they wound up booking me off of a mix I did for DSN that had a lot of moombahton on it. There were people in there as far away as Canada and California. It was a really diverse crowd…yeah they get pretty live!

CB:  You’ve also got some shows coming up outside of the DMV area, namely in Philly and Atlanta. Have you played moombahton for crowds outside of the genre’s comfort zone of DC and if so, how do they take to it?

O:  I just recently got back from a DJ residency in Panama; I think that was the most surprising reaction I have had from any crowd.  I was on the island of Bocas Del Torro during the 2011 Carnivale parties; people were there from all around the world.  For most people it was their first time hearing moombahton, I could watch how people from different countries went in on tracks that were based on different rhythms like cumbia or dembow.  Also I think I’m just starting to realize how new this genre is for most people.  Just like doing anything with DJing, it’s all about timing.  I’ll be in Philly for Tropicalismo with Uncle Jesse on the 19th. It’s the first moombahton party in Philadelphia, so I’m looking forward to be breaking some ground up there.

CB:  Who’s one of your favorite moombahtonistas right now and why?

 O:  Dave Nada.  [Editor’s Note:  Dave Nada needs no explanation.]

CB:  Finally, any words of advice for present and future DJs and producers?

O:  TV will rot your brain.

Meet Your Moombahtonistas (#1): Billy the Gent


Real talk:  I rarely see this dude without a smile on his face.   BillyBennett, aka Billy the Gent, has a lot to be happy about though.  He just married the love of his life, has a little baby girl on the way, and is totally killin’ it in the moombahton game right now.   You’ve probably seen him around DC, inkin’ up you and your homies at Tattoo Paradise or hanging out at U Hall or DC9.  But hopefully you’ve even seen him playing maestro at the Velvet Lounge.

Billy and Cam Jus join forces once a month at Velvet for their monthly moombahton rager called Tropixxx, and trust me – it’s triple x’d for a reason.  I came through last month for the video shoot for “Pendejas” (the Tittsworth and Alvin Risk collaboration to be released on May 31st via Mad Decent’s Blow Your Head) and it was one of the wildest parties I’ve been to in a minute.  It was a late Sunday night, the forever-dreaded Monday morning was looming on the horizon, and nobody gave a shit.  Seriously, not a single shit.  Tittsworth, Alvin Risk, and some random, victimized barstool were crowd surfing in a room that’s no bigger than your attic.  Big booties were rockin’ everywhere to moombahton classics from Nadastrom, Munchi, Dillon Francis, and more.  Everybody was shakin’ dat ass so right that not a single person in there had a dry forehead.  Even the walls were sweating.  It was only appropriate that they cooled us down with showers of Natty Boh and tequila.  Looking up at times and seeing Billy and Cam orchestrating the madness, I had to ask myself, “Is this real life?”  And indeed it was.  This was all happening in the name of moombahton and it felt so right.

Tropixxx feels like Moombahton Mini, the golden child of Moombahton Massive.  Let’s face it – we can’t have a regular Moombahton Massive because DC might implode from too much bass and we kinda need the Nation’s Capital around to run shit.  But, have no fear – Tropixxx is here!  One Sunday a month, Billy and Cam bring us all together at Velvet so we can get our moombahton fix in the same venue where Dave Nada, the godfather of moombahton, held “Moombahton Mondays”.  Together they have succeeded in keeping the regular celebration of moombahton alive and well in the DMV area.

On an individual level, Billy is constantly evolving as a moombahton producer.  His earlier tracks have this sexy, Latin vibe to them – a classic moombahton feel (see “Sillyana” and “La Mania”).  Some even have a really smooth house groove to them  (see “Home Grown” and “Latin Love Theme”).  But lately, his tracks have taken on more of an aggressive style of moombahton, incorporating elements of dubstep and often treading the line between classic moombahton and its subgenre, moombahcore (see “Munchicore VIP” and “Turn Up the Volume”).  Run through Billy’s SoundCloud and you’ll see he’s got something for every kind of moombahton fan out there.  The man knows how to take care of his people, ya know what I mean?!

Now he’s got something for the hip-hoppers with today’s release of the Vibrate Chick EP, a joint escapade with Virginia’s Long Jawns and Miami’s JWLS.  Imagine some serious crunk vibes and hip-hop vocals layered over moombahton beats.  If you’re imagining something like a Ludacris video with a ton of scantily clad Latinas in 1970 Chevelles with ridiculous hydraulics cruisin’ down U Street…you’re almost there.  But don’t just take my word for it – go check it out for yourself and download the free EP at  You’ll be handsomely rewarded with Dirty South-meets-moombahton swag.  You’ll need it to complete your summer.  It’s lookin’ to be a hot one.  ;)  And if you like what you hear, check him out at the next Dirty Sweaty Nasty Party on May 13th in Fairfax, VA.

But before you leave me, I want you to get to know Billy on a more personal level.  Seriously, moombahton has recruited a really great dude.  He was awesome enough to answer a few questions for me about the making of the Vibrate Chick EP, the Brotherhood of Moombahton, and one of his best dudes, Dave Nada.


Cool Breezy:  First, just for the people who don’t know yet, when did you start DJing and producing and what inspired you to get into the scene?  What were you playing before moombahton?

Billy the Gent:  I started DJing in 2009.  My good friend DJ Tom Lim gave me a few quick turntable lessons about an hour before our first party.  I didn’t really know what I was doing but I knew I wanted to play music.  I threw a couple local parties over the next couple years and I basically learned how to mix tracks by playing live, which if you were at any of those parties, you would know that it was pretty horrible…HA!   Anyways, I made a lot of friends in the DJ community [who] helped me out along the way to try and lock down good mixing techniques and such but I think I will always feel like I could be a better DJ.  I mostly learned how to spin hip-hop and Top 40 tracks, and then moved onto the dubstep scene and now its MOOMBAHTON!

As far as producing goes, I’ve been making music in some way or another since as long as I can remember.  When I lived in Richmond, I played in countless indie bands and punk bands.  I learned to play the drums from my older brother, Champ Bennett (yes, his real name!), when we were kids and since then, I’ve been playing music.   What got me into producing music is more or less the fact that I don’t have time for a band anymore!  Hah.  I work as a full-time tattoo artist at Tattoo Paradise here in DC and it’s a major part of my life.  So because I’m so involved with tattooing, producing music off of my computer gives me the opportunity to make music whenever I feel like – there is no organizing band practices or dealing with the hassle of gear, or anything like that…just me and my studio.

CB:  What was it about moombahton that attracted you to the scene?

BTG:  I got into moombahton via one of my best pals (and creator of moombahton!) DAVID ORLANDO VILLEGAS [aka] Dave Nada.  We all know Dave’s story of how he stumbled onto this whole thing.  But I think I got into it mostly because it was more or less a fresh genre of music.  I really like the tempo and the appeal of moombahton and I think I was drawn to it by the sheer fact that there was hardly any of it around.  I mean, my first moombahton crate had about fifteen tracks in it, so I got inspired to make all these edits and stuff.  But now that the edit game is sorta flooded, I’m working more on making original stuff.

CB:  How did the Tropixxx collaboration with Cam Jus begin and what was it like being a part of Moombahton Massive Tres?

BTG:  It’s kinda funny.  Cam asked me to play this party he was doing, and I didn’t really know much about it.  I just knew I was allowed to play moombahton there, so I said “sure”…and the first one we did popped off really big, so we decided to keep it going.  Since then, every single Tropixxx has been better than the one before it and I can’t wait to see where it goes from here.  We had the Toronto-based duo TORRO TORRO play one of them and the party before last TITTSWORTH and ALVIN RISK filmed the video for their latest moombahton hit “PENDEJAS”.  It’s been great.

Being a part of the Moombahton Massive was amazing.  One of the cool things about this genre is the camaraderie involved in it.  For the most part, everyone is trying to help everyone, whether its sharing tracks, asking for opinions, throwing each other’s tracks on mixes or whatever it is – people are looking out for each other.  A great example of that was the whole reason behind the Moombahton Massive Tres – to help one of my favorite producers, MUNCHI.  As many of you know, Munchi had some health issues while he was traveling and needed money for bills, flights, etc. and when Dave came to me, Cam, Obeyah, Jon Kwest, DJ Ayers, and Uncle Jesse about doing a benefit for him, EVERYONE was down and that’s kinda what I’m saying.  When I was playing in bands and stuff, there was a lot of jealousy and backstabbing, but the dance music scene and in particular, the moombahton scene seems to be very supportive.  It’s really cool.

CB:  Describe the creative process for the Vibrate Chick EP and what was it like working with Long Jawns and JWLS?

BTG:  Ok, Long [Jawns] and I have been linking up and working of tracks for a while now.  We were mostly working on house tracks and stuff like that, but [during] one session we sat down for, Long had played me a moombahton track he had started.  I knew right away we had to finish it – it was really good.   I told him it reminded me of some of the tracks that I’ve heard by this dude named “JWLS” from Miami.  He gave me this look and said, “That’s funny you say that cause it was a big inspiration for this track!”  So we finished that track up and sent it over to JWLS for input and he instantly hit us back and asked if he could do a remix of it…and obviously we said “yes.”   So that explains the first two tracks of this EP.  The third one was a track that I had started working on and sort of hit a brick wall with.  I let it sit for a while and came back to it and realized that I should finish it.  I tested it out at the Massive Tres and it sounded great.  So meanwhile, me, Long and JWLS are sitting on these two tracks (“vibrate/vibrate remix”) and I thought,  “I should just hit JWLS up to help me finish this ‘Chick like me’ track and then we should put all 3 of the songs out as an EP!”   So in some way or another, we all had something to do with all the tracks – it’s pretty cool.   I don’t think many people do stuff like this, especially with moombahton.

CB:  It might be really hard to choose, but who’s your favorite moombahtonista right now and why?

BTG:  Probably Jon Kwest.  That dude puts in a lot of work, always has fresh mixes, tracks, and seems to constantly be trying to push the sound.  I think he probably holds the record for most moombahton songs finished too…hahaha.

CB:  Finally, congratulations on your marriage!  Just curious…did moombahton have a presence during your wedding?

THANKS!   Being married is awesome and believe it or not, my wife’s dad wore his MOOMBAHTON shirt to the wedding under his suit. NO lie. Dave took a picture of it and put it on his twitter, I believe.  It was pretty awesome.