Billboard: The 'Breaking Bad' Synch That Broke Open ZZK Records

January 16, 2019


"The Buenos Aires label specializing in digital cumbia is moving to Los Angeles in 2019. In the final season of AMC’s Breaking Bad, a desperate Walter White drives a white van into the desert in New Mexico, where he buries barrel after barrel of money in the dirt, meticulously noting the GPS coordinates.


The song playing in the background is a remix of Argentine folk singer Jose Larralde’s version of “Quimey Neuquén” (Beautiful Neuquén). It was created by Pedro Canale, also known as Chancha Via Circuito, an Argentine artist who became a symbol of the “digital cumbia” genre that has defined ZZK Records, a Buenos Aires-based label.


The show’s use of Canale’s slow-rolling, tribal drum-infused track set off a behind-the-scenes struggle with Sony over music rights. But the remix also put then-struggling ZZK on the global music map -- demonstrating that, in the digital age of streaming, a major synch can transform the fortunes of an indie label.


“All of a sudden Breaking Bad happened and Chancha became a star in Argentina, known for that scene [in the desert],” Grant Dull, the label’s founder, said recently in Rio de Janeiro. “For Chancha, it was a before and an after.”


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