Juan David Rubio Restrepo

Assistant Professor, Ethnomusicology and Integrative Studies

Department of Music


I am an artist/scholar focusing on Latin American popular musics and global experimental practices. My book project considers Ecuadorian singer Julio Jaramillo (1935-1978). Using a transnational and comparative lens, the book analyses Jaramillo’s vocality, prolific discography, mediatized figure, and Pan-American career to query how alterity, media capitalism, sound technologies, and power intertwined in the Spanish-speaking Americas of the second half of the 20th century. Following the politics of circulation of Jaramillo’s voice and figure, I analyze a heterogenous archive to unearth racial regimes that go with and against the grain of the mestizaje ideology sedimented throughout Latin America. How Jaramillo is listened to and transduced across textualities and media formats, I suggest, unveils regimes of difference that exist within a discursively post-racial order.

In this project, and across my scholarship, I use various methods including on-site and digital ethnography, oral histories, archival work in public and private collections, collaborative research, and performance-based inquiry. I have published in English and Spanish on cumbia practices in the 20 th and 21 st centuries, histories of the drum kit and its performers, critical accounts of collectors and collectionism, and performing collaborative research. In these works, the intersection between sound, geographical place, difference, and circulation is an ongoing concern. My theoretical approach is influenced by and aims to put in dialogue a wide array of intellectual genealogies from different geographies, with a particular interest on thinkers of color working on/from the global south.

My work on experimental practices dialogues with my artistic background. Stemming from this line of research have been projects and writings on networked performance (telematics) and its affordances; technical, ontological, and ethical issues around robotic/AI music-making, embodiment, and human-machinic collaborations; and experimental pedagogies through digital technologies. Central to these works is how the category of the human (from Eurocentric and decolonial perspectives) and the threshold from his non-human others emerges in practices that intertwine sound and media technologies.

Originally a drummer, I have performed for over two decades, mostly on drum kit. My instrumental practice spans jazz, improvisation, punk, contemporary music, and Afro-Latin musics, among others. As a performer and composer, I have produced works for multi- and inter- media settings, electroacoustic pieces, and non-traditionally notated compositions. Improvisation, and its ontological relation with composition, have been a sustained interest that I have pursued as an improviser and conductor for improver ensembles. For the past decade, I have also performed, composed, and produced telematic performances and workshops with collaborators in America, Europe, and Asia.

Similar to my background and research, my teaching is deeply undisciplinary and touches on most of the interests listed above. I have taught practice-based, survey, and theoretical courses on subjects that span Latin American musics, sound technologies, and genealogies of listening. I consider sound (and its theoretical components per the Western musical canon) inherent to and indivisible from how power, difference, and resistance is lived and negotiated. In the classroom, I am particularly interested in presenting music and sound from a holistic perspective, building collaborative and alternative approaches to understand and study them, and mobilizing the embodied knowledge we all have as intrinsic listeners and sound-makers. I hold a Bachelor of Music with an emphasis on Jazz Studies and Drum Kit Performance from the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana (Bogotá, Colombia), a Master of Fine Arts in Music from the Integrated Composition Improvisation and Technology (ICIT) program at the University of California, Irvine, and a Ph.D. in Music with a focus on Integrative Studies from the University of California, San Diego. Before my appointment at UC Berkeley, I was Assistant Professor of Music and Chicano Studies at the University of Texas at El Paso.