Curator Story

Oscar Arroyo

Specialist in: Latin American, Spanish, Cumbia & fitness

Oscar was born and grew up in Mexico City, where Latin and cumbia rhythms were part of every day life, at street markets, family parties and generally all over. He moved to London in 2007, where he started curating music for Chilango in London and has since moved to Open Ear where he's in charge of cumbia, nu cumbia and tropical music for clients such as Wahaca; he also works with sound for fitness such as curating downtempo and ambient music for yoga clients.

Case Study

“Big thanks to Open Ear. The app they developed for us has been a big success and response from our customers fantastic. Heroes!”

Max HendersonCo-founder, Hotpod Yoga

"An algorithm will never be able to replace a human, for example algorithms can't consider current social context of a track or artist."

An interview with Oscar

Let’s start from the beginning - please introduce yourself and give us a background to your life in music...

I'm originally from Mexico City where I lived for 30 years until I moved to London. I started to work for Open Ear Music four years ago and I'm in charge of the operations of the company. I curate the Latin American, Spanish and fitness playlists.

I've had a passion for music all my life. The first tape I bought with my own money was Fine Young Cannibals' 'The Raw and The Cooked' which included the hit 'She Drives Me Crazy'. I was into rock music during my adolescence and I used to play the drums. I then discovered electronic music that I could relate to with bands like Nine Inch Nails, Ministry, and David Bowie’s 'Earthling' album.

At the age of 24 I swapped the drums for turntables and began DJing in clubs and bars in Mexico City, playing house, electro-house and nu-disco.

Do you remember what music inspired you at an early age? And perhaps a few tracks that inspired you to start a career in music?

Disco inspired me to be curious about music and look for new music/sounds. My parents didn't listen to disco so every time I could, I would get in my youngest uncle's car so I could listen to it. He would always be playing this type of music.

Is there one area of music you specialise in i.e. genre or scene that you are particularly close to?

Latin American music and music for fitness too.

What are your favourite places, sources, sites, radio shows or people to discover new music?

I use social media to keep up with music releases/novelties. I also find recommendations from artists that I like and who are experts in niche musical styles are an excellent way to discover new projects: I recently found out about Baiuca after Chancha Via Circuito's recommendation on Facebook.

Talk to us about your approach to music playlist curation, do you have some key do’s and dont's?

Be proud of any playlist you do, one day you might have to defend it or a client will question it!

How is playlisting for brands different than playlisting at home or for personal listening on-the-go?

Very different. Playlisting for brands/business is about using your knowledge and experience, not only your taste in music.

What are your thoughts on computer algorithms shaping the future of music curation?

Simple: an algorithm will never be able to replace a human. For example, algorithms can't consider current social context of a track or artist.

Oscar also curates for

Sports Direct