INTERVIEW: Bomba Estereo


Bomba Estereo

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015

We had the opportunity to sit down with Bomba Estereo and see what has been going on in their world. The group is from Bogotá, Colombia in 2005 by Simón Mejía. Their music has been described as “electro tropical”. We talk with them about their new reocrd “Fiesta,” which is nominated for a Latin Grammy in the record of the year category, is an uptempo dance track equally laced with loops and electronica and with traditional Colombian beats. The new remix adds Will Smith’s rapping — in English and Spanish — to the mix. A music video was already released in Los Angeles and will be released soon

So I want to talk about the music with you guys because you’re actually in a couple of weeks going down to Vegas for the Latin Grammy’s because you guys are nominated for record of the year and song of the year.


SIMON: We’re nominated for the record of the year and alternative album.  It’s [our] second nomination, like two years ago we were nominated but only for alternative album of the year.


How excited are you guys to be playing [at the Latin Grammys]?  Are there butterflies, are you nervous about playing?  


SIMON:  Yeah, especially well… it’s a show and everything and we’re pretty much accustomed to the shows, but this one especially is a show with Will Smith so there a little bit of butterfiles.


LILIANA: Primetime! (laughs)


SIMON:  Primetime with Will Smith, it’s something that doesn’t happen daily, you know?


You guys have pulled Will Smith out from wherever he’s been hiding for the last 10 years in terms of music.


SIMON: He wasn’t hiding.  He was doing lots of…


LILIANA:  He was living!  Living life!  People do that sometimes.  You forget that, but people need to do that.


So what drew him into this world? Like, to me that’s a pretty big deal that here he is featured on a record that.. I mean it’s been years since Will Smith has put out anything musically.


SIMON:  It’s music itself, and music made in Colombia.  I think Colombian music has something very special in the world scene, that is.  Our music and our traditional music is really danceable music.  And nowadays the, I don’t know… the main trend is around dance music, no?  So, we’ve been doing dance music in Colombia since centuries ago, no?  And because we have all this African influence and everything our music is dance since centuries ago.  So it’s very attaching, when you listen, and it’s very powerful and we think that maybe he perceived that, no?  And it’s fresh also.


In terms of you guys’ sound, there has been several different ways that people have described your sound.  How do you guys describe your own sound?


SIMON:  I think it’s a blend between two worlds.  Our tradition folk music, like our Caribbean music, that is Cumbia and all the music inspired by the African tradition and Indigenous tradition and where that world meets the electronic dance music world.  Where that blends.  When we put it in a live context, it has a little bit more elements.  It has a little bit of rock elements, and hip hop that is basically where our traditional dance culture blends with the global dance culture.


LILIANA:  I think it’s like, new Latin American music.  It’s not like, so specific, like Salsa or Reggaeton, or Merengue that people feel [it’s from] their country the so other cultures can’t understand or dance.  We mix so much stuff, and the people can understand some stuff, so you maybe don’t understand Spanish but you can dance because it’s electronic. But you have Cumbia and you have Champeta, but this is mixed with other things so that people can understand this because Bomba Estereo think it’s a more global new Latin American music.  More alternative, or something like that.  


You’ve been working together for 10 years.  How did this all come about originally?  How did you guys meet?


SIMON:  We met in Bogota.


LILIANA: In a party. (laughs)


SIMON:  Yeah in a concert.  Liliana had her band and I had my band and I was beginning to search around this particular sound, no?  I was trying to start a band around this sound.  When I listened to her singing, I thought it was the perfect fit for the music.  She also listened to my music and thought it was the perfect fit for her singing.  So it was an instant blend.  And since then we began making music and more than making music, like playing live together because we met and like two weeks pass and they were inviting us to festivals and everything so the wheels started to…turning, simply…  now ten years have passed and we’ve done four albums, well… we have Will Smith is in the house! (laughs)


We want to go to [the remix of] Fiesta featuring Will Smith.  Anything to mention about this record, anything to talk about, before we play it?


SIMON:  It was the first single of the album.  We released it without the Will Smith collaboration and everything.  And it’s interesting because he jumped into the song… it’s the same song, you know?  But we just have this coloration, and he was very respectful around… respecting the music that we did in the album and he was just doing something else for the song.  So it was really special.


LILIANA:  The song is the best example of Bomba Estereo making music.  This is like Carnaval de Barranquilla.  Some club in LA saw this as really Colombian, but really global music.  This is the best example in the [album].  You can understand what Bomba Estereo is [from this record].

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