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Bomba Estéreo

Party Time

Apr 11, 2015 Bomba Estéreo
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Every year, right before Lent, a period of time when the Catholic Church advocates austerity in observance of the upcoming Easter season, Colombia throws an epic party. As Bomba Estéreo founder Simón Mejía explains, Carnaval de Barranquilla has its roots in Mardi Gras. But the event also has a different, artier bent.

“The music happens in small towns all over Colombia,” Mejía says. “We kind of have a little bit of carnival throughout Colombia, where you can go and see and listen to this music that doesn’t happen on the radio.”

It’s an event that seems like a Mecca for anyone with travel and music on the brain. Mejía doesn’t disagree. Even across the crackly cell phone connection, it’s clear he’s smiling at the thought.

“Yeah,” he replies, emphatically. “It’s cool!”

That’s the outpouring of joy that Mejía and bandmate/vocalist Liliana Saumet sought to bring to their new, appropriately-named single, “Fiesta.” What starts as a playful guitar and percussion-based tropical groove quickly evolves into a full-fledged dance track; compete with EDM-style drops and scratches. Sure, it’s the perfect soundtrack to getting down. But it’s not just the party that Bomba Estéreo is trying to start. Peppered with encouraging phrases to remind people to look beyond the bright lights, including the telling, “No necesitamos más” (“we don’t need more”) the song, they say, is a call not only to party, to but think a bit bigger.

“Dancing is our new ritual in modern society,” Mejía muses. “It was a ritual, dancing to the drums and everything. Now we have a little bit of that. But we lost a little bit of our way with the ritual.”

The idea of music’s “other,” almost mystical power, is one that Mejía takes very seriously. Entering their tenth year together as a band, he says that it never surprises him how far Bomba Estéreo has come. From being that local group that became known for combining analogue instrument with synths, to leaving his country for the first time to tour, it’s been quite a ride—one that doesn’t look like it’ll slow down any time soon. Just the very fact they have fans in places where Spanish isn’t spoken still seems incredible.

“They cannot connect to the language, it’s through the music and sounds,” he says. “It’s a universal language immersed in the music itself and immersed in Liliana’s attitude when she sings. She expresses it with her body what they cannot understand in words. So I think that connection is beyond language and is very interested. We share our energy and people understand what we’re talking about through sound. When you’re a musician or an artist you can have an idea of your music…But when you give it to the audience, people make their own idea about your music. So it grows. It’s beautiful that people feel what you leave in the lyrics and bring their own experiences or their own thoughts. Music becomes more about sharing between you and the people. I find that very, very special.”



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