Interview: Bomba Estereo

Bomba Estereo performs at Mayne Stage (1328 W. Morse Avenue) on Monday, April 15 and will be joined by Chicago artists Los Vicios de PapaSoulphonetics and Sound CultureTickets available here.

Bomba Estereo’s warm weathered tropical groove arrived in the US around 2009 to the beat of frenzied electronic champeta hip-hop. Audiences were unable to resist the impact of spit vixen Liliana Saumet‘s lyrical ingenuity or Simon Mejia‘s insight of Colombia’s underground electronic scene. Currently on tour across the US in promotion of their third album, Elegancia Tropical (Polen Records).

We were able to speak to Saumet for a few minutes via phone as their tour bus took them toward Seattle’s Tractor Tavern. We love that they refer to this particular venue in their blog wondering, almost in awe, of how many grunge bands had played that venue before Elegancia Tropical arrived. It’s an endearing trait that hasn’t left them since they began in 2005.

Saumet explains that Elegancia Tropical is different from its predecessors because of its relaxed attitude. “This album is more mature. It’s definitely a lot more introspective, more internal than external. We enjoyed this new process and even though it’s a lot calmer, it didn’t change the energetic shows we’re known for. That’s still there,” she says. The album captures this duality throughout the eleven tracks reflecting their contemplative nature as well as their coastal energy.

When asked about her particular word flow style, she doesn’t have a specific influential reference. “I’ve always enjoyed rapping about things that happen to us, around us, stories we learn. It’s something I’ve always liked to do, that form of expression especially, rapping… I just like it,” she says. Aside from the hip hop element, which she explained came from their love of 80s music, her down-to-earth vocal approach is a perfect contrast to the band’s Afro-Caribbean grooves.

“The album was practically recorded on the road. We created things as we toured. We were finally able to record this near the ocean, practically beach-side,” she explains. Before hitting the studio, the band successfully made their music heard through extensive tours across the Czech Republic, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, U.K and Spain as well as at major music festivals across the world. Most of their shows are guaranteed to be sold out as we witnessed first-hand in Chicago when they performed at Empty Bottle, leaving dozens of disappointed people waiting outside for a chance to see the Bogota natives.

“We have so much more to share this time. We’ve learned so much and experienced so much on our travels. But yes, touring is exhausting, uncomfortable and leaves you with little time to do much of anything,” says Saumet when we ask about the downside of so many performances. “But we love the energy we get from sharing our music with new audiences. This new album is another opportunity for us to show how much we love what we do.”
Elegancia Tropical is a multi-layered musical expression of the new sounds and reflections this group of Colombian musicians has amassed since their debut. Along with Blow Up (Nacional Records) and previous Mejia releases, it’s exhilarating to watch the band’s evolution and global expansion.

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