INTERVIEW: Bomba Estéreo

Beloved Colombian music makers Bomba Estéreo are currently touring the U.S. promoting their latest album, Amanecer. The album, currently available on iTunes and other platforms, has been receiving rave reviews – and is certainly top on my list of summer music and favorite albums of the year.

The band has just a few more stops on the U.S. leg of their tour, and will make their final U.S. stop in Chicago before heading off to Mexico and South America. Luckily for us Chicagoland-dwellers, there are still tickets available for their show, which will place this Sunday, July 26, at the Concord Music Hall.

Amidst the whirlwind of Bomba’s touring mayhem, I was able to chat for a few minutes with band leader and bassist Simón Mejía as he was boarding the plane to New York.

Note: interview has been translated from Spanish and edited for length.

“The tour has been going really well, so far,” Simón said. “We have had good response and have been playing lots of sold out shows and are glad to be promoting the new album.” Regarding the upcoming Chicago show specifically he added, “The venue is much bigger in Chicago so it requires more effort to sell out that venue. Hopefully we do.” Even though there are still tickets available, we Gozadores would not be surprised if the show were to sell out well before the concert date, as our writer, Sandra, mentioned in her promo of the show.

Being on tour in promotion of Amanecer, we can expect Bomba Estéreo to focus on tracks from that album, while indulging us in some older favorites. Simón mentioned that several of their favorite songs to play are new ones, such as the love anthem and second single from Amanecer,  “Somos Dos,” and my current summer jam, “Caderas.”

These two songs exemplify the range of moods and styles that Amanecer gives its listeneners: bangers pa’ ponernos bomb on one end, and sweet, slower, more intimate songs on the other.

“This is a more mature album and it shows how we have grown as people and in how we have come to use different styles of music. Still, It’s an album with a lot of cumbia like those in the past,” Simón said. “It [is] about what we experience individually, internally, like love, because those are the things that are shaping our lives.”

When discussing other external inspirations for the album, Simón pointed to the variety of music the group listens to, especially worldwide electronic music, tropical and other artists they see on the vanguard. Such artistic influences culminates beautifully with songwriting prowness on on tracks like “Fiesta.”

Also obvious in the music video for “Fiesta” are the aesthetics and style that Bomba Estéreo is coming to be known for, as expressed in clothing and colors. Simón said that the group works on that themselves, taking inspriation from a variety sources; everything from fine art and visual art to fashion and film, experimenting with them and reckoning them with their own Colombian, costeña culture and language. These awareness and focus on these kinds of details and their creative culmination in Bomba’s music videos make me excited for the energy and production the band will have in store for us during lives shows.

Since their tour has been so extensive, Simón mentioned that the band has only had a little bit of free time on their travels, due to the strenuous schedule. “We may have had one day, enough to see a little, but [it is difficult] when you have eight shows in twelve days,” he said. “My birthday just passed on July 18 and [we were able to celebrate that, but not] Colombia’s independence day [on the 20th].” Bomba Estéreo’s tour will take them back home to Colombia next month, so maybe a belated celebration will be in the cards for them.