Bomba Estéreo is a cumbia, electronic duo that consists of Li Saumet and Simón Mejía based in Bogota, Colombia. They started their musical career in 2005 and they’ve already released five studio albums. They made many collaborations with artists from all over the world, such us Balkan Beat Box, SOFI TUKKER and Systema Solar.
SounDarts.gr discussed with the founder and musical director of Bomba Estéreo, Simón Mejía, and we’ve found out their musical inspirations and influences. What changes have been made in their sound from their beginning till today? What is Mejía’s opinion about the Spanish language that Bomba Estéreo uses in their songs?
Also, Arcade Fire is one of their favorite bands, as they have already collaborated with them and they had gotten to know each other a bit. What helped Bomba Estéreo shape their character? What are their future, professional plans?
Read the whole interview below!
Hello B.E. and welcome to SounDarts.gr. How would you describe Bomba Estéreo’s sound to someone in Greece who never listened to it before?
It’s a mix of electronic music and tropical rhythms especially from Colombia’s Caribbean coast. We are a duo, Li Saumet (singer) and Simón Mejía (producer), but on stage is a 5 piece live band.
Your first album “Volumen 1” was released in 2006 and your latest one, “Ayo” in 2017. In what ways has your sound evolved through these eleven years?
We have found our own style that basically comes from mixing styles. We have become more aware also of the power of music and the message it carries to people. Every album has been experimentation around our root idea which is blending electrónica with Latin culture.
Cumbia is an element that is always present in your song writing! Do you ever feel the need to explore other Latin genres and combine them with more modern ones, too?
We have been exploring more styles beyond cumbia after our second album, “Estalla”, which was mainly al electronic cumbia album. Nowadays, cumbia persists but in a more conceptual way. Style has evolved a lot.
All of your songs are written in Spanish. Is it something that helps you express easier as artists? Still, would you consider writing lyrics in English?
Maybe Spanglish, which is a cool mix you hear all over the streets where Latin immigrants live. We like how Spanish is breaking barriers today. We grew up listening mainly to Anglo music as it was the mainstream for culture. But now energies are shifting and perhaps new languages and music from different places are beginning to be the mainstream.
What inspires you the most to write your songs?
Love, nature, life itself. And the power of dancing.
Could you name a few artists that have inspired you to create your sound?
There are many, just to mention some, Daft Punk, Pink Floyd, Chemical Brothers, Nortec and Joe Arroyo.
Your latest video “Amar Así”, focuses on the love growing between two men. Do you feel the need to pass fragile messages through your music videos too? What is your relationship with visuals?
Music is a strong channel of communication and when it can be used for good purposes or to change how people see things is great. We come from visual formation, I’m a visual artist, so visual is in the same level as sound to me. And we are deeply involved in how it develops in the band.
Is there a song that you have written, that holds a special place in your heart and why?
Every album cause it reflects an era of your life. But my favorite is “Bosque”, from “Elegancia Tropical”, as it’s a totally different mood song from the common Bomba music and I did it in a very special place in the world, a natural park outside San Francisco with one of the hugest trees on earth.
In the past you have collaborated with great names of the international music scene such as Will Smith and Arcade Fire. Which one was the most important to your career so far and why?
I love Arcade Fire as we toured together, got to know each other a bit, and was an amazing and very different space for us.
Are there any other artists that you would like to collaborate with?
Daft Punk, Radiohead, Bonobo, Caribou.
Is there anything in your life and music that gives you strength and helped you shape your characters?
Traveling and being able to adapt fast and easy to different situations and places has made me a stronger person.
What is Bomba Estéreo’s biggest dream in their musical career?
Have some kind of real social impact in Colombia through projects parallel to music. We’re kind of making it through our environmental campaigns.
Have you ever visited Greece? What are your thoughts about our country?
Yes once and it’s one of the most beautiful places in the world. Went with my wife for vacations at Paros Island and we always remember with so much love.
Do you believe that the new way of promoting new music over the internet is actually helping the artists or is it a trap?
Totally helping and fortunately in the future avoiding third parties or unnecessary intermediaries. For me it’s the most democratic way of spreading the music. No need for radio, tv or press promoters eventually.
What are your next business plans? Is there any chance we will hear the follow-up of “Ayo”?
A few shows on 2019. New album on 2020 which we are currently making.
What is your motto in life?
Believe in yourself, love yourself. Be kind to others.
Interview: Theodore Kolliopoulos