Bomba Estéreo have released their new EP Tierra. The songs preview Deja, the band’s long-awaited first album in 4 years. Find the EP here.
Tierra features three new songs, including “Conexion Total,” a collaboration with Nigerian superstar Yemi Alade. “Collaborating with Yemi is a huge honor as our music has been deeply inspired by Africa in all senses since we started,” says Bomba Estéreo‘s founder Simón Mejía. “Colombia’s folk music owes a lot to the mother continent, that powerful mix of African drums and marimbas, with indigenous flutes and chants is the base of the incredible soundscape of this country. Yemi is a great artist and has an amazing voice. We’re really happy to keep on extending the cultural and ancestral ties that bond Africa with South America.“
“I was very excited when Bomba Estéreo contacted us,” Yemi shares. “For real, the collaborations between Africa and Latin America are too few, and one can say almost non-existent. I immediately accepted, I was blown away by the idea of exporting my African urban culture to the Latin world and promoting Latin American culture in Africa. It’s like a homecoming. This type of experience is unique and shows us how music knows no borders.”
The album Deja is divided conceptually into four sections that correspond to the earth’s four elements: Agua, Aire, Tierra, and Fuego. “The album is about the connection and disconnection of human beings—from the planet, from one’s own self,” Bomba‘s vocalist Liliana “Li” Saumet says. “It’s about how we’re disconnected, more connected to electronic devices and virtual things than real things. So, we decided to use the four elements, because they’re part of the equilibrium of human beings.”
Bomba Estéreo, whose core members are beatmaster/composer Simón and vocalist/lyricist Li, have been a major force in the alternative/Caribbeat/dance scene since 2010’s smash hit “Fuego.” The duo has released the Latin GRAMMY-nominated Elegancia Tropical (2013), GRAMMY-nominated Amanecer (2015), and GRAMMY-nominated Ayo (2017) have put them at the forefront of influential hybrid-beat bands, as well as blowing up dancehalls from New York to Paris to Tokyo.
For Deja, Simón and Li wanted to make the album more of a “community” effort. Simón found increasing chemistry playing live shows with guitarist José Castillo and the folkloric percussion of Efrain “Pacho” Cuadrado. Li recruited her longtime friend Lido Pimienta for the session – the pair’s previous collaboration “Nada” ended up on President Obama’s “Best of 2020” playlist.
“I wanted to collaborate with Lido to try new sounds with my voice,” Li explains. “She has that underground edge that I like, and she also invited some Cuban collaborators with her, a duo named OKAN. It was beautiful to have more women with me, I felt more supported, safer and at ease.”
This time, the band decided to self-produce the album (outside of a couple of invited guest producers like Trooko) and constructed a makeshift studio in Li’s home in Santa Marta. “We all wound up there and we made an album that has some of the best of classic Bomba, like Elegancia Tropical, and a lot of new composing elements that José and Pacho brought,” Simón said. The pandemic’s delaying effects also gave the band plenty of time to produce and mix Deja with a major assist from Damian Taylor.
Deja is one of those albums that, even in its disparate sections, forms a unity. It’s an album that transmits joy, loss, exhilaration, and sadness all at once. “Some heavy things are happening to the world, and we have to share them,” Li says. “We made this album so you can dance to it at a club, but at the same time it has a profound meaning. It’s meant for you to dance perreo with a conscience.”
Adriana Chavez is the editor for Vacancy. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org