Discovery: Bomba Estéreo

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Published November 16, 2010

 

BOMBA ESTÉREO: SIMÓN MEJÍA (LEFT) AND LILIANA SAUMETPHOTO COURTESY OF HECTOR MORA

There was a fairly serious tornado warning for Brooklyn on the night I saw Bomba Estéreo perform in Prospect Park over the summer. The wind was strong and the rain fell hard, but no one left. The medical community may have failed to recognize the physical and emotional distress that results from the prolonged stasis of the waist and the hips, but I can assure you it exists and it has reached the levels of a pandemic. Affected individuals were going to get their dancing in, and tornado warnings were simply promises of acceleration at a show that guaranteed movement.

Bomba Estéreo combines typical Colombian sounds of cumbia, salsa, and champeta with reggae, hip-hop, and psychedelic rock, resulting in 2009’s Blow Up, a record that manages to sound like both the New York streets and the Colombian coast—think sex and pyrotechnics synchronized to happen concurrently on two continents. After opening for M.I.A. in Europe, Liliana Saumet (vocals) and Simón Mejía (bassist, producer, genius) took a break from their world tour to say hello.

HOW THEIR SOUND CAME ABOUT: It was an impulse that I [Simón] had in my home studio while experimenting with sounds and mixes that came together. It should be noted that this influence came from Bogotá’s DJ Fresh, who had been doing this blending of tropical and popular music with hip-hop and turntable beats since the ’90s.

WHO’S THE BETTER DANCER?: Liliana, obviously—she’s from the coast! I also have my swing but not as much hip.SIMÓN’S DREAM SUPERGROUP: Bob Marley, David Gilmour, John Bonham, David Bowie, Brian Eno.

LILIANA’S DREAM SUPERGROUP: Simón Mejía, Enrique Egurrola and Julian Salazar. If I stick in Thom Yorke and Michael Jackson and everyone else I like, it would be something else entirely. I can’t imagine them playing together.

IF YOU COULD LISTEN TO ONLY ONE SONG FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE…: Joe Arroyo’s “La Noche” or anything by Michael Jackson [for Liliana]. “Mother” by Pink Floyd [for Simón].

SIMÓN’S FIRST KISS: During school in a mini teca, those were the parties we used to have. You would hire a DJ with a sound system and lights, and they would put the party together in the multipurpose room in your building or house.

LILIANA’S FIRST KISS: I was 10 and it was horrible. I didn’t like the kid, it was a penance, and I almost threw up. It’s not the best memory—actually, I don’t know that it was my first kiss but it’s the first kiss I remember.

WHAT DO YOU DO WITH THE PIECES OF A BROKEN HEART?: Pick them up, try to put them back together and write a song about it.

LILIANA’S ADVICE FOR HER 15-YEAR-OLD SELF: Girl, stop fighting with your mother!

LAST THOUGHT BEFORE FALLING ASLEEP: I shouldn’t have drunk that much.

BOMBA ESTÉRREO WILL CONTINUE THEIR WORLD TOUR THROUGH THE END OF THE YEAR. FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE BAND, VISIT THEIR MYSPACE.