ACL Music Fest Sunday Interviews
Stretching cumbia from Bollywood to Belgian disco-pop
Bomba Estéreo4:30pm, Vista Equity stage
"It's a very fertile moment for music," posits Simón Mejía, founder of Bomba Estéreo. "Music today, especially electronic music, is investigating sounds from all the folkloric and traditional music around the world. It's very relatable to dance music."
Few acts have fused folkloric and futuristic sounds with more explosive results than Bomba Estéreo. The Colombian group fused cumbia with pounding electro-beats and psychedelic surf guitar on 2009 breakout Blow Up (Nacional), while this year's follow-up EP, Ponte Bomb, features a slew of remixes and a cheeky cover of Technotronic's "Pump up the Jam." Mejía is the architect behind Bomba, but vocal firecracker Liliana Saumet lights the fuse, spitting dancehall rhymes that occasionally invoke the traditional canon of her native Caribbean coast. At the core of all that noise remains Colombia's most famous musical export not named Shakira.
"Cumbia is a very powerful music," Mejía declares. "It started here in Colombia in colonial times, when Indians and African slaves mixed with the Spanish. In Latin America, we have cumbia from Mexico all the way down to Argentina. Every country has its own kind of cumbia, different from the one that comes from here originally, but it's still cumbia.
"It's a powerful rhythm. It's very universal music that comes from a very specific place."
History records Bomba Estéreo tapping into anything from Bollywood to Belgian disco-pop as long as it gets asses moving, but Mejía is confident he doesn't have to travel far from home to find the most fertile musical ground.
"Beyond cumbia there's a whole universe of rhythms and sounds and beats here in Colombia that haven't been explored very much," he insists. "It's an inspiration."