At a time of peak technological connection, we have reciprocally reached an era of heightened isolation and pandemic assisted disconnection. Bomba Estéreo is here to help guide us back to heal our communal relationship with nature through the power of music.
Colombian electro-tropical duo Bomba Estéreo are globally known for providing dance rhythms with powerfully charged messages since their inception in 2005. A self described “perreo with a conscience” (which we couldn’t wait to discuss) have allowed them to transcend the boundaries of definition, with eclectic music as eclectic as colorful as the avant-garde outfits they so frequently harness. Pulling influence from Caribbean inspired percussion to house heavy electro-synths, Bomba Estéreo create worlds of hybrid-beats that has secured their legacy on the dance floor.
Always conscience-forward, their latest album announcement of Deja is an experimental and intentional project comprised of four EP segments: Agua, Aire, Tierra and Fuego. Together the four elements combine to create balance in our natural world. Together as EPs, the four segments combine to form a complete album that creates a balance in our emotional world. In a moment where stability is so heavily sought after in an ever-changing world, Bomba Estéreo’s latest creates a sonic door that provides us an opportunity to journey our own pathway to a stasis escape.
LADYGUNN spoke with front woman Li Saumet regarding their latest EP Aire, the power of music as liberation and how critical it is for humanity to heal its relationship with nature.
Interview has been translated & edited for clarity purposes.
First thing I always feel I need to ask: How are you? How is your heart doing?
I’m good. My heart is doing well, my life overall is doing very well. I am really happy.
With everything happening with the world – what have you been exploring this last almost year and a half in quarantine?
For me on a personal level, this has been a very beautiful experience. It has allowed me to be at home, spend more time with my family and do more things that I just never had much time to do before. Overall, it has allowed for a very beautiful experience to take place in my life.
This time has also allowed you to complete your upcoming album Deja, which has a very unique roll out of 4 separate EPs that resemble the elements. The albums overall purpose is to take the time to reexamine our relationship between technology and nature and reconnect back with the personal. How do you feel that music can help people recognize the importance of that reconnection?
I think we are at a very critical moment in the world. A very powerful one too. Many people are suffering across the globe. So to say that music is super necessary right now. Music has always given us that opportunity for escape: when we’re in love, when we’re frustrated, when we feel lonely, sad or we want to dance. Music has always been like a door that when you open, you can go a few different ways. In these moments, I think it is incredibly necessary to open the door and go towards the most profound paths and the directions that really affect you personally and allow for change, spiritually. I think that’s one of the most important parts of this album, and it’s arrived at such a beautiful moment where people really are in need of musical escape. For me the message is critical and fundamental. Each song provides an opportunity for one to escape.
Now we have Aire, the second and latest element of the four parts that make up the complete album and is composed of three songs “Ahora,” “Profundo” and “Se Acabó” Is there any significance to the number three? Why not singles or fuller EPs?
We wanted to move at our own rhythm and create more naturally. We feel like the music industry has moved towards a very fast paced environment and like we always had to be behind something. With this album we wanted to do everything on the contrary. We decided we wanted to move more in the rhythm of nature itself. That’s why we made this in 4 elements, because nature has its own rhythm that you can’t force to accelerate, it will always move at a pace that it wants too. We wanted to follow that and have people adapt to a natural rhythm, to the rhythm that we are making or creating things and show that we don’t have to adapt, as artists, to what the industry is asking of us. It was a very beautiful process. We wanted to talk about the earth and the respective elements because at the end of the day, it is all about balance. When all 4 elements are present, there is a balance. When there’s a balance, it creates equilibrium. With this album we are recalibrating to create equilibrium within ourselves, within the community and within the world. With everything that’s been going on, I think that’s a very powerful sentiment.
How did you plan out the creation of the album? Was it completed and then songs divided into elements or were the songs specifically crafted for their respective element?
We completed the album in its entirety first. Then we took a look at the songs and assessed which felt more like Agua, Aire, Tierra and Fuego.
For you, what about these three songs stood out to you to represent the element of Aire?
The lyrics, definitely the lyrics. With Aire, you look at a song like “Ahora” that talks mostly about the way things in life are constantly changing. To me it felt like that had a lot of air sentiment in the way that air tends to have a cleansing quality, it has the ability to push away things and energy all around us that no longer serves us. Its a feeling that it has the ability to move you, and move things away from you too. Also, every segment compliments the one before. So the first, Agua, is about cleansing everything. Now Agua, is about the air coming and sweeping all thats been removed away. Next Tierra, which is the opportunity to plant new seeds. Then Fuego, which allows for renewal.
Why did you choose “Ahora” to be the leading single of the EP?
“Ahora” is one of my favorite songs on the album because I think it’s going to be the soundtrack of a lot of yoga or meditation retreats. It’s just a very important song because it’s meant to read like a mantra. If you say a mantra everyday, you’re going to manifest it. If you say “I’m going to be okay,” you’re going to be okay. And I think it’s so important that people remember that in this moment.
Another theme that’s less blatant, yet still heavily implied is the concept of femininity. It’s something that has always been very important in your music in general. What inspiration did it play out on this album?
Mother earth, completely. And of course, I am a woman. Femininity is something that is inherently in me. Like creation, being a mother, having the ability to give life; that all mimics the earth. She is always giving life, is always staying fluid and most importantly always compassionate. Think about it, she can wipe out existence for everyone if she wanted too. Instead, she stays compassionate and patient despite how damaging we have been to her. Yet, she is there, strong, firm and as a mother, taking care of all and allowing us to grow. I wanted the album to embody that, to learn to stay strong in our roots, wherever they may lay, and feel pride towards her for providing so much.
Another way you celebrate a strong feminine theme – is through your collaborations. You paired up with Miss Colombia Lido Pimienta for much of this album. How did this collaboration happen and what did that help foster on an album that celebrates the mothering nature of femininity.
It is such an important part of this album, the idea of celebrating the feminine. In the beginning of this process, I felt a bit lost artistically. When one begins to release albums, and begin having some form of success, I don’t know, artistically, at least for me I started to feel stuck, I just wasn’t very happy. So I decided to work with, in my opinion, one of the best Colombian musicians, Lido Pimienta. So I went to Canada to work with her and it was such a lovely process. It just flowed in a way that was so natural. So not only did we create a grand album, but a grand friendship as well. So from that point we began to speak often about the realities of life almost every day. I think it’s important to put out there because as artists from the same country, I feel there is always a lot of commentary that we shouldn’t like each other because we’re “competing” artistically. But we’re out here like no, we’re friends, we’re collaborators and as women we are here to encourage and support each other. In the end we created such magical songs and an incredible album through experimentation on a conceptual level. We’re going to keep working together in the future.
There was a quote you mentioned for this release where you say this is meant for people to “dance perreo with a conscience” and I absolutely love that. I feel it’s so common for people to think that those two things can’t coexist in music or in a culture. Yet, we have Bomba Estéreo and you’re here proving the intersection can be beautiful. Can you expand a bit more on that idea?
I feel like Bomba has created music to dance to since we started and the whole world knows it. We make music that is influenced from Tropical to Champeta to Moombahton. Music and beats that are made to dance too, very similar to that of Reggaeton. I think Reggaeton has developed an association with perreo, with perreo now implying a culture that is very machista and not thinking of women in very high regards. I think that’s a very strong situation because sometimes the lyrics can be very empty and we are now in this period of commercialization made for what will sell. Everyone can do what they want with their career, but when you have a platform I think there is a responsibility artists have and we should have a bit of conscience in that regard. Bomba has been making people dance for a long time, but now with this surge in popular dance music, I think the genre has become a bit trivial. We just want to say that there’s a way to be real, have a strong message with a conscience and still have the ability to make you want to dance. There is a very special track coming on the upcoming Fuego that highly displays that – I can’t wait for it to be out.
CONNECT WITH BOMBA ESTÉREO
photos / Andres Navarro
story / Jeanette Diaz