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Sound and Rhythm: Combo Chimbita

proud first-generation new yorkers, brooklyn-based combo chimbita draw from their barranquilla and bogotá roots to combine colombian cumbia with afro-caribbean and latin beats. refining the mix with a modern electronic edge, their infectiously danceable debut album ‘abya yala’ sets their sound apart as the aptly self-described “tropical futurism.” after touring extensively last year, including a stint as openers for parquet courts, combo chimbita are slated to release their highly anticipated sophomore album ‘ahomale’ for anti records on 5/3.

ahead of their album release show at elsewhere on 5/4, the band took the time to answer a few of our questions.

Looks like you guys were all over SXSW and wow-ed some folks there. How was the festival? Any particularly noteworthy moments?

Niño Lento: SXSW is cool, discovered some cool bands like Otoboke Beaver and Leikeli 47. Also it was great to see old friends like the guys from BIXIGA 70

Dilemastronauta: I was so happy to see that people dig our sound and rhythms, but I have to say playing at 7am for a radio show was the craziest thing I’ve done in recent years! I don’t know how I was able to do it and I can’t remember much as I was half sleep.

Congratulations on your forthcoming album, ‘Ahomale!’ Delving deeper into the inspiration that fed into ‘Ahomale,’ you’ve said that the songs act as a vehicle for the album’s protagonist “to communicate ancestral wisdom through music.” could you tell us more about that? Is there a particular song that you could talk about that most powerfully demonstrates this?

NL: Each Combo album is a chapter of a saga. All our records are connected from El Corredor del Jaguar EP to Ahomale. Ahomale is the name of a warrior that communicates with her ancestors and the lyrics reflect these conversations and experiences.

D: I would say that musicians are channels through which wisdom is shared. We as a band are conscious of this and try our best to deliver the message by becoming better conductors of the divine energy.

The way you recorded ‘Abya Yala’ sounded pretty spontaneous and heavily reliant on organic improvisation while in the studio. Did you guys take a similar approach when you were writing and recording ‘Ahomale?’

NL: We write most of the music at rehearsals! It’s a collective and organic process. We do not really produce the record at a studio or next to a computer. This time we recorded drums, guitar, and bass of all the songs together in one or two days. After that we did a few over dubs like synths and vocals. A couple of synth parts and vocals were actually written at the studio, but that was it.

D: Yes, improvising is big element in the creation of our songs. We did just that during rehearsals and in the studio. In my opinion, songs can be born and developed in the studio but they come to full fruition when played live.

Is there a unique relationship between the “ancestral wisdom” you’re tapping into and music that makes it an especially powerful medium for expression?

NL: Music is vibration and these vibrations are more important than the so called “music industry”. I mean, once you have experienced music from a deeper perspective, I mean beyond the idea of mere entertainment, you began to see the real purpose of music. Vibrations that connect you with the spiritual world.

D: Music is in part ancestral wisdom specially for some of us in the band who are involved with traditional music of Colombia. It becomes clear that through native songs, many messages are transmitted and the legacy of community, nature, water is shared.

How has your experience been moving on to a bigger label (ANTI-) for ‘Ahomale’?

NL: ANTI- respect our vision and support our projects. It feels great to have a team of people working with you in order to make your vision a reality.

D: It has been a blessing to have ANTI- as our support platform. With their help we’re able to take our sonic and visual ideas to the next level.

Interview by Xin-Rui Lee

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