The Kumbia Queers are the most popular women-led Cumbia band in all of Latin America. Then again, they are one of the only women-led Cumbia bands in Latin America. That – and the fact that the members are gay – have attracted a good amount of attention to their talent. This Friday, the DJ collectives Anthology of Booty and Maracuyeah are bringing the Argentinian-and-Mexican-based Kumbia Queers to DC.
Cumbia is an infectious, celebratory genre of music originating from Caribbean coast of Colombia and popular throughout Latin America. Colonial slaves intially developed Cumbia from Guinean cumbé music, mixing in native New World instruments. Even when the lyrics are serious, the music is upbeat – which is why those listening to it can’t help but smile and dance. For their part, the Kumbia Queers often mash-up with other genres, which they label Cumbia Punk or Tropipunk.
Brightest Young Things spoke with both Ali Gua Gua (from Kumbia Queers) and DJ Natty Boom (of Anthology of Booty) ahead of the Friday show.
Your audience on Friday will certainly include people who have never before heard Cumbia music. What should someone expect when hearing cumbia music for the first time?
Ali Gua Gua (from Kumbia Queers): Cumbia…it´s a feeling. For me, it´s the real Latinoamérica rock and roll. It´s something that we grew with, it´s in our DNA. You can breathe cumbia in the air in our countries. Expect a lot of fun. The girls who are organizing this event are party specialists who are putting this party together with love.
Your music is starting to take you across the world. How are these countries reacting to your tropipunk?
Ali Gua Gua (from Kumbia Queers): It´s incredible for us – dream come true: being able to travel, and tour, and play with our music around the world, and meeting amazing people every night. We always dreamed about it! Last year we played in Poland and Chez Republic for the first time. We looked at each other and said “Cumbia in Poland! Naaaaa!”. Never tought about that before. The reaction it´s awesome. Wee have a really sweet feedback from the audience who allow us to keep going.
Why is cumbia so awesome?
Ali Gua Gua (from Kumbia Queers): It gets people together. It´s a rhythm celebration, very hypnotic, sweaty and sexy. It´s a way of expression more feminine, if i can say. You dance a lot and forget about everything. Your ass gets free, and your body and mind follow!
What other cities are you excited to play in the United States?
Ali Gua Gua (from Kumbia Queers): We did New York City and Chicago before. But, this it´s really our first proper USA tour. We´re going to New York, DC, Chicago, Austin for SXSW, San Antonio, San José, Sacramento, San Francisco, Santa Ana, Berkeley, Los Angeles, and San Diego. We´re excited to play everywhere really. Every gig is a challenge for us and we try to do the best in each show. It’s a lot of energy, but very rewarding. We expect to come back, so we just put our heart in our live shows.
I’m really looking forward to do DC, because the girls of Maracuyeah and Anthology of Booty are so amazing. I’m sure we are gonna have a mega awesome and unforgettable night!
Natty Boom, How did you first get acquainted with Kumbia Queers?
Natty Boom: I first heard their song Celosa from my close friends, who also happened to later make up Anthology of Booty (Which is a DJ collective of rAt, Mothershiester, Bent, Indanile and myself). AoB started as a group of friends sharing music we had a passion for and telling stories about each song. We shared info about the band, genre, culture around the genre and sometimes even how folks in the scene would dance to it!
Hearing the Kumbia Queers, the band’s name simply stuck out to me as badass. Then as the song continued, I realized Cumbia was a genre. After AoB started DJing parties together, I would see how people would react to Celosa and Cumbia in general. So, I began digging more into Cumbia and the Kumbia Queers.
Had you been familiar with Cumbia music before?
Natty Boom: I honestly learned about Cumbia by learning about the Kumbia Queers. I watched their videos, and felt an immediate connection. They felt like my friends and my community… just in different countries, speaking a different language and with more musical talent than I had. Once I dug more into Cumbia, I very rarely saw women in the bands or playing instruments. So that set Kumbia Queers in more context for me.
Also, I spent half of 2013 living and traveling around Peru and into Ecuador, so Cumbia became so much more a part of my everyday experience there. Riding in colectivos (minivans) that mainly transported folks in rural areas to their jobs and obligations in nearby cities (and a very few travelers like my partner and I looking to reach non-touristy areas and adventures), to city buses in the mega metropolis of Lima, in all of those places Cumbia played on most of those rides. Whether it was somebody’s cell phone or the main speaker system, we were listening to some Cumbias! It not only affected my musical taste, but even the typography of the screen printed posters advertising Cumbia shows.
The typography of Cumbia posters (image from Chincha Alta, Peru) inspired the BoomHammer logo (artwork by Lisa Marie Thalhammer)
What made you decide to bring Kumbia Queers to DC?
Natty Boom: Maracuyeah brought Ali Gua Gua to DJ their 2nd Anniversary Party in 2013, and then Ali Gua Gua helped Maracuyeah book their Mexico DJ tour soon after. They all maintained their relationship, and Maracuyeah approached Anthology of Booty about partnering to do this show together. Qué linda, indeed!
Kumbia Queers often mash traditional cumbia music with other strains (which they have labeled cumbia punk or tropipunk) and a DJ did a rather impressive mash-up of Kumbia Queers and Die Antwood. (BYT: Yes, which is amazing).
Yes, that Die Antwood mash-up is amazing. What other genres of music can we expect layered into Cumbia at this show?
Natty Boom: Tropipunk makes so much sense to me. You can also feel hints of Funk, Pop Singalongs, Rock n Roll and I’ve long felt Cumbia and Go-Go have lots of similarities. Also, the DJs of Anthology of Booty and Maracuyeah will be spinning our infamous mix of Global Booty Beats before and after our very special guests.
You can catch the Kumbia Queers this Friday at Judy’s Bar and Restaurant (14th and Florida).
Anthology of Booty and Maracuyeah Present:
Friday, March 07
Judy’s Bar and Restaurant (14th and Florida)
For more information, click here.
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