THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Bomba Estéreo’s new album Deja is the band’s long-awaited first album in four years. Deja is about leaving behind the unnecessary baggage in our lives and re-connecting with what is meaningful and essential — with the Earth. It’s about finding hope for our future by finding a better balance between technology and the natural world.
Deja is divided conceptually into four sections that correspond to the earth’s four elements: Agua, Aire, Tierra and Fuego. “The album is about the connection and disconnection of human beings — from the planet, from one’s own self,” Bomba’s vocalist Liliana “Li” Saumet says. “It’s about how we’re disconnected, more connected to electronic devices and virtual things than real things. So, we decided to use the four elements, because they’re part of the equilibrium of human beings.”
Bomba, whose core members are beatmaster/composer Simón Mejía and vocalist/lyricist Li, have been a major force in the alternative/Caribbeat/dance scene since 2010’s smash hit Fuego. Subsequent releases like the Latin Grammy-nominated Elegancia Tropical (2013) and the Grammy-nominated Amanecer (2015) and Ayo (2017) have put them at the forefront of influential hybrid-beat bands, as well as blowing up dancehalls from New York to Paris to Tokyo.
For Deja, Simón and Li wanted to make the album more of a “community” effort. Simón found increasing chemistry playing live shows with guitarist José Castillo and the folkloric percussion of Efrain “Pacho” Cuadrado. Li recruited her longtime friend Lido Pimienta for the session — the pair’s previous collaboration Nada ended up on President Barack Obama’s Best of 2020 playlist.
“I wanted to collaborate with Lido to try new sounds with my voice,” Li explains. “She has that underground edge that I like, and she also invited some Cuban collaborators with her, a duo named Okan. It was beautiful to have more women with me, I felt more supported, safer and at ease.”
This time, the band decided to self-produce the album (outside of a couple of invited guest producers like Trooko) and constructed a makeshift studio in Li’s home in Santa Marta. In the middle of the pandemic, this community of collaborators got together where the Sierra Nevada mountains meet the sea,let it all go and recorded the album. “We all wound up there and we made an album that has some of the best of classic Bomba, like Elegancia Tropical, and a lot of new composing elements that José and Pacho brought,” Simón said. The pandemic’s delaying effects also gave the band plenty of time to produce and mix Deja with a major assist from Damian Taylor.
Deja is one of those albums that, even in its disparate sections, forms a unity. It’s an album that transmits joy, loss, exhilaration, and sadness all at once. “Some heavy things are happening to the world, and we have to share them,” Li says. “We made this album so you can dance to it at a club, but at the same time it has a profound meaning. It’s meant for you to dance perreo with a conscience. It’s about how we’re disconnected, more connected to electronic devices and virtual things than real things. So we decided to use the four elements because they’re part of the equilibrium of human beings.”