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Q&A with With Afro-Colombian Pioneers Choc Quib Town: The Long Road To The Grammys

Q&A with With Afro-Colombian Pioneers Choc Quib Town: The Long Road To The Grammys

By toksala
February 7, 2011

A few years ago, a group like Choc Quib Town wouldn’t have made it to the ranks of Grammy nominees.

Their blend of hip hop, Afro-Colombian folk music, and politically-infused image was just too much for the mainstream world.

Now, with a Latin Grammy win, major tours in their midst, and a Grammy nomination pending, they’ve earned every right to be smug. Yet, the MC trio is still as humble, on track, and passionate as ever.

We spoke to Choc Quib Town about the immense success of their debut album Oro, the Grammys, and African bunde music.

A Latin  Grammy win? SXSW? An iTunes Feature? Great global publicity?  Here’s the  obvious question: how does it feel?!
It feels  really great to  receive such important recognition. It’s  amazing to show everyone our  sounds and music made with our hearts.  And maybe, our new sounds will refresh ears  and give joy to  people.

You’ve mentioned that your music culture  is  treated as totally alien in your country. What do you mean by that? Did you   face discrimination in the music industry in the early days of your   group?
I wouldn’t call it discrimination within the  industry. It was more that some people in the industry didn’t  understand what we wanted to  do with our music. It was too new for  them.

Are things looking up for Choc Quib Town?
More people are following the band. We’re beginning to  get major radio  airplay and we are doing things like collaborating with  artists from  other countries which we couldn’t do before. Opportunities are  opening  up all over the place.

Initially, your music was  influenced by politics around you. What specific political situation  influenced Oro?
With Oro, it was the  conditions of the workers in Colombian mines. That is a subject that  hadn’t been talked  about, but is certainly something that has been  going on for a long time and  hasn’t been handled as it should be.

Latin music and Western hip  hop have a clear impact on Oro. But African folk influences, like bunde, are subtle to the  untrained ear. Can you talk about the traditional  African rhythms in  your tracks? Did you grow up listening to them?
In terms  of Pacific rhythms like bunde, they do have African  influence because  of the drums used. But they are really Afro-Colombian  rhythms deep  down. We grew up listening to what was on the radio, music like Michael Jackson, but we also listened to our traditional rhythms. So  it was a  combination.

When you’re on tour, what do you  miss most about  home? (types of food, family members,  etc…)
We miss the food sometimes, but we try to learn  from other cultures and in some way food helps  a lot. We also miss  our family but fortunately we have amazing technology  and we can talk  to them and “see them” all the time.

What’s your favorite song to perform as a group and why?
Each of us  has a  particular song that we like the most, but as a group, it would  probably be  “Somos Pacifico” or “De Donde Vengo Yo.” It changes  depending on the moment,  the city, etc.

You do an awful  lot of dancing onstage. What do  you do to pump yourself up before live shows?
Well we warm up a  little bit. But we really just  try to get psyched up by being positive and  doing some singing  backstage.

What’s next for Choc Quib Town?
The challenges continue and we enjoy it very much! A lot  is coming  up for us like major tours and studio collaborations with  other artists. We  have a new album in the works and hope you all will  dig it.

Photo Credit:Salvatore Salamone

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