Jun 01

The New Sound of Colombia Music: 5 Underground Artists You Have to Hear

Monsieur Periné (image courtesy of http://www.cartelurbano.com)
Monsieur Periné (image courtesy of http://www.cartelurbano.com)

For a long time the world at large had little understanding of Colombian music beyond the erratic wail of Shakira and the unchallenging soft-rock of Juanes. In the last couple of years  that all changed. Acts such as Bomba Estereo and Chocquibtown exploded on to the scene, borrowing from traditional Colombian rhythms but adding modern twists. Suddenly the world of Colombian music seemed a very exciting place, and cities such as Bogota and Medellin quickly became synonymous with this new and experimental sound. Soon other artists popped up, such as Systema Solar and Sidestepper, who all also garnered critical acclaim.

But by now you´ve listened to ‘Mas Papaya’ about a million times, right? Where to look now for some fresh Colombian sounds? Here at the Colombia Travel Blog, we’re bringing you 5 fresh artists for you to discover.

1. Esteman

Esteman is difficult to pin down. Influenced by what is clearly a wide-variety of music, his sound can switch from flamboyant big-band to 60s girl-group to stripped-down acoustic indie – sometimes all in the course one of song. Incessantly catchy and with a commanding stage presence (despite his rather dimunutive frame), Esteman is one to keep an eye on for the future.

2. Cero 39

Cero 39 are an enigmatic bunch, preferring to stay under the radar and not expose themselves in frivolities like videos and such. Their music borrows heavily from traditional Colombian genres (cumbia, vallenato and more), but mixes them with complex yet catchy electronica. You´re ultimately as quick to cite Four Tet as an influence as Diomedes Diaz – an odd combination I´m sure you´ll agree, but one that works in the skillful hands of Cero 39.

3. Pernett

Pernett is probably the most established of the artists in this list; he’s been rocking the airwaves with classics such as ‘La Rumba Bacana’ for years now. His distinctive remixes of classics have earnt him critical acclaim, while the energy of his music allows him to appeal to anyone who enjoys a decent rumba.

4. Monsieur Periné

It´s hard to ignore Monsier Periné: a profusion of colour, energy and undeniable cool, they´re a safe bet or any ‘next-big-thing to come out of Colombia’ debate. Elements of jazz and swing feature heavily in their sound, but there are also the quirky, kitsch elements of a group well-versed in what’s happening right now in the world of indie. Be sure to check them out.

5. Lido Pimienta

Lido Pimienta’s sound is strange, catchy and above all completely hypnotic. In songs such as ‘Luces’ she effortlessly recalls Bjork, The XX or Mum, while elsewhere she maneuvers through less-trodden routes, transforming traditional cumbia rhythms or bringing Colombian sounds to bear upon psycheledica. Currently based in Canada, there’s no doubt Lido Pimienta connects strongly to her Colombian roots. An extremely exciting artist, we’ll be watching her closely for new stuff to bring you.

Any more suggestions for us? Get in touch in the comments!


11 thoughts on “The New Sound of Colombia Music: 5 Underground Artists You Have to Hear

  1. nadu on

    Kali Uchis!!! You have to listen 🙂

  2. Jalule on

    My man, time to make an update on this music list!
    I’ll give you some names, you just listen to them and get back to me anytime soon. 😉

    -Systema Solar
    -Papaya Republik
    -V for Volume
    -Los Bunkers
    -Alto Grado

    Last but not least, if you want to see more things music related, there’s this website called El Parlante Amarillo. Not sponsoring, they’re actually kinda good.
    Loving the whole blog (some posts are just freaking hilarious). 🙂
    Hope you’re enjoying yourself and that you can definitely keep it up.

    P.s. I don’t know if you’ve ever made a post about art and festivals… interested?


      Paul Fowler on

      Jalule, we’d be very interested in a post about arts and festivals… email me at pfowler@seecolombia.travel to tell me what you’re thinking…

      And yes, the music does need to be updated, it’s a couple of years old now! (although it still mentions Systema Solar ;))

  3. Learn More Than Spanish on

    We love Esteman, for us the best song is “Pobre Corazón”. Wow! Monsier Periné!!

  4. Russ on

    That’s a pretty good list guys – Monsieur Periné are definitely the band that are getting the most hype at the time. I think it’s also going to be interesting to hear what Lido Pimienta does next. She’s working with some guys in Canada, a trumpet player and drummer who are really from the alternative scene there, so it’s gonna be quite a different sound I think.

    There is one new band who are set to release an amazing album this summer which is Ondatrópica (ondatropica.com). They’re actually comprised of members of Frente Cumbiero, the British producer Quantic and a load of legendary Colombians like Fruko, Anibal Velasquez and Pedro Ramaya Beltran, and their album is absolutely immense! It mixes cumbia, salsa and porro with elements of dub and hip hop, and is just a beautiful thing. Definitely one to check out!

    I’m working on a Colombia project at the moment which I’m also sure will be immense! indiegogo.com/sc-colombia



      Paul on

      Thanks for the comment Russ, checking out the stuff now and liking it a lot. Excited to hear Ondatropica… When is the disc out?

      Also liking the prospect of the Sound and Colours project, looks really exciting. I’ll definitely be in touch about it!



      rebeca on

      also a correction, Sidestepper is the father of all this movement. they were here years before bomba or chocquibtown…they toured the world before any of these bands existed ;)) also pernett and goyo of chocquib were part of sidestepper…any way great music coming from colombia

  5. Lorena Pardo on

    You’re missing ‘Puerto Candelaria’ http://www.puertocandelaria.com
    They call their music as ‘Cumbia Underground’.

    Hearing them is something amazing, sounds that makes you dance, and enjoy without bounds.
    And, is not just their music (that is a joke of our reality, a demostration of our mistakes and craziness), but also their acting in scene, their characters and the energy that they spread.
    Being in one of their concerts is something that make you dream and be proud of Colombian music.

    Their page in facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PuertoCandelaria


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