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Bomba Estereo's Simón Mejía Taps A Symphony Of Nature Sounds

On his solo album <em>Monte</em>, Bomba Estereo's Simón Mejía saw his growing archive of nature sounds turn into raw material for electronic beats.
On his solo album <em>Monte</em>, Bomba Estereo's Simón Mejía saw his growing archive of nature sounds turn into raw material for electronic beats.

Simón Mejía and his band, Bomba Estereo, love to give their fans cause to party with their music. But after years of nonstop touring, as well as becoming a father, Mejía felt he needed a break. So he set out to reconnect with nature in his home country, Colombia.

"Everyone that has been born here in this country has to have a very deep relation with nature," Mejía says. "We have part of the Amazon jungle, we have three branches of the Andes mountain range. We have a huge desert in the north. We have the two seas, the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans. We have the snow and we have the Caribbean Sea. So it's really strong, and it's really dense."

He roved all over Colombia with a microphone to capture captivating sounds all around him, from the birds to the waves to the jungle. Those sounds have become the foundation of his new solo album, Mirla.

Mejía and Bomba Estereo have been active in Colombia's environmental movement for years, fighting against deforestation and mining in sensitive areas. But with Mirla, Mejía says he found a new approach to his activism — centered less on speaking and more on his primary art form.

"I was reflecting and thinking, 'OK, what I know how to do is art and music.' And what happened is I used music to create a kind of activism that is not singing about specific causes, but trying to, through music, connect with nature," he says.

"When I started recording nature, like two or three years ago, I was just making the recordings to have archives of these natural soundscapes, that maybe in the future we will not hear the same, or maybe we will not hear again — you know, there are some birdsongs that maybe in the future will just disappear. So I was making this kind of like a personal archive for me. When I realized that maybe I could do some music, or find a way to incorporate that into the electronic production I was doing, I started to record specifically thinking about electronic mixes."

Simón Mejía spoke about the process behind Mirla with Weekend Edition Saturday. Hear more at the audio link.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: September 15, 2020 at 11:00 PM CDT
In the audio of this story, as in a previous Web version, we incorrectly say that Simón Mejía's new album is called Monte. It is actually titled Mirla.