The story of La Chiva Gantiva began in Brussels when three young Colombian students started to play percussion together. Driven by a desire to assert their roots, feel closer to their homeland and its rich musical heritage, they began to blend Afro-Colombian rhythms, such as such as champeta, chirimia and maple, with other styles of music they loved: rock, afrobeat and funk. Soon joined by four other musicians (two Belgians, a Frenchman and a Vietnamese), they started performing around the world, and their exciting, explosive show conquered media and public alike.
Signed to Crammed Discs, La Chiva Gantiva will be releasing their second album, 'Vivo', on 17 February 2014. Recorded in their own studio (which they built for the occasion, upstairs from a bar in central Brussels), 'Vivo' was mixed in New York by Joel Hamilton (Blakroc, Sparklehorse, Marc Ribot, Bomba Estereo, Tom Waits) with the band's two main composers, vocalist Rafael Espinel and guitarist Felipe Deckers.
While the album's powerful sound reflects La Chiva Gantiva's incredible live energy, their "frenetic carnival-punk racket that detonates like a Molotov cocktail of rock, rap, soul and ferociously funky Latin rhythms" (as described by The Times, re: their 2012 performance on London's Trafalgar Square), 'Vivo' also contains songs in which the band further explore several musical directions, such as traditional percussion patterns and new sonic territories, while remaining grounded in their trademark rock/ Afrobeat fundamentals, punctuated by exuberant horn riffs.
The band uses traditional Caribbean instruments such as tambora, alegre, llamador and maracones, as well as electric guitar, bass guitar, clarinet, saxophone and drumkit. Their lyrics (all in Spanish, apart from "Pigeon" which is mainly in French) seek to deconstruct the clichés that circulate about Latin-American cultures. They talk about some stereotyped views held by Europeans about Latinos, and vice versa. By way of example, the song "Pollo" (meaning "chicken") is about a post-adolescent young man who does nothing all day, who has a hard time waking up in the morning and smokes as soon as he is up, who complains about everything without ever trying to change.
Their diverse musical influences - Colombian (with the likes of Toto la Moposina, Lucho Bermudez and Petrona Martinez), Latin (Fania All Stars, Irakere), African (Fela Kuti and Tony Allen), jazz (Lionel Hampton), funk (the legendary James Brown) and rock (Red Hot Chili Peppers and Rage Against the Machine) - have resulted in the six-piece becoming a self-contained cultural soundclash in their own right.
After performing in Continental Europe, La Chiva Gantiva made a couple of very successful visits to the UK (including shows at the River of Music festival during the 2012 Olympics, at the London Jazz Festival in November 2013 and at WOMAD in July 2013) and the US (with shows in NYC, LA, Miami and at SXSW). They also had the great pleasure of being welcomed by their country of origin: although the band was born in Europe, they have now become one of Colombia's most popular new acts - they have toured Colombia twice and have just celebrated at Premios Shock, the yearly Colombian TV Music Awards.
In early 2014, La Chiva Gantiva will be playing shows in Benin and at WOMAD Australia and New Zealand, before coming back to tour around Europe, including the UK.
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