Last week the all-female Colombian trio La Perla treated Bristol to a lively upbeat night of cumbia and Caribbean rhythms. We asked them a few questions about their sounds and the music industry in Colombia.
What inspires you to create music influenced by Colombian culture?
Music is a very powerful tool because it allows you to reach those that are ready and willing to listen, and having access to this gives you a space for expression. Our music is a manifesto of our opinions and world views regarding society; the treatment of women, freedom of expression, but also parties, life and fun. We like talking about love and pretty things like that, but we also call out the injustices we see. It’s no secret that in Colombia you can be killed for saying what you think, for fighting for the land, the water, for equality, and we find it incredible that these things still happen nowadays. It hurts to see the murders of social leaders, forced displacement, the destruction of nature, and the physical and psychological harm done to people – and this is what we deal with in our songs.
How would you describe your sound?
It’s an authentic sound, inspired by the drums and traditional gaitas from the Caribbean, mixed with other rhythms from the wider Caribbean region like the trumpet and Dominican merengue. It’s a powerful mix, which aims to create a trance-like atmosphere as the old Bullerengue singers or gaiteros would do. We aim for the people who come to see us to feel included in our music, through clapping, singing, and dancing. We want to show a little of what happens at traditional cultural displays, like the gaita and Bullerengue shows.
Is there a strong music scene in Colombia? Could you describe it?
There is a great diversity of traditional, alternative and underground styles in Bogotá. As a city where many different cultures come together, the same happens with its music. We are very lucky to be able to meet master gaiteros and marimberos, or great jazz or experimental singers. There’s a very long list of bands with excellent music to offer.
I imagine that playing in Colombia is very different to playing here. What was the experience of playing live in England like, and did you like it?
In every place you experience things in a different way. We were very pleasantly surprised to see how eager the people were in England to listen and learn and dance and party, it was great for us to watch the audience connecting with the music, which is always a powerful influence when you play.
What can we expect to see from you in the future?
We are in the process of creating new songs, and new ways to present the sound of the tambores to the public. We want our music to stand out in a sea of offerings from the Caribbean, and surprise people by showing them the traditional structures that appear within the music. We want to make risks, and have our audiences’ heads explode with unexpected discoveries. We also want to keep travelling, bringing our sound to wherever it takes us. Our hearts fill with happiness every time a Colombian or Latinx comes up to us and tells us that we made them feel at home.
Photo credits: Sebastian Cardona