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La Diabla Combines Traditional Cumbia Music with the Gritty Spirit of Tijuana

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The band La Diabla combines traditional Cumbia music with the gritty spirit of Tijuana. They bring their binational dance party wherever they go, and they stopped by the KPBS studio to share their influences and some history about Cumbia.

Show transcript

Speaker 1: 00:00 Summer is swiftly flying by, but we've still got a few weeks to go in our summer music series this week. This studio concert is hosted by Jade Heineman. The band La Diablo combines traditional Cumbia music with the gritty spirit of Tijuana. They bring their binational dance party wherever they go. Take a listen. [inaudible]

Speaker 2: 00:58 [inaudible] [inaudible] federal [inaudible] [inaudible]

Speaker 1: 01:19 and today the band behind that music La Diablo joins us in the KPBS studio. Hey, welcome. I've been Rodriguez, Adrian Rodriguez on accordion and vocals. Jose Bolanos, you're running all the social media for the band and everything goes a little bit of everything. Yeah. Welcome. You all. Thank you. Thank you. We appreciate you joining us here on midday edition. Hey, first question. How did La Diablo start?

Speaker 3: 01:44 We used to go down with the one, uh, uh, Ivan and myself were brothers and we would go down at the [inaudible] to, to this youth group. They, there was at a, at the seminary down there just Kinda to hang out with kids our age and they would do retreats in, in the city of Monterey. Mexico. [inaudible] is one of the biggest cities for Koombaya like in all of Mexico. What really caught our eye was one time we were at a little plaza over there and there was a like a battle kind of like when they do wrap paddles, but it was one accordionist against another according to this who clinks basic. And they were, instead of fighting, they were actually playing music against each other. And that was like music. Yeah. And there was a big culture shock and what they were playing was Colombian Cumbia.

Speaker 1: 02:23 So this is a sound unlike anything you guys had ever heard. Okay.

Speaker 3: 02:26 Yeah. Nobody, yeah, it didn't exist. It's still to this day there's not many bands I play what we play right now. [inaudible] in this region. Yeah. So I mean like how would you describe your sound was a very rustic, um, roots, Colombian Goombas like the origins of Columbia. The sound itself is very traditional, very folk, but the essence of it is actually more inclined to like the, the punk rock. Like, because we're going against the current, we'll play in all kinds of events where you don't expect this. Like we've showed up at hip hop events that hardcore punk events, uh, ray m we'll just play wherever andW and we don't care if it's one person or we played up to 50,000 people, don't everybody in front of 50,000 people. It's just like, um, yeah, we just want to do a party and get everybody up. But what's so weird is like he, I hear Punk Rock, but when I listened to the music, I hear these, this African influence.

Speaker 3: 03:17 Yeah. Like tell me about that. What are the origins of Cumbia? Well, the beginnings of what became Columbia were from Africa. Um, that's where the drum rhythms came from. Columbia like actually has the first free African nation in America, which was [inaudible]. They there, they had a style couple yet and gay, which was a lot of drums. More percussive. Yes. More profession. Goomba Ha has a lot of influence from Africa and it's orange. It's are African in part, but they're also indigenous because the sounds, the melodies are melodies that simulate the sounds that the birds of the region would make. So a lot of the melodies that we play now with the summer NATO style are basically kind of emulating the sound of birds from that region and the way they sing. And, and also the, another part of it that's indigenous, like there's a instrument called watch DACA.

Speaker 3: 04:07 It's the kind of like a Guido where you just scrape it and, and that's also a native instrument. But the community we play also has the European influence because as a a diatonic accordion, which comes from Germany or from Italy, but mainly from Germany, the, the type of accordions that they use in Colombia, more German than, than anything interest. And to get all of that unique sound together, you guys have to use unique instruments. So let me hear some of that. What do you have? You've got something called a shout out guy and he's got an accordion

Speaker 4: 05:00 [inaudible].

Speaker 3: 05:01 Very nice. And so what other instruments defined this music? The style that we use is so narrow. So, um, it borrows insurance from Vienna, apple music. There's an instrument called [inaudible]. It's kind of like a larger version of a Bungo, but it's only a single drum and the head is made of literally x-rays. So it has a very low pitch sound when you hit it in the middle, but high, high end on the edges. So it has a big variety of of sounds. Eh? Usually for Goomba they also use what's called a [inaudible]. Sort of like a Conga. Yeah, like a Conga [inaudible] same, we call it [inaudible], which is kinda like a fill drum fills. Sure. And then there's a [inaudible] which gives a constant beat. What gives Gumby a Kumbaya? My Lord is just like that. Kind of like a metronome. That's, yeah. My daughter will do that sound and then they have the Tombarra, which is the lowest pitch sound we use a four times. We use actually drum kit, like a, a five piece drum kit. Floor time. Yeah. But the way we played is the way they played over there. Yeah. Awesome. Well, Hey, I know that there's one song that demonstrates all of that very well. It's called La Pedrosa. Yeah. And it means the powerful one. Let's take a listen.

Speaker 5: 06:14 We're not going to get [inaudible]

Speaker 2: 06:53 [inaudible]

Speaker 3: 07:02 what does the dog, Hey, I can definitely see how that would get everybody up on their feet. Hey, what's it like being a binational band? Yeah, it's very interesting because um, it gives us a whole different perspective. Um, US ourselves, we, we are of a specific subculture that kind of like Chicano, but at the same time we have another part which is where trans border, like we actually have [inaudible] every day, every day. Cause I was gonna ask him, you know, how, you know, does your music reflect life, uh, in a border region? It does because here there's a fusion of all kinds of cultures already in. And what Goombay itself is, is, is a fusion of three different cultures and that kind of reflects what we are. We're a mixed also ourselves. Like we're, we are American but we are also Mexican. [inaudible] nationality of some of us is not Mexican.

Speaker 3: 07:55 We are from both places, but we're from neither at the same time, which is kind of weird. Like neither Kenya. Yeah. Yeah. That's what they say. [inaudible] not from here. And not from there. Trust me. I understand. Hey, what's it like bringing music from Mexico? Do People here in the current border? Climate? Music is a, is a international language. That's something that it doesn't matter where you're from, where you're from, as if you're just willing to have fun and, and are open to it. Um, you're going to in the beginning of the night. Yeah. Music is universal language. La Diablo. Thanks so much for stopping by Y'all. No, thank you. I appreciate it.

Speaker 2: 08:39 [inaudible]

Speaker 3: 08:40 La Diablo performs this Sunday afternoon in Barrio Logan at the hood stock music festival and fundraiser and tune in next week for our performance by San Diego bluegrass band, prairie sky. For more information, go to kpbs.org/summer music series.

Speaker 2: 09:58 [inaudible].

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Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon host KPBS Midday Edition, a daily radio news magazine keeping San Diego in the know on everything from politics to the arts.