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Carlos Nino  in London
Latinos in London  on 2014-01-29

La Chiva Gantiva : Vivo

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. Until then we can expect several exciting and fun videos in the spirit of those which the band and their entourage had produced to illustrate to songs from their debut album 'Pelao'.


Press Quotes:

"It seems a fair guess that Joe Strummer would have loved La Chiva Gantiva. A joyous ramshackle racket that interweaves clattery Latin rhythms with dishevelled funk, rock and jazz elements in a similarly frenetic style to other deracinated roots-punk acts like Gogol Bordello or Manu Chao. This lively debut is awash with bone-shaking carnival punk-funk grooves." Uncut

"LCG have the crowd in the palm of their hand (and out on the dancefloor) from the very first note." fRoots

"Whippet-thin and explosively hairy, their livewire singer Rafael Espinel electrified the sun-weary crowd with his irrepressible energy and charisma." The Times

"Kaboom! Tish! There's a lot going on in this hot-blooded mess that features a UN-tastic personnel. Restless, arresting, addictive." Monocle

"A firebomb of Latin grooves." Libération (France)

"One of the best anti-depressants… This Brussels-based, multi-ethnic band shakes the Old Continent's bones." Vibrations (France)


1 Para Arriba 04:01
2 Estrenando 03:42
3 Vivo 02:48
4 Me Voy de Mi Cabeza 03:52
5 Wepaje 03:07
6 Pigeon 04:00
7 La Pecosa 02:32
8 Loco Como Yo 03:36
9 El Valor Tiene Mareo 02:17
10 El Pollo 02:58
11 No Para de Llover 03:48
12 Amamar 02:34


Live in London:
Tuesday, 29 April 2014, 7pm
The Jazz Cafe, 5 Parkway, Camden Town, London NW1 7PG
Tickets: £15 advance from (0844 847 2514/
Also appearing at these festivals:
31 May, Wychwood Festival, Cheltenham Racecourse, Oxon,
19 July, Larmer Tree, near Salisbury, Wilts,
20 July, Rhythm Tree Festival, Isle of Wight,
9 August, Boomtown Fair Festival, Hampshire,
17 August, Beautiful Days Festival, Escot Park, Devon,

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