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Anitta and Bomba Estereo on how Latin American music captured a global audience - Q&A

Brazilian pop star Anitta and Colombian band Bomba Estereo share their thoughts on how genres such as reggaeton have widened their fanbase to dominate charts in the US and the UK

Roisin O'Connor
Music Correspondent
Thursday 28 June 2018 15:26 BST
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Latin American pop star Anitta
Latin American pop star Anitta (Press image)

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

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Music fans have been enjoying the explosion in popularity of Latin American music of late (about time), and The Independent has already covered how that took place in a recent feature - gradually at first, then with the sudden onslaught of monster hits such as "Mi Gente" and "Despacito".

UK and US charts are seeing more foreign-language tracks take spots in the top 100 than ever before, while major pop artists like Justin Bieber, Little Mix, Sia and Beyonce are clamouring to work with huge acts from Colombia, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Spain and France.

We caught up with two major acts - Anitta and Bomba Estéreo - to see what they make of the sudden demand for Latin American music in Britain and America, and to see what they predict for its future.

Anitta is a Brazilian singer who has been tipped as a future star on a level with the likes of Shakira and Jennifer Lopez. She's enjoyed global success with hits like "Downtown" with J Balvin and the Alesso song "Is That For Me". She's now set to perform a huge show at the Royal Albert Hall in London on Thursday 28 June.

Q&A with Anitta

Hi Anitta! What do you think is behind the boom in UK and US interest for Latin American music?

I think “Despacito”'s boom last year opened many doors to reggaeton and other rhythms from Latin America. It was a great change! The world got more interested in listening to music in another language. After that moment, many other great latin artist got the opportunity to show their music around as the world started consuming it.

What does reggaeton music mean to you and how do you think it has developed over the past 5-10 years?

Reggaeton is amazing. I've been studying this rhythm for a long time now. It he past 5-10 years, reggaeton grew a lot and reached many places all over the world. It's awesome it had that much recognition.

Do you think there’s a danger that UK/US artists will/are trying to ‘cash in’ on Latin American music’s popularity without really appreciating the music, culture and history?

I think music is a great way of helping people to get to know a country's culture. Maybe there will be few artist interested in “cashing in”, but it's not what I see from most people I have worked with.

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What are some up and coming artists you think fans should check out?

I'll say some of my fellow Latin singers, like Ludmilla, Nego do Borel and Lali Espósito

How are you feeling about playing the Royal Albert Hall?

I'm super excited!! It's a dream coming true. It'll be great to connect with my London fans.

Q&A with Bomba Estéreo

Hey guys! What do you think is behind the boom in UK and US interest for Latin American music?

People around the world as internet info is so fast are always seeking for fresh sounds and fresh ideas. At the same time , Dance music has become a mainstream genre. So Latin music has both, freshness and dancing.

We evolved from making very complex rhythms like Salsa which were not so easy to dance for foreign people , to more simple and strong rhythms like reggaetón and electronic Cumbia that are more common for people who don’t speak Spanish or aren’t close to tropical dance scenes.

Reggaetón is easier to dance than Salsa, you don’t need classes to do it , and it can play in any club around the world. At the same time social media and the huge impact this new music has on it, has played a huge role as well.

What does reggaeton music mean to you and how do you think it has developed over the past 5 -10 years?

It’s one of the styles that our musically immense Caribbean region has given to the world. As Salsa or Reggae did years ago, but in a social media era. It’s a blend of genres (reggae, dance hall, hip hop). We’re a blended culture here in Latin America so what we do in music is blend. And that the freshness.

It has evolved fortunately in smarter lyrics , before it was all about macho ego and sex, which was really dumb, now they’re speaking about other stuff. It has evolved also towards more interesting musical approaches, incorporating electronic aesthetics as the ones Bomba Estéreo has been experimenting years ago

Do you think there’s a danger that UK/US artists will/are trying to ‘cash in’ on Latin American music’s popularity without really appreciating the music, culture and history?

Could be... There’s always a smell of this kind of approach when first world tries to take from third world . Its kind of the world’s history, a fucked up colonial way of dealing with culture. But that’s the dark side to see things.

On the more positive side I see it just Latin music, which has been for centuries strong (not just this current trend) taking over the world. And that’s good for us cause it helps develop our young music industry. Besides it’s always good to have an image of a country around music , besides drug trafficking and war. And I’m talking here specifically about Colombia , which is the top of this whole iceberg of Latin music that is trendy now all over the world.

What are some up and coming artists you think fans should check out?

I really love what Nicola Cruz from Ecuador is making and Mitu from Colombia.

Anitta performs at the Royal Albert Hall on 28 June - tickets available here - Bomba Esterio perform at XOYO in London on 16 July - tickets available here

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