Rooted in Colombia and based in New York, Combo Chimbita lives in the future. Powerhouse vocalist Carolina Oliveros, synth and bassist Prince of Queens, guitarist Niño Lento, and drummer Dilemastronauta began experimenting with different traditional musical styles during latenight residencies at Barbès in Brooklyn. Exploring Afro-Caribbean styles through improvisational long-form trips, Combo Chimbita came together as a four-piece band after they started encouraging more vocals by Oliveros, who tightens the rhythm with her guacharaca. “Her voice is so powerful that it leads us in that direction,” says Prince of Queens.
The band draws on “traditional music from everywhere: Panama, Caribbean, Colombia, tamboritos, ‘70s funaná from Cape Verde, kompa from Haiti, cumbia, dub and reggae from Jamaica. We try to incorporate it in a way that if feels ours, so you hear these influences there but they come from our background, and our background is heavy rock, psychedelic funk and soul,” says guitarist Niño Lento. As Prince of Queens puts it: “Combo Chimbita is like a comeback to that raw punk energy, back to where it all started for me. But then obviously with the elements that we’ve grown to love and appreciate: the African diaspora and Caribbean and South America.”