Cumbiamuffin: Bringing the sounds of Colombia down under

Cumbiamuffin: Bringing the sounds of Colombia down under

Producing a contagious Colombian sound rarely heard on Australian shores, Sydney-based band Cumbiamuffin has brought together 15 hard-working musicians to challenge conventional ideas when it comes to Latin-American music.

Founded by Colombian-born guitarist Carlos Arango and Australian trombonist Michael Raper, the band has performed together across the country for years, bringing the joy of Colombian Cumbia to Australian audiences.

“It’s really joyful music… and the rhythm is quite basic while the melodies are quite complex, which is what makes it really interesting,” Carlos said.

Just from the first song, you’re bound to have people up and dancing.

“You can dance as a couple or by yourself, there are no steps to it, it’s just happy music and I think that’s why Cumbia is so popular now… around the world, everyone is making Cumbia.”

Cumbia’s origins stem from the Caribbean coast on the north of Colombia, and it has since transformed to a fusion of African beats, indigenous melodies, and European and North American instrumentals.

Since forming the band, Carlos and Michael have drawn inspiration from some of Colombia’s first musicians to take Cumbia to other countries, namely Lucho Bermudez, who was the first to interpret the traditional rhythms of Colombia for orchestra.

“I’m a fan of music and as a Latin-American, I understand the richness of South American and Latin-American music… it’s so rich, and we’re very limited with what comes to Australia in that sense,” Carlos explained.

“It’s just exposing Australia to another rhythm and try to change that Latin-American stereotype of salsa, and feathers, and dancing and all that.

It doesn’t matter what stage we’re playing on, it doesn’t matter what sound system we have, and what songs we’re playing, the sound is just massive as a big band and that really excites me.

Despite sometimes struggling to fit all 15 band members on stage, Cumbiamuffin regularly comes together throughout the year to play at various venues and festivals.

For the second year in a row, Cumbiamuffin are headlining the popular Bondi Latin American Festival on Sunday March 17, 2019 at Bondi Pavilion.

“Last year, it was packed and people loved the music, so we’re really looking forward to do it all again,” Carlos said.

I also want to get the band in the recording studio to finish an EP this year, because we’ve already got a few songs recorded, and we want to do more and more original music. We’ve actually already got enough original songs that we can put together for an album.

If you want a taste of Cumbiamuffin before catching them at the Bondi Latin American Festival, the band will be performing at Sydney’s music space Venue 505 on February 8. Click HERE for more details or to book tickets.

Check out the Cumbiamuffin website HERE, and like their Facebook page HERE and follow their Instagram HERE.

Anisha Mistry

As the Editor of CulturalPulse, Anisha is passionate about listening to, writing and sharing stories of Australia's multicultural achievement. Got a story to tell? Get in touch: [email protected]