Come check out Peruvian band Novalima at U Street Music Hall (1115 U St NW Washington, D.C. 20009) on August 2! Go to http://www.930.com/event/327539-novalima-washington/ for tickets and more info.
Since its formation in 2001, Novalima has been breaking down boundaries, uniting seemingly irreconcilable genres, communities and generations to create an inspiring movement that has revolutionized the music scene in their native Peru. Founded by four friends from Lima with a shared passion for both traditional Afro-Peruvian music and modern DJ culture, Novalima searches for the common ground between past and future, between tradition and innovation. Their efforts have also helped bridge the divide between the Peruvian mainstream and the Afro-Peruvian community, a minority population that has struggled against discrimination and the threat of cultural dissolution for generations. Outside of Peru, Novalima has garnered critical acclaim from mainstream and underground media alike, a Latin Grammy nomination for Best Alternative Album, and a featured spot in cult filmmaker Robert Rodriguez’s hit Mexploitation movie Machete
While their sound is futuristic and cutting-edge, the roots of Novalima’s music stretch back hundreds of years to the times of slavery and Spanish colonial rule. In a far-too-familiar tale, African slaves were brought to Peru as early as the 1500s until the middle of the 19th Century, establishing an outpost of African culture in South America. Over the years, the soul and rhythms of Africa blended with the melodies and instruments of Europe and the Andes. The result is rich musical repertoire that has existed for generations on the periphery of Peruvian popular culture.
The founders of Novalima, Ramon Perez-Prieto, Grimaldo Del Solar, Rafael Morales, and Carlos Li Carrillo, became friends and started playing in bands together while in high school in Lima, playing a pivotal part in the underground hardcore punk scene in the 80s, and the psycodelic/acid rock scene during the 90s. The children of artists and intellectuals, Ramon, Grimaldo, Rafael and Carlos were well educated and well traveled, and while they listened to traditional Peruvian folk music regularly in family reunions and in the street, they shared a fascination for rock, dub reggae, latin and electronic music, constantly exploring new sounds. Indeed, without modern technology, Novalima might not have developed, as the group came together at a time when the four founders were each living in different parts of the world. From their homes in London, Barcelona, Hong Kong and Lima, they started emailing song ideas to each other. These long-distance experiments resulted in their 2002 debut album, the self-titled Novalima.
The reception to the album exceeded their wildest expectations, eventually reaching platinum sales status in Peru, and for their next album they invited more Afro-Peruvian musicians to join their recording sessions. The outcome was Afro, an album that was released worldwide in 2006 to tremendous acclaim and put Novalima on the international music map. The London Metro Evening Standard raved, “Novalima has more than succeeded in bringing the spirit and soul of Peruvian blues into the 21st century.” Afro held the #1 spot on the US College Music Journal Latin Alternative and New World radio charts for ten weeks combined.
The founders of Novalima have since returned to Lima and invited some of their favorite Afro-Peruvian musicians to build the live show, which set the scene for a string of legendary festival performances around the world such as Roskilde, WOMAD, Pirineos Sur and Chicago’s Millenium Park.