Chico Trujillo are punks at the depths of their hearts. That may not much sense at first glance, because there seems to be a great divide between the fierce, ramshackle guitar riffs of punk rock and the Chilean cumbia company’s easy-going soundscapes. What really makes Aldo Asenjo and the rest of his gang rebels, though, is their anarchic approach to the dogmas of cumbia.
Just as salsa dominates the dance floors of the Caribbean, its more popular cousin cumbia has long held the same position along South America’s west coast. At the turn of the millennium, however, Chico Trujillo and several other Chilean groups were about to doze off at the night clubs, because of the leisurely pace and tone of the genre. Thus Asenjo and company paved a new path for Latin American dance music: the New Chilean Cumbia movement. Simply by seasoning cumbia with elements from ska, diabolic diablada and gypsy punk – aye, nothing but a little energy – Chico Trujillo had created something genuinely fresh.
So it is, perhaps, not so surprising that the party of eight has acquired followers also outside the oblong borders of Chile; there are many who have fallen for their ecstatic and irreverent musical cocktail, which has led the band to major festivals like Roskilde, Loolapalooza y Viva Latino. But first and foremost, the project has a locally rooted objective: to revive the Chilean people’s funky, party spirit! Their cumbia chilombiana is boundless and gets through to audiences of all ages, shapes and backgrounds!
Text: Kim Klev