Medellin‘s Boqui-Toquis is an indie-rock-surf-punk band born in the beginning of 2009, formed by four friends. Colombia Reports talked to lead singer Miguel Laverde to learn more about the band and its music.
Who are you and where are you from?
It all started when Tomas and Simon Restrepo both attended a music academy called Staff, and Sebastian and I attended a music academy called Solo Rock. We were all friends and after a while the idea of making a band was born when we all concluded that our musical interests were very similar.
What style do you play?
Our style is not well defined, we don’t like to enclose ourselves in a music genre or style, but even though we take influences of almost everything we listen to, our main roots are indie, rock, punk music, and surf.
We are from Medellin, we hang around, rehearse and live in the El Poblado area. The music style that we play is not quite common in our city, that’s why we started. We want that style to grow in some sort of a way.
Why do you sing in English rather than your native Spanish?
The main reason we sing in English is because my main influences are English music and English literature. And even though Spanish is my native language, and it is a beautiful and rich language, I find it hard for me to truly express myself to other places where they speak in Spanish mainly because of the slang. It could give words a different meaning from what I want to express. The words that I use could have a different meaning, so that could cause a misunderstanding. And, on the other hand, nowadays everywhere in the world they know English, even if it is pretty basic. You can go everywhere knowing nothing but English and survive. It’s basic. It gives us access to the rest of the world.
Is indie music popular in Medellin?
In the city of Medellin it’s quite difficult to do our kind of music. People don’t pay for concerts – and that’s without talking about paying for records or CDs – so it makes it hard for new bands to evolve, unless they play neo-Punk, Metal, or Reggae, which are like the main genres that the rock scene in Medellin has always been used to. Our music is a bit more exclusive. It doesn’t abandon its rock roots, but it’s made for a more selective audience. The indie rock scene in Medellin is growing, it’s not new, it has always existed, but it’s not really obvious. Anyway, I’m not the right person to talk about scenes and genres. I don’t like to enclose myself in genres or tendencies. I’m pretty open-minded when it comes to music or styles, so I would rather differentiate music by the one that sounds good, and the one that does not sound good, hahaha, but to be honest we can say that since we’ve been around there are a whole lot of other bands coming out as well.
Which places in Medellin do you go to for inspiration?
It’s hard to define places that inspire us. Most of our inspiration comes from life experiences, movies, other music, good and evil, etc. Most of our ideas develop when we are rehearsing or spending time in the studio.
In what ways does ‘being Colombian’ have an impact on your work?
Being Colombian gives us a great advantage. We have the Latin flavor and rhythm, and we also have the indigenous mischief that allows us to be less predictable and more surprising music. We also get some inspiration from famous Colombian characters – some of them well socially accepted and the rest of them not that much. The violence and danger that Colombia has gone through all its history inspires us as well.
What are your favorite venues to play in Medellin and why?
We have played all over the city, and we try to do it as best we possibly can during every show. There are some concerts that we will never forget because of the energy. We would dare to say that our favorite place to play was Fabula Deli Bar, in Parque del Poblado. It was like our home, where it all started, and every time we played there we were sure that it was always going to be full of people, like friends, followers, and new people that were just about to find out about the band.
Who are your other favorite Colombian musicians?
In general, the band likes a wide variety of different music from Vallenato (Diomedez Diaz, Dinomio de Oro) Guasca music and Rancheras (Giovanny Ayala, Jhonny Rivera), Salsa (Fruko y Sus Tesos) – in fact one of our songs called “Mambo” is inspired by Fruko y Sus Tesos – to Hip Hop (Ultrajala, La Etnia), Punk (IRA, Los Suxioz, Rodrigo D). My personal favorite Colombian artists are Pornomotora, Camila Lopez, Parlantes, Bajo Tierra, Señor Naranjo, El Globo, among other music.
What is you EP, The Boqui-Toquis EP, about?
It is 4 songs long and our first high quality recording. You can download it for free from internet, or if you go to one of our concerts we usually give it at the entrance. We would love it if you downloaded it and told us what you thought of it. For the EP to be successful we have to spread it like a virus everywhere so people can listen to it all around the world, hahaha!
Julián Esteban Torres López is an editor, writer, researcher, and educator with nearly two decades’ experience working with publications, historical societies, and cultural and research institutions, and has held leadership positions in the academe, the arts, journals, the business sector, and history museums. You can follow him on Twitter.