Harmonic Relations – Aterciopelados is Still Center Stage

 

 

The Colombian rock group Aterciopelados has been a force in the international music scene for over twenty years.  When they ventured out under the name Delia y Los Aminoacidos, the rock scene in Bogota had not yet been fully developed, which worked to their advantage, allowing the band to experiment with their look, sound and lyrics.

 

In 1993 the band’s name was changed to Aterciopelados (The Velveteen Kids), and they attracted the attention of the Mexican label BMG who was scouting for new Colombian bands that sang in Spanish as opposed to English; a departure from what other Latin groups were doing in order to break into the “mainstream” Anglo market.  When Aterciopelados agreed to cut their debut album with the label, it was an experiment and the recording was done on a very low budget.  “Como el corazon en la mano” released in 1994, displayed the influence of hardcore punk, salsa, bossanova, carriler and other musical styles on their early work, and the unique compositions the act would become famous for.  Since then the journey for Andrea Echeverri and Hector Buitrago a/k/a Conector, has been one of collaboration, isolation, determination and reincarnation. 

 

When their first single hit the airways Aterciopelados was at once familiar and alien to the radio audience.  No one could have anticipated that this quasi-independent effort would catapult the band to international notoriety and sell 100,000 records - a remarkable achievement for Colombia musicians during that time. 

 

While Conector and Echeverri attended the prestigious Universidad de Los Andes at the same time, they didn’t know each other.  Echeverri was studying art and Conector concentrated on engineering.  The idea that some meetings in life are pre-destined, or fated could definitely be applied to when Conector and Echeverri met at a mutual friend’s party in La Candelaria (the most historical district of Bogota and a center of creativity).  As Conector explained there was “…an aesthetic attraction…” that drew the pair to each other.  At that time Conector was writing music for a punk band but was growing tired of the scene and wanted to experiment with different genres.  “In those days, punk was very violent and self-involved in Bogota and Medellin, and I wanted to leave [the punk movement].”  Echeverri was writing her own music, which would prove to be singular. The pair started to collaborate and then formed a band with a guitarist who soon left. The two decided to continue together – both romantically and professionally.  Although their romance ended some time ago, the relationship seems to have deepened and now conveys something more palpable and profound – a sense of deep human, spiritual and artistic connection and affection. 

  

When Bogota Brilliance met with the duo in the vibrant house that serves as their office and recording studio in the Teusaqillo district of Bogota, the pair received us with open arms, hearts and minds.  This greeting and the way in which they related to us was confirmation that the music they make is a true reflection of who they are in their souls and not just created for show as is the case with some other performers. 

 

Even though Bogota boasted many live music venues in 1993, Buitrago and Echeverri felt there was a need for a new space where bands could perform and they opened Barbere, a bar that could fit up to 300 people in La Candelaria.  Barbere soon became the place where artists performing various musical genres such as Rock Española and New Wave could show off their acts. 

 

The group’s second album “El Dorado” is considered not only to be one of the best Colombian, but also Latin American, rock albums ever produced.  Due to the album’s success Echeverri was invited by the group Soda Stereo to appear with them on MTV Unplugged, which led to MTV Latin America showing Aterciopelados videos through its distribution chain.  The visual interpretations and strong lyrics of songs like Sortilegio and Mujer gala from “Como el corazon en la mano,” and Florecita and Bolero falaz (their first international success) from “El Dorado” distinguished the group not only from their peers within Colombia, but also from the music scenes in the United States and Europe. 

 

Sortilegio 

 

 

Bolero falaz

 

 

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