Divino Niño rebuild their sound for maximum danceability

It starts at the hips — that’s the first thing you’ll notice when you look Divino Niño play live. The Chicago-based five-piece can’t seem to stand still on stage. First their flaunting hips loosen, then their long arms swing, and soon the musicians are completely unbound, a picture of freedom. To watch Divino Niño is to experience that freedom yourself: to move your body not because you came out ready to dance to anything, but because the group’s pulsing, hypnotic music reminded you how good it is.

Band’s debut album 2019, Foam, is ethereal and psychedelic, seamlessly gliding through beach rock, dream pop and indie rock, its pastiche held together by the soft, breathy vocals of guitarist-singer Camilo Medina and bassist-singer Javier Forer. When Medina, Forero, guitarist Guillermo Rodriguez and drummer Pierce Codina toured to support Foam In 2019 – adding keyboardist Justin “JV” Vittorio for the ride – they danced their way through set after set. They were surprised when the audience didn’t do the same. So when Divino Niño set out to record their next album, a new one The last spa on Earththey were determined to try something different.

“We realized that music is at a certain BPM for a reason,” Codina says, laughing. “There are certain sounds that just make people move. We started experimenting during our last tour right before the pandemic, playing our songs a little faster or improvising jams that were a little more danceable. It was a good start, but we wanted our next album to do it with more intent.”

Divino Niño, Little Jesus, Pieri
This show is a release party The last spa on Earth. Sun 9/10, 8pm, Lincoln Hall, 2424 N. Lincoln, $25, 18+

The last spa on Earth is more lively and energetic than Foam, with grooves that are almost frenetic. The tracks cover different sounds and genres: “Miami” cleverly mixes electronic sounds and beach pop; the effortlessly cool “XO” blends surreal psychedelic instrumentation and refreshingly languid rap; The slow-building, disco-inspired “Ecstasy” seems playful and ecstatic. What connects the 12 songs is not genre, style or instrumentation, but the sensation they evoke: if FoamThe danceability of the dance smolders beneath the surface and then beyond The last spa on Earth jumps to the fore.

Foam was written and recorded with all the band members in one room, but COVID forced them to make it The last spa on Earth in what they call a “collage” style. Unable to make music together during the early stages of the pandemic, they started writing and recording instrumental parts remotely and sending them to each other, then using a computer to put it all together into a song. “You make one part, then you add another part, and then you find yourself endlessly moving the Lego pieces around until you find harmony,” Medina explains. “And it’s a completely different puzzle than before.”

Guitarist-singer Camilo Medina created the artwork for The last spa on Earth.

Medina and Forero met in their shared hometown of Bogotá, Colombia, when they were young children, and later reconnected in Miami—Medina moved there when he was a teenager, and he had no idea Forero was around for several years was in town. . They first played music together in high school while involved in what Medina calls a “bad Christian cult.”

They both moved to Chicago for college, where Medina met Rodriguez at the School of the Art Institute. In the early 2010s, when Divino Niño started playing shows around Chicago, they felt their sound wasn’t full enough—instead of a drummer, they relied on electronic percussion loops. In 2014, they invited Codin into the fold to help deliver the delicious arrangements they are now known for. When Vittori toured with Divino Niño as a support player in 2019, he liked it enough to become a full member the following year.

Watching Divino Niño perform or even just sitting with them as a group, you can feel the special chemistry between the musicians. You’ll often see them smiling from across the stage or even hugging each other between songs. The band members clearly know that together they are greater than the sum of their parts.

“There’s a genius mentality that’s kind of American,” says Medina. “But honestly, this pandemic has brought us all to zero – we’re all on a level playing field. I realized, hell, I wanted to be that individual hero and genius, but now it’s so clear that we have to cooperate with everyone to survive. I used to think I could just do my own thing, but no, we’re all connected in this central network. Being in this band was a spiritual way of exploring the importance of collaboration, and at the end of the day, our sound is more colorful than anything I could have done on my own.”

“A lot of people probably feel like I do, like they need to live a little,” says Camilo Medina. “There is too much darkness in the world and I think we are all looking for deliverance.” credit: Matt Allen

This commitment to collaboration is part of what drew the band to Chicago. When they first arrived in town and didn’t know many people yet, they were confused about where they fit into the Chicago music scene. Today, they have a better understanding of the different artistic communities around the city, and still enjoy checking out local talent at the occasional late-night show – especially fond of the Empty Bottle.

“Lately, I feel like another door has opened to the Chicago music scene,” says Forero. “There’s a crazy house scene, there’s a techno scene. I think the city is very colorful in that perspective – you just have to know where to look.”

The last spa on Earth It feels more personal than Divina Ninja’s previous music: its themes include embracing loneliness, seeking catharsis after a period of desolation, and letting go of the guilt of a strict religious upbringing. As I write The last spa on Earth, Divino Niño became fascinated with neooperreo, a wild subgenre of reggaeton pioneered in many cases by women. Although the epicenter of the scene is online and not in a specific city or region, the main characters are located in Mexico, Chile, Spain and elsewhere. Divino Niño took inspiration from the likes Mrs. Nina, Bad Gyaland Argentinian group Ca7riel y Paco Amoroso, and the band was excited to put their own spin on the sound—which included writing more lyrics in Spanish.

When he was developing material for Foam, Forero did not feel confident using his mother tongue. “I think at the time, for me, I didn’t think Spanish could be cool when you’re singing,” he reflects. “I haven’t found my voice. These people opened the door: ‘Actually, you can do it like this, and it’s going to be really sick.’ That freed me up a lot.” The texts are almost all in Spanish The last spa on Earth.

Divino Niño have provided a more transparent window into their inner world with their recent music videos. The clip for “XO”, for example, it begins in what looks like a fairly typical Catholic church, but quickly turns into a scene of debauchery, with worshipers stripping down, dancing wildly, and even smoking bongs in the shape of baby Jesus. It’s a personal statement for Medina and Forer—a reaction to their painful, stifling experiences with Christianity as children. “We’re not saying, ‘Fuck you Catholic shit,’ it’s more like, ‘Yo, rethink everything,’ you know,” Medina says.

“XO” video, directed by Ambar Navarro

The new album is out—the end of a complicated process, further complicated by the pandemic—but Divino Niño still has a long way to go. They’re currently on tour in North America with Mexico City’s Little Jesus, and will hit Lincoln Hall for a party on Sunday, October 9th. They’ve already started playing their new music at concerts, and little by little, they say, listeners are starting to move.

“We played this festival in Wisconsin, and it was on a farm, but yo, it was like a party,” says Medina. “We lit that shit up. During the pandemic, I simply accumulated too much pent-up energy, because I am a social person. And then I went to a dance once and I thought, wow! I have a feeling that many people probably feel like I do, like they need to live a little. There is too much darkness in the world and I think we are all looking for deliverance.”

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