Next up in our series on Colombian bands at Festival Estéreo Picnic 2022, we’re chewing the fat with Babelgam, electro-clash punks with a pop edge.
I sit in a café in the capital’s posh 93 with my photographer, struggling with the QR menú and waiting for Juan Tuaty, lead singer of Babelgam. It’s not the sort of place I expected to meet him, and when he arrives he stands out – dressed all in black against the bright yet bland colours of this Scandi-chic café. He greets us warmly, but still seems as out of context as you’d expect a young punk from Suba to be.
He instantly name checks the likes of Turnstile, which is no surprise for a hardcore kid. “I really want to see their show, it’s one of the ones I most want to see in the festival,” he says, before switching musical styles completely, adding, “Caribou, too, is a project that has influenced me a lot.” This seems in keeping with a band that in just four years has covered a wide range of genres. I’ve been mildly fascinated by the lyrical content of Babelgam for a while, since the song Hikikomori came to my attention a few years ago.
Babelgam’s doom-pop genre
Musically, Babelgam are sort of dark electro-clash for the main part, but with some punkier undertones on earlier recordings like the aforementioned Hikikomori. “They call us doom-pop, or dolor cachaco as well,” says Juan, “but doom-pop is the word I prefer, it’s a genre of pop that soaks up a lot of things, a palette of many influences. Hikikomori is a different song, a very punky burst of energy.”
Z-11 is the song he picks out as a favourite. “It covers everything we’ve done and explored, and Klan-destino as well. We’re consumers and producers of music as well, it’s like an art project. We’re influenced by many things: the different members of the band have their own styles, but also film, graphic designers, fashion trends influence the band. And obviously we live in a chaotic city like Bogotá, which is our muse.”
Babelgam and Festival Estéreo Picnic 2022
The show they have planned for Festival Estéreo Picnic 2022 sounds special. Projections and a light show are more than you might expect for the 4th stage, but that’s what’s coming. Juan is happy with their time, “This edition, Sunday is the best day for me,” he says. “We’re sharing a lineup with Doja Cat, with King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Turnstile. It’s a show a little more expensive than others we’ve done, but we’re ready for bigger stages.”
The conversation jumps, predictably, to the Festival Estéreo Picnic 2022 itself. Juan’s been a few times as a spectator. “This is my first time as an artist, I’ve always been on the spectator’s side. They’ve always had bands that I’ve loved from the internet, and always bands on the lineup that have been surprises too. I’ve discovered so many bands I love through the festival. This year will have so much energy, a new generation after two years away.”
Briela Ojeda and Los Niños Telepáticos are on his must-see list of local bands, alongside Piel Camaleón who he says have “a perfect live show,” Ela Minus and Diamante Eléctrico. Having been booked to play in 2020, this has been a long wait for the band. “We were excited to be called when we had only launched an EP, a very rocky, guitar-based sound. Then we went much more electro, and they’ve called us again. Now we’re a much more complete band than we were after the first EP.”
As for their performance at Festival Estéreo Picnic 2022, Juan excitedly promises, “You’ll see a miscellanea, a sancocho, a market, a mix of sounds, of images. You’ll encounter a real visual and sonic experience.” Make sure you catch Babelgam on the Páramo Presenta stage at 4:45pm on Sunday.