Los Niños Telepáticos are a very Bogotano band, and a perfect choice to open Festival Estéreo Picnic. We talked about contrasts in life and music, as well as the festival itself.
“Bogotá is a city of contrasts,” says Antonio Cortés from Los Niños Telepáticos. His band expresses that in their music, moving effortlessly through musical styles and emotional feelings in much the same way as the weather twists and changes through each Bogotano day. His bandmate Nicolás Mejía is with him for this interview, and they both take turns to jump in for different questions.
“I love the city,” says Nicolás. “Although it’s so hard and so difficult for so many people. There’s so much desperation, but also a charm to it. You have to learn to live with the chaos, if you want to live here.” He agrees about the contrasts. “The whole range of colours that Bogotá can give you, this grey, chaotic, smokey city but then 30 minutes away these beautiful mountains and water and forest.”
Antonio agrees, “Some days it’s so shiny, the sun and the mountains, it’s so beautiful. But then it’s Saturday night, everyone’s partying and there’s rain everywhere, you see dark things. I think we all have that inside of us.”
Although the third album is still in the studio, they’ve clocked up nearly a decade together. In that time they’ve moved from jazzlike experimental noodling towards psychedelic rumblings reminiscent of the Desert Sessions. Two singles have already been released: Rocal and Imágenes.
Antonio recognises the change in their music, “It’s a different mood, this album. We’ve been trying to record it since 2020. I think you can hear it in Rocal. It’s more melancholic, it has sadness in the music.” Of course, Covid had a large impact, too as he continues, “It’s a main thing for us, on this third album, it’s part of the album.”
Nicolás takes over, saying, “It was an inspiration for the lyrics, for the music as well. The context we got from the pandemic, like isolation and other related subjects. The new album has a lot of that energy.” We can see that already with the singles, he says, “In the video for Rocal, everything’s indoors, it’s black and white, just like the pandemic.”
It’s a concept album in part, and Antonio explains, “The pandemia helped in the concept. There’s a main character in the album. He’s a call centre worker and he’s like ‘shit, I want to play Rocal with my band’ He’s bored of life. The pandemia gave us the need to make music that wasn’t so happy, there’s sadness, there’s depression.” Nicolás jumps in: “Nevertheless, songs like Imagenes are brighter, more enthusiastic, more poetic. It has both sides, this dark pandemic feeling, and a more enthusiastic couple of songs about young life.
This brings us back to the idea of contrasts, because the two singles are so different. “There’s a lot of contrasts,” says Antonio, “Rocal and Imagenes show that. There’s that dark side in one and the bright side in the other. That’s the album, really. I bring a really dark song, and then Nico brings in one that’s so happy. That’s our feeling right now, not everything is all so happy, but also not always dark. A lot of contrasts and bipolarity, like Bogotá.”
Bogotá alternates between rain and sun constantly, which is reflected in their music. “We have a couple of songs that are like hymns to joy and enjoying life, like Alma Fuerte from the first album. It’s about dealing with life in a joyful way, with lots of flavour and colour,” says Nico. “La Ciencia de la Paz is about patience and being OK with returning to old places.” Then there are the darker songs, says Antonio “Rocal is one of them, then our next new song is very sad too. Girasol is very beautiful, but it’s dark, Diablo, too.”
Excitingly, Antonio says they’ll debut some of the upcoming album’s songs at Festival Estéreo Picnic. “We have three songs we have been rehearsing, that we have ready for the picnic, that’s like our joker in the pack. People want the old songs, but we have prepared new songs for them, and not just for the people, but for us as well. Nico adds, “…going to places we haven’t been before. There’s going to be a lot of new music in the show”
“That’s what we want to do,” says Antonio. “To give the people at the Picnic something new, something different. Everyone in Bogotá loves Estéreo Picnic and I think after the pandemic it’s gonna be huge. After two years of waiting, everyone’s excited.” Nicolás talks about other bands: “People have a lot of expectations, I think the line-up is very interesting. It’s for all musical tastes, from Binomio del Oro to Nile Rodgers. I think it’s going to be a huge thing, the first festival since the pandemic.”
If you’re going to Festival Estéreo Picnic 2022, catch the Niños Telepáticos at 3:15 on Friday afternoon, opening the main stage. If you’re not lucky enough to catch them there, keep an eye out for upcoming gigs.