Festival Estéreo Picnic 2024: Anamaría Oramas has no words but plenty of vibes

By Oli Pritchard March 20, 2024
Anamaría Oramas promo photo by Gato Jazz for Festival Estéreo Picnic 2024
Anamaría Oramas. Photo by Gato Jazz

No lyrics, lots of strings and a ton of creativity are the components of Anamaría Oramas’ strikingly different musical offering for Festival Estéreo Picnic 2024. Her unique sound stands apart from virtually everyone else on the bill.

Anamaría describes her music as “Jazz Colombiano, jazz inspired by the traditional music of the coasts. A lot of gaita, fandango, drums too.” It’s a dizzying whirl of exuberant melodies, with ethereal strings and woodwind crashing into heavy rhythms.

While the Colombian folkloric element is important, she’s adamant that it remains in the jazz camp. “It’s jazz because it has improvisation and modern elements too. Jazz allows for everything, even crazy things. There’s not a structure to a piece of work, so we’re always open to new things.”

Anamaría Oramas is the name of the band, but it’s a team effort, she says: “We are 4, with the woman I’m bringing in on drums. There’s a feminine essence that’s important for the team and for me. Not just on the stage, but also the whole chain of work behind the scenes.”

Her feminist sentiments are backed up by concrete actions, too: “With the money that I receive for work. I always like to give a high percentage to the feminine population. It’s important to involve women in the economy, not just to exhibit them on stage.”

Gaitas are an important part of Colombian culture

Perhaps the most jazz thing of all is to totally remove the need for a singer, not even scat, which she acknowledges is not for everyone: “It’s instrumental music, which is pretty uncommon. In general people like to listen to vocals, but I’m not a songwriter, I’ve never gone into that world.”

At first, she takes the Colombian Mum explanation for eschewing vocals. “I don’t have lyrics porque no,” she says. But then she explains a bit more: “Lyrics can condition you into how you should feel. You might be listening to a melody that’s very joyful, but if the words are about death or whatever the song will make you feel sad.”

I ask if she might change that and she quickly slaps it down, stating with certainty: “For the moment no, I’m happy with what I’m doing.” Why change a winning formula, after all? For people willing to challenge themselves musically, Anamaría Oramas is a wonderful place to start, with her deep and complex sound.

Anamaría Oramas explains the importance of getting high

A lack of lyrics certainly doesn’t mean a lack of emotion. In fact, Anamaría sees it exactly the other way around, describing her work as, “Spiritual and with ritual.” She adds, “I really want my music to invite you to a ritual of the body, that invites you to dance. Movement connects you to the music through your body.”

She loves the freedom and individual connection with instrumental music: “I think it can refresh you because there aren’t so many words. I want my music to allow people to feel whatever they like, the interpretation is different for each person.” 

That freedom isn’t simply musical but also in terms of spiritual awakenings. “We have a strong connection to psilocybin and psychedelics,” she says with admirable candour. She continues, “The conscience that’s within me, I hope the music can transmit that.”

Is she saying that a tab of acid is the best way to unlock the secrets of her music? “Um…it could be!” she replies with a wink. “It’s an option. It’s not necessary, but it also helps. Drugs are fine, with responsibility, obviously. I don’t consume all drugs, but when I take acid it opens lots of cerebral paths that have helped me in life, with empathy and human relations.”

Her attitude to drug use is sensible, admirable and above all careful. She is clear that she’s not advocating abuse, but informed experimentation: “Good, responsible use at certain times, I recommend to many people. It allows you to make better communication with other humans.”

Spirituality and ritual are an important part of Anamaría Oramas’ music

What is there to look forward to in her Festival Estéreo Picnic 2024 show? “I’m going to work with a VJ that works with themes like plants and yage. There’s a strong message and a lot of content. It’s going to be very psychedelic with lots of psilocybin.”

What better reason could there be to get down early on Friday for this irrepressibly irreverent jazz junkie? You certainly won’t find anyone else on the bill that sounds anything like Anamaría Oromas. It’s the lineup’s most interesting and experimental act by quite some distance.

Anamaría Oramas plays at 3.30pm on Friday March 22 on the CeraVe stage at Festival Esteréro Picnic 2024 in Parque Simón Bolívar. Tickets still available here at time of publication.