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Infusing Global Beats with 

Colombian Passion in Austin

Story: Jennifer Rolf

Photo: Cory Weaver

It’s no secret that Austin is a breeding ground for musical talent; a magical place that draws musicians from all over the world to perform, record and, for some, plant roots. For those who don’t originally hail from the “Live Music Capital of the World,” there’s a chance they formed musical alliances there that turned into something truly special. This is the case for Nemegata, a band of unrelated brothers with Colombian roots who met in Austin. Together they form a sound that blends traditional Colombian melodies and percussion with African and Caribbean psychedelic rock influences. 


We caught up with the power trio that is Víctor-Andrés Cruz (“El Guámbito”—lead vocals, electric guitar, synth, Colombian percussion), César Valencia (“I Nova”—bass, synth, Colombian percussion, vocals) and Fabián Rincón (“Don Fabo”—drums, synth drums, vocals) before their first-ever set at Austin City Limits Music Festival on the heels of the release of their sophomore album, Voces.

BTT: How did you find each other?


César: We met here in Austin. Playing with other musicians around, being in the studios. And one day, Victor showed up and said, hey, I have this [idea]. You wanna participate? 


Victor: So through music, and just touring and touring. I used to fly from New York to Austin to do shows. And we would meet here to play with other projects, and we just became really good friends on the road.


BTT: How long have you been making music? When did you first start recording?


Victor: The first recording I made was in New York on my own with some friends there. I already had the idea for the band, and I used this 4-track cassette recorder and put out a 7-inch vinyl. And that’s what I brought here. I had some ideas for other songs, and when we started rehearsing and putting all the songs together, the actual formation of the band happened in 2019. And then all of those songs that I brought we kind of arranged together playing live; that was the first album, which dropped in 2020 (called Hycha Wy).


BTT: So you kind of had your beginnings during the pandemic, I guess you could say. What kind of challenges did it pose? Were you able to get together and make music?


Victor: Yeah, that was kind of like what started the album Voces. Because we dropped the previous album in 2020, and when we got all the vinyl records—it actually took longer to press because all the plants were closed—and when we finally got them, it was lockdown.


Before that, we had a bunch of dates, like a little tour through the Midwest, like Chicago, the surrounding areas, even Kansas City. We had to cancel all of that. We just basically had to release the music online like everyone else was doing.



BTT: Who are some of your biggest musical influences?


Victor: Fundamentally, what we follow is traditional Colombian music: cumbia, bullerengue, puya from the Caribbean, and many, many others, like música pelayera. But also from the mountains, from the Andes, there’s a lot of pasillo and bambuco. From the south, there’s different things with flutes and drums, and on the Pacific Coast, there’s currulao and bunde, a lot of different rhythms. 


All the different regions have different traditions, and we get inspired by that. We play some of that music for ourselves. And there are musicians within those communities that we follow, that we have learned from. And in the more contemporary world, a lot of the Latin American musicians that have experimented with psychedelic music, like in South America and in the Caribbean and also in Africa, particularly the music that was made in the ’60s and ’70s. 


BTT: Like afrobeat?


Victor: Yeah, like afrobeat, like highlife, pop makossa, desert blues, and then things like kompa from Haiti, chicha from Peru, champeta from the Caribbean and Colombia. The common thread is electric guitar, that format, but kind of filtered through all these cultures.


BTT: Last question: What is your favorite Colombian dish? 


Victor: Ajiaco for me. 


Fabián: I’m from Bogota, so ajiaco. 


César: I’ll pick up the arepa…arepa con todo, with everything. 


Fabián: Bandeja paisa from Medellin. It’s a big plate, a lot of food. 


BTT: Thank you guys so much.

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