Exclusive: Chocquibtown’s First Stateside Interview After Winning Latin Grammy

Talk about never forgetting where you came from. Last Thursday, hip-hop trio Chocquibtown nabbed a Latin Grammy for Best Alternative Song for “De Donde Vengo Yo,” a track honoring their hometown of Quibdo on Colombia’s Pacific coast. They celebrated the win by performing the song in front of a packed audience at the awards show, letting everyone know that where they come from “things aren’t easy but we still survive.” We got a chance to talk to female emcee Goyo and here’s what she had to say:

Congratulations! You guys got together a decade ago and here you are with a Latin Grammy. How does that feel?
It’s very special. Not only for us, but for what it signifies to our hometown. It’s the visibility that we’ve always wanted for Choco, where we were born. That region is largely ignored and has a lot of poverty and political problems. We’ve always talked about that in our music because we’re from there, our families are from there and that’s where we were raised.

How was the celebration in Quibdo, where you all met each other?
We were going to go this weekend but there’s been strong rain and the airport was closed. Everyone called us, including leaders, saying that they’d like to organize a welcome party. People are really happy. After we won, people started buying t-shirts with our picture on it receiving the Latin Grammy. We’re so excited that we could share such joy with our people.

What was the inspiration for the song “De Donde Vengo Yo”?
One day we were sitting on the street in Quibdo, watching everyone go by in motorcycles. At night we went out with some friends and ate fried chicken and came up with the idea to create a song about where we come from and show people the things that we sometimes don’t see because we’re too immersed in the culture. It’s meant to be sarcastic. In the song we talk about the many displaced people in Choco and we also say that we’re proud to be from there.

How did it feel to sing the song at the Latin Grammys?
We’ve played in many places and we knew that the Latin Grammys is really important but we didn’t want to concentrate on that. We didn’t want to sing with dancers because we wanted to show the public who Chocquibtown really is.

Well, you looked great in your white dress and blue turban.
It was an homage to the African diaspora because we’re descended from Africa. On Colombia’s Pacific coast ninety-percent of the people are descended from Africa so it was an homage to my land, as well.

What did you do after the awards?
We went to our hotel room and we sat down for a little white to think and meditate. Then we went to a party thrown by People magazine. We just went for a little while because we had to catch a 5 a.m. flight the next day. But we’re really happy. We got a big welcome at the airport here in Bogotá.

When can we expect another album?
We’re working on it with a lot of love and rhythm. We hope to have it out by March.

What can you tell us about it?
We’re trying to be a bit more minimalist with the songs; trying not to include as many instruments just the ones that are needed. We’re also talking to urban music artists and Colombian folklore singers that we really love and would like to collaborate with. Some are ninety-percent confirmed.