We caught up with Divino Niño as they prepare for the release of their new album later this year. The band’s latest single “Foam” recently came out, accompanied with a psychedelic music video that is true to their sound. Read about the artist behind the music video, what the three years since their last album has taught them, their upcoming tour, and more. Make sure to follow Divino Niño on their social medias below
Hey, we are Divino Niño. Our band consists of Camilo Medina (guitar/vocals), Javier Forero (bass/vocals), Guillermo Rodriguez (guitar/vocals), and Pierce Codina (drums).
The band started when Camilo and Javier when they met in Bogota, Colombia. You both later moved to Miami before coming to Chicago. What are the biggest influences from each city that still inspire you and your music today?
Javier: My biggest inspiration from Miami comes from the warm weather of Florida. When we moved here we started to pay attention to the rawness of Chicago. Over the years, I think the band has found a happy medium between the aggression of Chicago and the sweet and beachy vibes of Miami. Also, in Miami, there is a large techno and heavy metal scene. We learned to embrace the benefits of both and how to incorporate a little piece of every genre into our music.
Camilo: Miami was a good sense of community. The scene there is a lot smaller compared to what we have here in Chicago. There was instant support in Miami and the community sort of found us. When we moved to Chicago, I felt lost because it wasn’t the same instant sense of belonging. It took us a while to find our crowd here and to understand it, but now that we have found it the support has been incredible.
Divino Niño has made its mark as a bilingual band. How did the band decide to write songs in English and Spanish and what’re the advantages of being able to switch between the two?
Camilo: It personally wasn’t a decision for me. It was an intuitive process. The songs that come easier to me are the ones in English, but once in a while when I write a song in Spanish, it never is a conscious decision. I like being able to listen to songs in other languages and even if I can’t understand what they are saying, it can still provoke feelings and emotions. If people can pick up what we are singing and playing as a feeling rather than the meaning of the words I think we have made a great song.
What has the reaction been from those who understand the language of the lyrics and those who don’t?
Guillermo: At the very least people are able to say, “I love ‘Maria’,” which is an all Spanish song on our upcoming album. People are able to find a specific song they like whether they know the words or not because of the sounds of the instruments or the feeling and vibe it portrays.
Pierce: We have actually found that most people that don’t speak Spanish say their favorite song is “Maria” off of the new album. It is cool to hear feedback like that because you know they are understanding the point of the song without understanding the words.
Javier: Honestly, it’s our parents who don’t like our Spanish songs because they actually understand what we are saying, but if our parents disapprove it is a good sign.
Camilo: To be fair our Spanish tracks are a little more raunchy and sexual so from a parent perspective it makes sense they wouldn’t like it.
In November you signed with the record label, Winspear. In the digital age, what made you decide to sign with a label?
Pierce: It was all based on who we would be willing to work with. The guys at Winspear, Ben, and Jared, have been awesome and they are as enthusiastic about the music business as we are about making music so it makes it easy to work with them. We know how to book shows, but Ben and Jared are passionate about it and pay closer attention to what opportunities are available and possible for us.
Javier: Watching them work is fascinating because they treat the record label as their own art form.
Guillermo: Which I think allows them to not treat us as a product. They are very personable and let us produce our own visions and have complete creative control.
Last week you released a single along with a video for “Foam.” How did you decide what song to release first and what tone did you want this song to preview for the rest of the album?
Camilo: We wanted a song that was easy to digest and something that caught your attention right away. When “Foam” starts it is punchy.
Javier: The band also aimed to release something that was fresh since we haven’t released music since 2016. That’s a lot of passing time and we wanted to show that during those three years we never stopped evolving.
Also the video goes along well with the psychedelic music you are known to make. Who thought of the idea for it?
Camilo: There is a young French guy named Thami that I found on Instagram and his designs fascinated me. He was making animations that were so fucked up and experimental that it took me to a whole other level. He hadn’t done much work professionally, but we were excited to ask him to give our music video a shot. It came out better than I expected it to. Hopefully, this can get him more jobs because I think he is a genius.
Javier: My mom watched the video and the first thing she asked me was if we were on drugs. It is psychedelic and you honestly can’t just watch it once because you won’t be able to fully grasp it. It is sensory overload in the best way possible.
Guillermo: My boss is a harsh animation critic and after I showed it to him, he said it was fresh. He was impressed with how meticulous Thami was and how many different images he was able to loop into the full video.
You recently announced that you have finished recording your next album and it will be coming out this year. Now you’ve said, “you’ve got cool shit coming out that you can’t say shit about.” BUT what CAN you tell us about the record?
Camilo: It is our first attempt to make a true record. Before I feel like our previous records were random mixes full of demos. This album, we took more time to sit down and craft a complete and more professional record of ten songs that we like and are proud of.
Pierce: Every song on the album is completely different than the song before or after it. Even with “Foam” coming out today, you won’t hear another song on the record exactly like it. It is very up and down and takes you on a full musical journey from start to finish.
Javier: When creating the record we thought of the tracklist more as a playlist. Even when we gave our sound guy the songs he said all these songs sound different and it was a little hard to build the record with such a diverse mix. I think it is because there is a large mixture of influences within the band and it makes people question what we are listening to on a daily basis.
Your last album, “The Shady Sexyfornia Tapes,” came out in 2016. Did you think it would take three years to release your next album?
Camilo: No, we thought it would take one year. I would consider “The Shady Sexyfornia Tapes” our sketchbook and this new record is completed pieces.
Pierce: These past three years we have been learning how to record. Within the time we probably recorded three full records but threw them out because we weren’t satisfied with them. The technicalities of recording are what we focused on most. We taught ourselves everything from basically scratch.
Javier: The dilemma of any artist is seeing the blank piece of paper and not knowing where to begin. Then sometimes once you do begin you’re unhappy and have to start over. Now that we feel like we have a better grasp of recording we are going to try to release music more often. We already have a few songs cooking so we are on our way.
Not all bands are as hands-on with the recording process as Divino Niño is. What do you see as the benefits of it?
Pierce: It is a benefit and a curse because you never know when it is truly done and can rethink it over and over. Going into a studio and working with a producer can be tough because you either have to adapt to what they know and are used to or you have to change their mind on what you think it should sound like throughout the process. It can be hard to communicate your vision to someone else, especially if they aren’t familiar with your sound.
Camilo: One thing is to come up with a song, another is to figure out how to record it. Playing a song live vs how it comes out of a speaker can be a long journey of trial and error. We were good at playing live before we were ever good at recording because at a show it is very minimalistic and instinct based. As a band, we had to adjust and make changes in order to translate what makes people vibe with us live. Learning to record is like learning a new language, but having all of us share in the same vision has helped us create the music we want.
Javier: You have control, but there are also limitations. Some sounds rely on a treated room with the proper studio set-up, while other things we do are experimental that a professional record engineer may never try. For our future releases, we want to try to do a mix because we see the benefits to both settings.
The band is known for your sound’s direct influence from ‘60s music. How do songs of the ‘60s continue to shape your songs, especially on this new album?
Javier: We got out of trying to make ‘60s music verbatim. Those records are still some of my favorites to this day and many of my favorite composers and songwriters are from the ‘60s. We still draw from that era, but we are no longer trying to replicate that sound. Nowadays, I pay better attention to what modern music is around me and what is progressing, while still trying to capture the timelessness of many ‘60s artists.
Camilo: It was a gradual transition out, but when I first discovered that music it was a psychological trip. Everyone here seemed to grow up around that music, but I didn’t discover it until about my early 20’s. It wasn’t a rebellious act, but it was a new perspective and it made us realize what we had been missing out on for so long.
Javier: Camilo and I had a reserved childhood. We grew up religious and were sheltered from a young age. When we moved here and turned about 21 we started to get exposed to the music of the ‘60s and it was completely different from the Christian music we grew up around. The culture behind the music fascinated us too and opened our eyes.
You also announced your April tour with Duran Jones and The Indications. What are you most excited about for this tour?
Camilo: We have never gone on tour with our record before and have done our previous tours in the most backward ways. Imagine you’re seeing a band on tour and then afterward you buy their record at the merch table and none of the songs they played are on that record. We are selling a very confusing product.
Javier: Our user experience is fixed now for this tour and we will be playing songs that they have heard before.
How does the band use tour as a way to improve and grow musically?
Guillermo: I think it happens organically. There were times where we would play live once a month and if you had a bad set you would feel like shit for a month. Going on tour and playing night after night, your only choice is to get better and make improvements on each show. You are able to redeem yourself and become comfortable and more familiar with the setlist and what your role is. The momentum picks up and our growth becomes obvious. Plus having an audience to feed off of and give your all to helps us engage and make it an honest performance.
Camilo: One thing I’ve learned from seeing shows live is that the crowd is as much a part of the exercise as the band is. It is a ping pong effect, where the band gives their energy and the audience feeds off of it and gives their energy back to the band. The bounce back is just as important for the band as it is the audience. I used to see it as the band going up on stage and playing their music in order to show the band how much we have practiced. Having it click that the audience is a part of that experience helps me connect and see everyone in the room as one organism. If the band feels free the people will feel free. The audience can pick up on a band’s insecurities pretty quickly and that instantly ruins the whole vibe of the show.
Now, like we mentioned before, you all love the sounds of the ‘60s, but what do you love most about the sounds of the music being created today?
Pierce: There is a general consensus in bands that everything has been done. From that, there is an obstacle put in front of you and you have to accept that you cannot create anything new. It is in a sense liberating that you have a million sources to draw from that then can create something new based off of the old. You don’t have to be in debt to one sound and can pick and choose from song to song.
Guillermo: There is so much out there now that it can feel daunting like you’re out floating without a paddle. The benefit to that is the current is so strong and you can dive in feet first with no worries because you will find something out there you enjoy and relates to you.
Javier: When it comes to these types of questions I tend to get a little more philosophical. I would say the best part of today’s music is how expressive and open it can be. The rules can be broken the whole time you create your art and that is acceptable. The freedom of expression isn’t limited to music. I see art as making a collage and cutting out pieces from genres you like and creating a song out of mashing those pieces. Approaching music from that point of view connects to me most.
Camilo: I agree. The approach intrigues me. Every person is an infinite universe of thoughts and ideas. Everyone is so unique that there is always a musician doing something interesting. Even if the music itself isn’t new, the approach and experience behind it is.
Written by: Colleen Kennedy
Header Photo by: Alexa Viscius