When thinking about the tropics, joyful images of sunshine and vibrant, natural beauty are usually the first things to come to mind, but as Houston’s Gio Chamba and his collaborators Paco Peor and Decima from Chicago explore in their new track “Reflexion”, the tropics also get dark.
“It’s a crazy juxtaposition,” says Chamba of their new track. “Usually you don't think about being dark or sad in the tropics but whenever the sun goes down, it’s really dark in the jungle.”
Gio Chamba and his bandmate Coffee Leaf have been burning up the Houston music scene for the past six years but with Chamba’s recent relocation to Colorado and the past year of limited opportunities for live music, the duo has been hard to catch live.
Chamba will return for a hometown show on Saturday, July 17 at Wonky Power for an outdoor show which will also be live-streamed. Chamba will also be performing a DJ set after their performance to keep the party going.
Food will be provided on site by Umbrella Fellas, a Houston staple that Chamba admits he’s been jonesing for since moving to the Centennial State.
“Wonky Power, that's basically our second home in Houston because we used to have a practice studio there and we used to record with Mario. It’s pretty cool because it almost feels like a warehouse party setting. They have a great sound and that's why we love it there too cause they know our sound and their sound system there is really cool.”
Wonky Power has definitely been holding down the fort for local music since the beginning of the pandemic with their live performances and high quality live streamed events.
Seeing Gio Chamba live is like an atomic bomb of positive energy. Chamba and Leaf are explosive in their instrumentation and each play as if it was their last day on earth with every performance, whether live or recorded in the studio.
During the pandemic, they have been releasing a steady stream of singles dropping one new track a month and collaborating with like minded artists from Texas, Chicago and Los Angeles.
Chamba describes these songs as “one offs” who wouldn’t necessarily fit into a more cohesive project and has enjoyed releasing a steady stream of diverse singles all featuring their signature trippy, cumbia sounds.
The duo is planning to slow down their pace of monthly releases and focus instead on creating two EP’s in the near future. Both band members were also recently welcomed into the Recording Academy’s Class of 2021, along with another handful of Houston artists, making them eligible to vote for their peers for future Grammy Awards.
Their distinctive sound is always present in their songs, no matter who they collaborate with but more than a sound, it is their cumbia driven infectious rhythms and positive vibes that make them an undeniable force.
“Reflexion” is no different, though the song shows off their darker side and sees the fast paced duo slowing down for the track, Chamba and Leaf’s unmistakable energy resonates throughout. Chamba describes how the song reminds him of “Melancholia Tropical” or "Tropical Melancholy" in English, a personal fire ritual where you look into the fire to see your spiritual reflection.
Decima’s chant-like vocals on “Reflexion '' definitely takes listeners on a trip and carries tribal elements in her voice and lyrics balanced perfectly with Chamba’s sustained fuzzy guitar riffs and Leaf’s mesmerizing beats.
Though the song was created with each contributor in a different physical location, Chamba describes the process as organic and natural, with each person stepping outside of their norms for their part of the song, with each person listed as a writer at Paco Peor’s insistence.
“Paco is just that kind of guy,” says Chamba. “It’s all of us,” he says of the sound they created. “We were all like woah, we couldn't have made this by ourselves. Everyone felt something from the song. It doesn't have a traditional pop structure either so it kinda just flows. It’s like a ritual around a fire or something.”
Gio Chamba will perform Saturday July 17 at Wonky Power, 3534 Navigation, 9 p.m., $10.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.