How Rockers Divino Niño Found Their Voice In Chicago | WBEZ
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Morning Shift

Inspired By Latin American Roots, Indie Rockers Divino Niño Found Their Voice And Vision In Chicago

In the dead of a Chicago winter, Camilo Medina of Divino Niño set out to write lyrics for Foam, the title track off the indie-rock band’s forthcoming album. A slight comfort, he imagined the warm Florida beaches and sunny Colombian skies of his youth.

“I just wanted to picture blue water and pink flowers and this beautiful scene just to help me cope with the situation we were in,” Medina said.

The result is a dreamy trip to the bottom of the ocean, filled with silky harmonies and wistful lyrics like “turning foam into emotion” and “I really want to run away with you.” Foam is the first of four singles off Divino Niño’s new 10-track album — the band’s first full-length record in three years.

Their sound brings to mind both sun-drenched beaches and frigid urban alleyways. That musical mix makes perfect sense when you understand the band’s journey from Bogota, Colombia to Miami to Chicago. Divino Niño has incorporated the sounds of each of those places, effortlessly moving from Spanish to English to create something fresh and unique along the way.

From South America to the American Midwest

Divino Niño bassist and vocalist Javier Forero first met Medina when they were toddlers in their native Bogota, but the pair lost touch around the third grade. Years later, after moving some 1,500 miles to the United States, they reconnected by chance on a school bus in Miami.

“I have video footage of Javier at my 5-year-old birthday party … we were little kids and then I just didn’t see him anymore until seventh grade in Miami,” Medina said. “And I was like a very punk kid and Javier was [into hip-hop]. So we were pretty different.”

Forero said they became close friends through religion, not music, by surviving what they described as a “Christian cult” in their teen years. They were prohibited from listening to non-Christian music, but managed to hone their music skills while living in Florida.

“You have one friend that goes to the church and tells you, ‘Hey man, this kind of blows. Want to start a band with me and get out of here and do something else?’ So that’s kind of what happened to us,” Forero said.

They left the church in 2008 and went on to discover classic artists like the Beatles, the Beach Boys and the Kinks, which continue to inspire their music to this day.

Creating music in Chicago

The pair moved to Chicago in 2010 and formed Divino Niño in 2013 with Medina on guitar and vocals, Forero on bass and vocals and Guillermo Rodriguez on guitar and vocals. Pierce Codina later joined the band on drums.

“It feels like everybody has a very special thing that the other one doesn’t have,” Medina said. “It is really truly balanced out pretty well. We have a good chemistry. They’re my best friends, the four of us.”

Their last album, The Shady Sexyfornia Tapes, was released in 2016 to critical success with tracks like “Londres F.M.” and “Time.” But that project, Forero said, was more like a collection of demo tapes they stitched together.

Since then, the band learned how to produce a project from start to finish with a little help from their friends. Their new album features fellow Chicago musicians Luke Henry on slide guitar and Justin Vittori of the band Grapetooth on keys and auxiliary percussion.

“The Foam record was actually more like, let’s write songs, let’s actually produce an album. And so that experience gave us a lot more knowledge,” Forero said. “From production to songwriting to also finding our voice and our vision.”

Divino Niño will perform June 21 for the Foam album release party at the Empty Bottle. Tickets are on sale now.

Nereida Moreno is a producer with The Morning Shift. Follow her on Twitter at @nereidamorenos.

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