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About Rombai

Rombai is a charting cumbia cheta (pop cumbia) band founded in Uruguay that includes musicians and vocalists from several South American countries. Their sound melds folkloric Colombian cumbia, classy, clubby Latin pop hooks, and electronic dance music. Their initial lyric video single, "Locuras Contigo," was posted to YouTube and other social media channels, racking up millions of views in a few short months. The track caught on, and soon after being picked up by Montevideo Music Group, became so popular it traversed the Uruguayan radio landscape and spread to Argentina (where Rombai became one of the top three audio streaming artists), Colombia, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Chile, and achieved similar success. Despite several wholesale personnel changes the group, led by founding vocalist, songwriter, and producer Fernando "Fer" Vázquez, they issued another handful of singles and a compilation album, and traversed the Latin American cultural landscape through touring, television appearances, and in simulcast internet concerts, all the while releasing more videos and becoming a pop sensation whose every move is reported in mass media. Rombai's initial aims weren't nearly so ambitious. The band was formed by communications students at the Universidad ORT Uruguay in December of 2014, as a pleasurable respite from classwork. Founded by Vazquez and singer Camila Rajchman, the group also included guitarist Felipe Sánchez, bassist Nicolás Velloso, Brian García and Tomás Narbond on drums and percussion, keyboardist Ramiro Caruso, and Nathalie Rubinstein on güiro. Two weeks after forming, they issued their debut single and lyric video "Locuras Contigo" via You Tube. Spread on social networks, it was an instant hit that garnered airplay at local and then regional radio as its popularity crossed the Uruguayan border. They followed in February of 2015 with "Yo También," which greased the wheels for further pop ascent. Two weeks later, it charted a hundred thousand views, and Rombai signed a contract with the telephone company Claro to promote their music. The single "Curiosidad" followed in late March. While radio could hardly keep up, the streaming charts did; each single brought them more popularity and demand for new material. In May, they teamed with now-dissolved cousin cumbia cheta sensations Márama (whom Vazquez produced) for the single "Noche Loca." The track exploded on streaming charts in five countries, but did not compare to the success of fifth single "Adiós," whose video racked up 43 million views. Rombai arranged enough material for a live set and took to touring across the region. By October, they'd released "Segundo Intenciones," whose popularity won them an opportunity to perform live on the TV program Showmatch, Argentina's most watched entertainment show. Just before appearing at the end of December -- performing with Márama -- they dropped seventh single "Yo Te Propongo." All of the attention did create difficulties, however. Touring became incessant; the grind of the road and sometimes multiple performances in a single day took their toll. First, Narbondo was fired for "making a mistake" and was initially replaced by Agustín Correa. Then Rajchman, overwhelmed by professional pressures, decided to leave (amicably) in March 2016, followed by Rubenstein in June, who decided to resume her studies. That spring, Rombai issued its debut album, De Fiesta. Its deluxe edition also contained all seven singles and a host of unreleased material, including three duets with Márama. Vazquez soldiered on alone at the microphone throughout a very successful tour of Argentina with Márama that spring and summer. At their joint appearance at Luna Park in May, Rombai premiered two new tracks "Reencuentro" and "Abrázame." In addition to the tour, the two bands were the subjects of a documentary entitled Márama-Rombai-El Viaje that was released in July. After singing alone for eight months, vocalist Emilia Mernes joined Vazquez as second vocalist in November. Correa left after their tour was completed that fall, as did several others. Undaunted, Vazquez carried on with guitarist, guiro player, and musical director Nicolás González and drummer Juan Martino. Three weeks later they issued "Cuando Se Pone a Baila." The electro cumbia track broke through across Latin America and into the United States and Europe. It charted in the Top 20 in seven countries and its video racked up 146 million views. In February of the following year, Rombai performed again with Márama at the Amphitheater of Quinta Vergara. It was their first participation in the Viña del Mar International Song Festival in Chile. For their effort in the competition they won both the Silver and Golden Seagull. The group continued to tour throughout the year, and issued another pair of charting singles in "Una y Otra Vez" in April and their first reggaeton number, "Besarte," in July. In January of 2018, Mernes left the group, and in April, Vazquez sent notices on social media that he had hired not one, but two other female vocalists: Colombian Valeria Emiliani (La Valeriana) and Bolivian Megumi Bowles. González continued as musical director and Juan Martino took over the drum chair. The lineup issued its first offering, "Me Voy," which hit the number five spot in Colombia and inside the Top Ten in five other countries including Uruguay and Argentina. ~ Thom Jurek

Montevideo, Uruguay
December 1, 2014
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