Fans say Chicago band Divino Niño defies labels and embodies the heart of the indie music scene


Bilingual Chicago band Divino Niño’s albums are full of lighthearted, groovy love songs that will make you feel like you’re in a digital camera montage of summer shenanigans—even amid the second half of the quarter and the onset of chillier Chicago weather. Which is pretty impressive. In Quiero, the second track on the album Foam, the drama of Camilo Medina’s rolled r’s and captivating intonation in the Spanish verses is complemented by the chorus, sung in English and accompanied by backup vocals:

“I don’t ever wanna change your mind

I wanna be with you the way that you are”

All of the sounds: smooth and funky electric guitar, acoustic strumming, punchy rhythms and shimmery, soaring synth, combine to make something that is not quite traditional Latin American rock, not quite your normal indie pop, but something new and unexplored.

The beginnings of Divino Niño can be traced back all the way to the childhoods of Javier Forero and Camilo Medina, who sing and play bass and guitar for the band. They spent their early years together in Bogotá, Colombia, and then reconnected in Miami by chance after both of them moved. Sharing a passion for music, they played together for their mega-church in Florida, but the limiting culture of the church held them back. Eventually they decided to expand their musical horizons, left the church, and set out for Chicago together to go to college and explore a new music scene, according to WBEZ.

Even though they left their old home behind, their roots still come through in their mix of Spanish and English lyrics and their smooth, summery sound.

“I would love to give people a little vacation,” Medina said to WBEZ.

The band just came out with a new single, Drive, in 2021, and are currently on tour with Crumb through November.

Adrian Lara, 26, is a handyman and guitar repairist working in Chicago. He plays music, and got to know the band through going to shows, helping them load out their equipment, and running into them, since he lives in Hermosa and they live in Humboldt Park.

He said that part of what makes Divino Niño unique is the long history between the band members, because playing music with someone that you know well is a different experience.

“There’s more of a shorthand, you don’t really need to tell them, hey at this part do this thing, you just kind of give them a look, and they know what you’re talking about” Lara said.

He is a second generation Mexican immigrant—his mom is from Totoltepec Puebla and his dad is from Olinala Guerrero. The band helps him to feel connected to his heritage.

“I deeply appreciate that they sing in Spanish. It’s really cool to see that people are trying to stick to their roots and make music that is pretty different from a lot of stuff even here in Chicago,” he said.

Lara describes himself as someone who is really into music, and he knows a lot of other similar people in Chicago just through going to shows. He said that the band is very involved with the general community of indie music.

“The indie scene here is awesome so everyone just kind of knows each other. They’re definitely involved a lot. They help out so many people, which is awesome. And very needed,” he said.

Foam, the band’s most recent album, came out in 2019. Lara said that as they have come out with more music, they have grown into their own unique sound.

“In their first album, Pool Jealousy, the Latin American roots are very, very present. That album is a bit more akin to what most people would just call indie rock with Latin American influences,” he said.

In the next albums, he could see more direction.

“Come Foam, it’s so apparent—this is them, this is their music, and it’s super original and amazing,” he said. “There are so many different interesting layers of just instrument beds that are in their music that mesh perfectly.”

Gayun Cannon is a sophomore at DePaul majoring in music business. She took a stab at what genres she thinks capture Divino Niño’s music.

“It has to be some kind of Latino pop, but also some type of dream pop and psychedelic pop vibe to it. Just because there’s so much reverb in their music, and it’s just so airy,” she said.

Cannon has been playing music since she was four, and in the past year started writing and putting out her own songs. She saw Divino Niño play for the first time when they opened for Crumb at Thalia Hall in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago, and fell in love with their music and style. Since then, she got a job at Thalia Hall, and on Oct. 8, she got to see them there again at a show with all Chicago artists.

“The lead singer – his dancing is what caught me first. He exuded so much confidence on stage, like he gives me Freddie Mercury energy,” she said. “But then his voice was just beautiful and caught me off guard, it was just so unique. Some of the things he was saying were in Spanish so I didn’t really understand, but it was just the way he was singing it.”

Bianca Brown, on the other hand, connected to the Spanish lyrics of their songs because of her Mexican roots. She is a sophomore education major at DePaul, and she speaks Spanish at home because her mother immigrated from Mexico. She also listens to many Latin American bands like Bad Bunny and Juanes. After listening to Divino Niño for the first time, she agreed with Cannon and Lara about the band’s energy, and said that their music felt a bit different than what she’s used to—more youthful.

“I like them, because it seems like they’re made more for people who are our age, a little bit more than some of the other music I listen to,” she said.

Beverly Bryan, in a Pitchfork review of Foam, said something similar.

“‘Ooh la la’ backing vocals notwithstanding, Foam is a progressive-minded record. If its references are nostalgic, its spirit isn’t … Foam demonstrates that it’s possible to draw from everywhere, without sounding quite like anything else,” she said.

The band provides something new and inspires a new generation of musicians, like Cannon, who has been influenced by their creativity and smooth execution.

“I want people to feel everything when they listen to my music – because I feel everything when I listen to their music,” she said.