How the Colombian Band Morat Is Winning Over a Global Audience
The hallmarks of what Villamil called the band’s “very specific sonic signature” include achingly nostalgic lyrics about unrequited love reminiscent of the classic boleros; choruses sung in unison; and the use of instruments (like the banjo, electric piano or steel guitar) seldom heard in Latin pop. They have released power ballads, funky R&B tunes and country-inspired rock songs. “We can go as far as the instruments let us,” said Martín Vargas, the band’s drummer.
Musically, the band is a bit of an outlier in a landscape where reggaeton often gets the most mainstream attention. Morat’s influences include Coldplay and the Latin pop band Bacilos, Mac Miller and the Spanish poet and singer Joaquín Sabina, Dave Matthews Band and the Colombian rock band Ekhymosis and, of course, the Beatles. Villamil and Isaza are also country fans (they write and record often in Nashville), and the Vargas brothers were metal heads before they got into folk-rock.
“In 2021, there is no single sound that defines pop in Latin America,” Kevin Meenan, YouTube’s music trends manager, wrote in an email. “In a way, Morat is a microcosm of this trend, incorporating a diverse range of sounds and genres into their music — and in their case typically from outside the perhaps more familiar worlds of reggaeton and Latin trap.”
Leila Cobo, vice president and Latin industry lead at Billboard, said, “There are a lot of assumptions about what Latin music is right now, but it is such a broad territory.” She added, “Morat highlights that Latin music is not necessarily what you see on the charts at any given time. They write great pop songs with great lyrics. They stay true to themselves, steadily building their fan base.”
MORAT GOT ITS start playing music together in grade school; its members have known each other since they were five years old. As they neared the end of high school, Isaza, Villamil, Simón Vargas and Alejandro Posada, the group’s original drummer, formed a proper band. After the release of their first album in 2016, Posada left to focus on his studies, and the younger Vargas brother came aboard.