SXSW 2017: Sounds from Colombia and Spain

SXSW 2017

South by Southwest Music Festival (SXSW 2017) is an internationally recognized annual festival in Austin, Texas taking place from March 13th to March 19th 2017. The festival includes conferences with multiple panels, exhibitions, and it has served as an exposure platform for the sounds of thousands of musicians of all genres around the world. Check out the following recommendations.

Colombia’s SXSW 2017 Hip-Hop Showcase

By Pablo Medina Uribe

Although it doesn’t receive much airplay or mainstream attention in its own country, Colombian rap is becoming a force to reckon with. This year, two of its representatives will make their way to SXSW 2017, the monumental music, arts and technology conference held each year in Austin, Texas.

One of these acts is Alcolirykoz who, as we mentioned before, are one of the front-runners of the immensely creative and notoriously DIY Medellín hip-hop movement, will be at the Speakeasy Kabaret on March 17.

The Medellín trio’s career has spanned 11 years and countless festival appearances. They rap with humorous and relentless lyrics, both in content and flow, over complex beats constructed with samples mostly from jazz, blues and funk albums. But if something sets them apart is their willingness to experiment in their productions.

Last December they released a single, “Changó,” which includes Santería – an Afro-Caribbean religion – elements in its beats, and nadaísmo – a Colombian literary movement from the 1950s and 1960s based in Medellín – in its lyrics.

Last year they also released “Equipo de carretera,” a fast-paced song that fully shows the strength of which these paisas are capable, as well as the respect they show for their sources (look out for the Nas shoutout).

The other Colombian hip-hop artist at the SXSW 2017 will be ALI A.K.A. MIND, the stage name of Bogotano rapper Ali Rey Montoya, who has been producing rap music since 2006. His lyrics are evidently socially committed, while his samples come mostly from Latin American ballads and Andean music.

He has created an image closely associated with his city, the Colombian capital, which often features heavily on his videos, as is the case with his singles “Mi ciudad es fresca”.

And “Mi raíz”

Last year, he released his fifth album, Sobreviviente (from where “Mi ciudad es fresca” comes from), which includes more introspective themes, interspersed with his more common themes of belonging to the city, skating, social issues and political commitment.  

Music from the Colombian Caribbean Coast

By Tomás Uribe

During the rubber industry boom known as Rubber Fever, around the end of the 19th century, black migration to the Ecuadorian coasts was imminent. Entire communities strolled along the Colombian-Ecuadorian border, skimming the Pacific Ocean’s shores, bringing with them traditions, customs, and even more importantly, music. Similarly, the music of the Colombian Caribbean was also the result of various ethnic and cultural migrations. Rhythms like cumbia and champeta are part of that Latin diversity that is taking over the world. This music is taken from the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas.

The music of the Pacific that we know today is the result of many years of artistic, cultural, and social evolution, with inevitable roots in slavery and European colonialism. The “marimba de chonta,” the main instrument in Pacific music, was adapted according to the materials available in the region.

The bordones, rhythmic-melodic cells that serve as the basis of the songs resemble the sound of water running through the trunks. Mixed with electronic beats or hip hop, has made the music of the Pacific one of the most striking and remembered cultural exports of the last decade.

The Atlantic music scene also has many aspects. In this music, African rhythms like soukous or juju, from the Antilles like reggae and others, including bullerengue and mapalé, are merged. In the Pacific, the sounds of salsa and timba, reggaeton, and more traditional music such as currulao and cumbia influence music today. Bomba Esteréo and the Latin Grammy winners in 2010 and 2015, Chocquibtown, have been the precursors of these catchy rhythms, but carefully following them, are groups Aluvión and Tribu Baharu, who will be in SXSW 2017 in a few days.


With its origins tied to the Colombian Pacific (more specifically in Timbiquí), this band had its roots in 2010. One of its founders, precisely from Chocquibtown, was contacted by Diego Bonilla, director of Aluvión. Larry, in charge of percussion and marimba, contributes with melodies and rhythms, also influenced by the urban sounds of the Bogota capital.

Baharu Tribe

Since 2009, Tribu Baharu merges the champeta with Afro-descendant rhythms and urban sounds, since it is also based in Bogotá but contains that flavor and atmosphere of Barranquilla and Cartagena. Syncopated melodies based on reggae, soca, and calypso carry this orchestra around the world, including Womex.

Sounds from Spain at SXSW

By Rocio Santos

Déjate llevar hasta España with Sounds From Spain (SFS) showcase as they celebrate its 10th anniversary at SXSW 2017 supporting the global expansion of Spanish artists from all genres. SPS tiró la casa por la ventana bringing España’s most favored acts from the indie alternative scenes.

One of the gems worth checking out is Triángulo de Amor Bizarro, a cuarteto from Galicia who won Premio Ruido at the beginning of the year granted by the Asociación de Periodistas Musicales de España for best Spanish album of 2016 after releasing their fourth LP Salve Discordia (Mushroom Pillow). It’s definitely one of the most powerful bands to see on stage. They make headbanging an act of elegance. After more than a decade together and success in their home country, they are still planting seeds in North and Latin America. In 2015, they had a very successful stop in Chicago’s Ruido Fest and California’s Viva! Pomona Fest. Triángulo has created a limitless sound personality by blending many rock subgenres such as post-punk, shoegaze, noise, dream pop, psychedelia and more sounds. You’ll be blown away by Rodrigo’s lead vocals and riff-driven attitude while encapsulating the listener into worlds of paganismo, social critique, and romanticismo with a touch of black humor.. You’ll be surprised to Isa’s contrasting voice singing so subtle as if you were in a dream in Cocteau Twin’s Victorialand.  And you don’t have to understand español to get into the bizarre zone. Isa’s stage presence as bassist is ferocious, and Rafa Mallo will accelerate your adrenaline from head to toe while Zippo digs into your subconscious through the sound making of his synthesizer and guitar. Y sí, their name makes homage to New Order’s 1986 hit ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’. You can guess what their influences are and how these have shaped their multi-genre sound and songwriting.  

Check out “Nuestro Siglo Fnord” based on the video game El Conde Lucanor:

Another gallego act that will make you rock is Novedades Carminha. These campeones have been around for a decade with the same line-up made up by Carlangas (vocalist/guitarist), Jarri (bass) and Xavi (drums). Last year, they released their fourth album Campeones del Mundo (Ernie Records, 2016) where they step out of their comfort zone of garage punk and go on to explore the sounds of Latin and African music to bring out a more caliente sound vibe with a fresh blend of rock’n’roll, surf, rockabilly and more. They also went on to explore the roots of chicha and covered “Cariñito” by los Hijos del Sol, one of the most recognized cumbias from Perú, without taking a cumbia approach and instead doing a more tropical rock take. They love to have fun, tomarse la vida como un juego and make their audiences go crazy by taking them to the dance floor while Carlangas sings in comical Spanish about their social context, follar and other random stories. Their directos make people go insane. Recently, they had to stop performing at a Madrid venue since the fuse in the room blew up because of the intensity of their crowd.

“De vuelta de todo” is a visual road trip.

SFS will also feature Joana Serrat, one of the best young folk voices hailing from Vich, a city in northern Spain. She is a favorite in her country and around Europe where she has toured extensively with her latest album Cross the verge (Loose Music, 2016). This album was meticulously crafted in Canada with engineer and producer Howard Bilerman, former drummer of Arcade Fire. Although Joana has never been in the U.S., she grew up listening to Americana at home, while also taking inspiration from Roy Orbison and Neil Young. Her singing and songwriting in English has always been natural and that has been an advantage for her career. She has paved her way for the past five years by releasing three albums exploring folk, pop and country through the themes of love, introspection, nature and other facets that makes us human while throwing some catalán in her 2012 self-released debut The Relief Sessions. Her ethereal voice and language explores the dark side of the heart so beautifully that it will make you ver una luz al final del tunel. Joana’s songs are cathartic and emanate so much sensibility inviting the listener to travel through sounds of melancholy and hope. Her show at SXSW 2017 will be intimate and there’s no doubt her voice will open your corazón.

Sounds From Spain

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