March 05, 2014 via Pepsi
Artists You Should Know: Santiago, Chile
If you’ve kept tabs on the Latin indie music scene, then it should come as no surprise that we’re gushing over Santiago. The Chilean capital has seen a major resurgence of locally and internationally-recognized artists in the past half decade as artists create music that is internationally accessible while still characterized by its roots. To say that Chile is the California of Latin America would be a generalization. At the same time the way Santiago is gracefully wedged between the Andes with the endless Pacific always at arm’s reach reminds us of the carefree, breezy vibe we associate with California dreamin’. A European influence can be felt in the music too, with synths and drum machine sounds alongside Brit-Pop’s trebly guitars and melancholic songwriting. And if that weren’t a powerful enough brew of influences, the area has been home to world-famous poets like Pablo Neruda who still have a strong influence on the area’s creative output. So without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the most exciting artists repping this sophisticated Pacific metropolis.
Simply known by her stage name, Nicole, Denisse Lillian Laval Soza was already an undisputed pop star in Chile by her teens. Since then, she’s dabbled in various pop subgenres, from quirky ‘90s ballads to more recent ecstatic dance tracks. Nicole has a worldly cosmopolitan air about her music, no doubt influenced by her time living in Mexico and Miami before returning to her native Santiago. Her most recent album Panal is a pristinely on-trend project that combines electro-pop, modern ballads, and plenty of dance hits to get people moving on the floor.
Ricardo Villalobos is one of the world’s top DJs. Period. He was ranked #1 on Resident Advisor’s best DJ list in both 2008 and 2010. While he was born in Santiago and still calls it home, his family moved to Germany to escape the Pinochet dictatorship, where Villalobos quickly developed a love for dance music. He put in his time in clubs throughout the techno motherland and learned to use his unique background to blend cold techno aesthetics with Latin rhythmic and melodic flair. Check out his house-y “Easy Lee (Reboot Edit)” featured above. Now back in Santiago, Villalobos has comfortably become the globe-trotting godfather of the local DJ scene.
Javiera Mena is a Chilean electro-pop songstress who first garnered attention in 2006 with her definitive debut album, Esquemas Juveniles. Four years later, she released an equally praised sophomore album, Mena. In anticipation of her third LP, Mena released the unrelentingly ravey dance tune “Espada,” showing the artist moving in a decidedly club-friendly direction. Until her next album, there’s plenty of awesome and varied music from Mena to sink your teeth into.
Ases Falsos, or False Aces, reinvented themselves from the ashes of their previous project (with a funny name we won't mention) turning towards a more Brit-Pop sound. The quintet released their widely acclaimed album, Juventud Americana (American Youth) in 2012 shortly after their name change. A friend described them as a more versatile Chilean version of The Strokes and that’s an admittedly apt description. With their clean-cut accessible sound, it’s no surprise Ases Falsos have made a name for themselves in the Santiago scene and beyond.
Alex & Daniel
Alex & Daniel, is a Santiago indie pop supergroup consisting of Alex Anwandter and Gepe, both independently popular indie musicians in the local scene. Their upbeat infectious music might be compared to Balearic pop band Delorean. Although their talent as songwriters exceeds anything we've heard recently. The production has a distinctive post punk feel, akin to artists like Hercules and Love Affair. There’s summery piano and guitar, sincere, unfussy vocals, and equal dashes of disco drums and found sounds. The album’s optimistically reckless feel makes it easy to imagine taking a spontaneous trip to the Chilean beach, and will no doubt soundtrack a few of those trips during the Chilean summer.
Gleeful indie dance-pop duo Diego Adrián and Nacho Aedo have been making infectious upbeat electronic tracks since 2007. The band seems as voraciously interested in all forms of dance music, especially disco and '90s diva house, as they are in hip-hop and cumbia. Their hyperactive appetite for blending music is reflective in their groovy DIY aesthetic reminiscent of funky indie polymath, Beck. Check out their 2011 release, Éxito Mundial (English: Global Hits) for a good primer.
In 2011, seemingly out of nowhere, Chilean electro-pop quartet Astro burst onto the international pop scene with the utterly infectious “Ciervos.” The video for the track featured the band in an ecstatic romp through the wilderness, clad in face paint and loin clothes and accompanied by various South American wildlife. Drawing influence from artists like MGMT and David Bowie, the band released their debut album in 2011, to high praise from NPR music, Club Fonograma and others. Here’s hoping we’ll see more from these fun-loving dudes in 2014.
Mañaneros make music that could soundtrack any number of action sports. Their omnivorous tunes pay serious homage to regional Andean folk music through the lens of scrappy DJ cut-and-paste electronic music. If Ratatat were Chilean, they would sound like Mañaneros. With their synth-trampled Tropical Bass, replete with unrelenting percussion, sampled wildcat howls, and raucous riffs, it’s a cafecito in audio form.
Maria Magdalena is a relative newcomer to the Santiago scene. Her music sits halfway between Donna Summer’s disco and Peaches at her most listenable. In other words, she’d be a perfect opening act for Neon Indian or even Grimes were they to tour South America. Magdalena’s previous work had her writing in a more traditional singer-songwriter and guitar format, so it’s especially exciting to see her take this new turn towards glimmering disco-pop.
El Sueño De La Casa Propia
As a generation who grew up worshipping beat-making gods like Dilla and Timbaland reaches creative adulthood around the globe, El Sueño De La Casa Propia is a sign of things to come. The producer and remixer, born Jose Manuela Cerda in Buenos Aires, got his start in Neruda’s sleepy seaside hometown of Valparaiso just north of Santiago, selling pirated CDs on the street when he came across a disc containing music production software. From that fortuitous moment, Cerda began his electronic music project, which translates to “The Dream of Your Own House.” He’s toured with the likes of Caribou and Dntel and shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. If you’re into eclectic sample-based production, El Sueño De La Casa Propia is a great listen.