Sounds from Across the Andean Cordillera

I’ve spent my last month or so surveying music scenes in Chile and abroad, meeting musicians, DJs, and producers working in various styles of electronic music including techno, house, hip-hop, and experimental forms.  I’ve been using my website Discobres as a platform for sharing these artists’ work, as well as their perspectives on the culture of electronic music in countries like Chile, Argentina, and Peru.

In July, I was invited to speak at the Instituto Chileno-Norteamericano in Valparaíso alongside fellow Fulbrighter Daniel Ruiz, whose project entails translating the work of young Chilean poets from Spanish to English. We presented a talk and conversation titled “Hyperconscious: Overthinking the Essential in Music and Poetry,” in which we posed questions relating to self-consciousness, authenticity, and sentimentality in our respective art forms.

Presenting at the Instituto Chileno Norteamericano in Valparaíso, Chile.

On Discobres, I’ve begun to include artists from other Latin American countries with electronic music communities comparable to Chile’s. The Chica, an Argentinian artist and DJ, weighed in on Mendoza’s small but intimate music community just across the border, and contributed an hour-long mix of cosmic lo-fi techno and house for the Discobres Mix series.

Peruvian experimental musician, sound artist, and philosopher CAO shared some of the urban mythologies and ancient Peruvian mysticisms that define the unique techno abstractions, post-industrial poems, and vaporous drone hymns on her recent album Marginal Virgin.

Peruvian experimental musician and philosopher CAO.

In trying to shape a perspective on how Chile’s electronic music culture has changed over the last two decades, I spoke with Mika Martini (aka Hugo Espinosa Chellew) and Alisú (aka Jessica Campos), both of whom own record labels and have worked as recording and performing artists since the late 1990s. Mika detailed some of the cultural waves that define Santiago’s electronic music scene today versus in the past, and gave me a tour of the vintage synthesizers he’s been collecting over the last several years. Alisú spoke about striking a balance between her careers in music and in design, and the joys and challenges of managing Modismo, one of Chile’s foremost netlabels.

Pueblo Nuevo Netlabel owner and musician Mika Martini at his home studio. Santiago, Chile.

I unexpectedly stumbled into Santiago’s contemporary hip-hop scene after reaching out to rapper and producer LIZZ (aka Elisa Espinoza), whose subversive and futuristic identity challenges many of Chile’s cultural norms.  Though Chilean hip-hop is often characterized by its nostalgic fusion of funk, reggae, and old-school rap, artists like LIZZ are melding the ubiquitous sounds of Chilean reggaeton with the current “trap” wave of North America, a marrying of styles that shows promise as the country’s next musical movement.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be publishing a series of mixes (in addition to the artists’ mixes) that showcase many of the electronic styles that emanate from Chile’s numerous independent music communities.  Often times, these micro-scenes work in proximity to each other without collaborating, so perhaps a more literal “fusion” of these styles could help catalyze artistic cooperation.

Chilean rapper, producer, and DJ, LIZZ. Photo courtesy of artist.
Mika Martini and Pablo Flores perform as C/VVV at Netlabel Day Chile 2016. Centro Cultural de España, Santiago, Chile.
Sheevo performs live at Cafe con Cables. Cafe Huelen 85, Santiago, Chile.
Martín Bakero and Lucina Paz perform live at Encuentro de Sonido y Música Experimental. Matucana 100, Santiago Chile.

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