Category Archives: Festivals

The muses of La Musa: Holly Herndon

Since releasing “Movement” a decade ago, Herndon has consistently pushed at the boundaries of music creation, in the process further erasing the line between programmer and musician. Concerned intimately with the internet and the networked individual, her 2015 LP Platform is considered a watershed moment in the scene. As we approach the end of the decade, Holly continues to explore the nature of our reality as humans through technology like no other being. Today at 16.30 at Sónar.

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Sónar 2019

The Sónar festival of arts, design, and electronic and advanced music, which won the Time Out Barcelona Award for 2018, fills up the summer in the city once again – from Thursday, July 18 to Saturday, July 20, this year a month later than usual – with top-notch artists such as American rapper A$AP Rocky and London grime producer and MC Skepta, as well as emerging stars like Ross From Friends, Octavian, Murlo, Bad Gyal and DJ Andy C.

Bad Bunny is a Puerto Rican international superstar, singer and producer who moves between pop, trap and reggaeton, and he’s one of the big draws to Sónar by Night this year. As for experimental music during the festival, Sónar closes out this year’s edition with The Matthew Herbert Brexit Big Band on Sunday July 21 at the Teatre Grec, where the Herbert is accompanied on stage by more than 20 musicians and 50 voices from the local Pilot Choir from the ESMUC music school.

The audiovisual projects from Daito Manabe and ZA! show us how music affects our brains, and audiovisuals also play a part in ‘Flamenco is not a crime’ from Los Voluble (who you may have caught if you were at Sónar in 2015). They’re added to a line-up that also includes performances by avant-garde pioneers in Spain Macromassa (Víctor Nubla and Juan Crek), Eastern rhythms from Acid Arab, and sessions by Louie Vega & Honey Dijon, Jarreau Vandal and DJ Krush, among others.

Other big draws to this 26th edition are British band Disclosure with their quality house with mainstream potential and a new DJ show, and the new live show from Paul Kalkbrenner, one of the most homegrown producers on the Berlin techno scene, with his eighth effort, ‘Parts of Life’ (2018); performances by Four Tet (in their only festival show in Spain this year); Arca, presenting new material; hip-hop hero Vince Staples; a session from DJ Koze; an audiovisual show from Underworld; Holly Herndon, accompanied by an ensemble of vocalists, musicians, and AI machines; and live acts by Jlin, Kaytranada and Fennesz.

As for the DJ sessions, watch out for Dixon, closing out Sónar by Night on Saturday, the six-hour set from Floating Points, Maya Jane Coles (presenting her project of urban bases, Nocturnal Sunshine, during Sónar by Day), Amelie Lens, Artwork, and Blawan & Dax J. More recently added to the line-up of DJ sets are Daniel Avery, Erol Alkan and Body & Soul, and the live shows from Dengue Dengue Dengue, Kelly Moran (with a spectactular Grand Piano AV Show), and Red Axes.

As usual, the audiovisual shows are also a big attraction, like the one being debuted by British producer Actress, who will perform live with AI software, the one from Tunisian producer Deena Abdelwahed, and the one from Berlin art-grime figure Lotic.

You’ll also be able to check out live shows from Nicola Cruz, K Á R Y Y N, Mans O, pianist Bruce Brubaker (who, along with electronic music producer Max Cooper, recreates ‘Glassforms’ by minimalist composer Philip Glass), FKJ, Slikback, Hibotep, Catnapp, Cecilio G, Brat Star and De Valentina.

Another of the festival’s strengths is the Sónar+D congress dedicated to creative technologies, which this year is now in its 7th edition and on from July 17 to 20, bringing together key people and projects that are shaping the future of design, music and creative technologies.

Highlights include the design of experiences with teamLab, an interdisciplinary study of immersive digital technology recognized worldwide as the most influential in the field of digital creation, and Japan’s Daito Manabe and neuroscientist Yukiyasu Kamitani, who will present their unique research to visualize our thoughts.

You can also learn about the success stories of CANADA (tops in the field of directing videos), Teenage Engineering (Swedish synthesizer design company), and the multi-award-winning artistic videogame Gris.

Divus Julius presents: Octavian

Everyone is talking about Octavian. With one foot in Grime and the other in the spaciest reaches of the rap world, this young French born, London based artist has quickly found his own sound, impossible to categorise but unquestionably unique. His lyrics, mature, reflective but honed in the streets, convey the worldly nature of a man who at 21 years of age has been through the death of his father, a cultural uprooting (from France to Camberwell) and the contradictory peaks of attending two years on a scholarship to London’s private Brit School, followed by long stretches sleeping between friends sofas and the street.

Perhaps it’s due to these conflicting experiences that his tracks startle for their open minded approach to genre: drawing on spacey synths and hard edged trap beats, before veering into house or techno breakdowns. This virtuosity is on display in his early hits – Party Here (with more than a million views on youtube), 100 Degrees or Little – as well as across his two mixtapes to date: Essie World and Spaceman, both of which were critically lauded for their intelligence, authenticity, range and profound sense of rhythm.  This friday at 00.50AM at Sónar.

Favourite Gig: Kraftwerk

Following their successful worldwide 3D concert tours, the pioneers of electronic music Kraftwerk present their show at the Festival Jardins Pedralbes. Their compositions, which employ innovative techniques, synthetic voices and computerized beats, have made a huge international impact on so many music genres. During their live concerts, Kraftwerk (made up of Ralf Hütter, Henning Schmitz, Fritz Hilpert and Falk Grieffenhagen) illustrate their belief in the respective contributions of human and machine.

The muses of La Musa: Zaz

Isabelle Geffroy, best known for her artistic nickname Zaz, will perform today at Festival Cruïlla. Her first album Zaz broke record sales in her native France, and the song Je Veux placed her among the most successful artists of her country.

Today she returns to Parc del Fòrum to present the songs of her new album Effet miroir. in what will be her only performance in Catalonia during the summer.

Vida Festival 2019

Last year during the fifth anniversary of the Vida music festival, they announced that British band The Charlatans would be headliners for the 2019 edition, and since then the international festival, which takes place in natural surrounds in nearby Vilanova i la Geltrú, has carried on bringing in more Anglo-based pop, rock, electronic and folk acts.

For example, you’ll also get to see veteran band Madness, who have been mixing pop, punk and ska in their eternal hits for some 40 years. Also among the first confirmed are house-pop from Londoners Hot Chip; magic folk with hints of Balkan sounds from Beirut; a new, sharper and more powerful sound from American artist Sharon Van Etten, presenting her new album; punk-pop from American band Superchunk; Él Mató a un Policía Motorizado, bringing alternative rock from Argentina; folk songs from Australians Stella Donnelly and Didirri; pop singer-songwriter Joan Colomo from right here in Catalonia; and elegant electronica from Catalan artist Carla.

Vida 2019 is on from Thursday, July 4 to Sunday, July 7 in the woodsy area of the Masía d’en Cabanyes in Vilanova i la Geltrú.

Festival Cruïlla 2019

The favourite summer festival of Barcelona locals, Cruïlla, proudly waves the flag of eclecticism, and this year puts on its tenth edition from July 3 to 6 at the Parc del Fòrum with a line-up filled with performances of all types of trends and musical styles.

The festival added an extra day this year to kick things off with a star act. Back in Barcelona a decade after their last performances, it’s the Black Eyed Peas. Fergie’s not with the band, but you won’t want to miss the founding MCs, Will.i.am, Apl.de.ap and producer Taboo, authors of hits like ‘I Gotta Feeling’ and ‘Pump It’, as they present their first album in eight years. Opening for them is young Norwegian artist Aurora, making her debut in Spain with her mix of folk and electronica.

This year Cruce perform on Thursday the 4th in a day dedicated to urban sounds and young audiences. Also confirmed for Thursday are rappers Natos and Waor, Ayax and Prok from Granada, and Lildami, who is popular on the Catalan trap scene.

Rock is the star of the day on Friday the 5th, with bands like the UK’s Bastille, presenting their expert live show; and you can also catch the return of Scottish outfit Garbage, 13 years after their last visit to Barcelona. Shirley Manson and company are back with a show full of nostalgia, where their best-known album – ‘Version 2.0’ – will shine two decades after its initial release, and you’ll also get to know some new tracks off their upcoming 2019 release. Keep an eye out for the first concert in Barcelona in more than three years by Oxford-based five-piece band Foals, where you can discover new songs from their forthcoming fifth album; Vetusta Morla, one of Spanish rock’s top bands in recent years, also celebrating their tenth birthday; and the mix of alternative pop with classic folk from Xoel López. Other confirmed names include Gang of Youths from Australia, who’ve become better known after having gone on tour with Foo Fighters; France’s Zaz, presenting ‘Effet miroir’ (2018); Catalan classics Els Pets; Dublin singer Dermot Kennedy; Iseo & DodosSound, who are embassadors of reggae in Spain; and DJ Amable.

A more eclectic line-up features on the final day, Australian pop diva Kylie Minogue, who’s one of the headliners on Saturday. This is also Kylie’s first and only big concert in Spain she’ll give to present her latest album, ‘Golden’ (2018). Also taking the stage are British band Years & Years; soul artist Michael Kiwanuka; the Brazilian festival that is Seu Jorge, who’s coming along with his band to show off the power of samba; Jorge Drexler, who recently won two Latin Grammys for ‘Salvavidas de Hielo’ (2017); Parov Stelar, the creator of electro swing; Marcelo D2, a legendary figure in Brazilian music and activism; Malian singer Oumou Sangare; duo Elyella; epic riffs from Cala Vento; metaphysical pop from El Petit de Cal Eril; and two big local bands: Love of Lesbian celebrate Cruïlla’s tenth anniversary by growing their live act to include a trio of horns (sax, trumpet, trombone), percussion, vibraphone and steel guitar; and Dorian, who filled Razzmatazz to the limit to present their album ‘Justicia universal’ (2018) in their home town.