From the old guard to the new generation
With mainstream taking over electronic music, artists emigration and the closure of clubs and record shops one after the other, the new generation has been left with not so much opportunities. But Villalobos and friends let a strong imprint on the scene and those times are not easily forgettable. For some years now, a generation of rising artists has begun to emerge and to work on the sound of their country. Although it is still hard to make a living as a musician in Chile, more and more people are dedicating themselves to reviving the underground.
“Things are becoming very exciting here and with the art and music industry, and knowledge about them is expanding, the vibes at the parties is becoming something special,” said Gianni Ardito, DJ, and founder of the collective Berlino Events.
Young producers grew up with this idea to emigrate to Berlin or Europe, that in this place, all dreams come true. “I feel the need to travel out of Chile. Each tour I have done showed me new sounds and approaches. I personally enjoy playing in cities such as London or Berlin where the public is very educated in terms of electronic music. The vibes are special.” said Ardito. “However, it is our duty to keep developing everything in South America and to consolidate the electronic underground scene here in Chile.”
And many people decided to stick with this mindset, bringing back house and minimal down to the country.
“Additionally, I believe that European artists are also developing themselves musically while visiting this continent. There are many things for them to discover, that can help them to new content in their upcoming music.” Ardito thinks.
A revival of the Chilean scene?
Ardito developed Berlino Events in reaction to the mainstream and massive parties. The vision was super underground at first, learning from illegal raves. They are booking avant-garde artists and try to offer high quality and ear-friendly sound. “With the electronic commercial scene developing fast, the need for exploring unknown musical approaches arose leading to Berlino’s first event.”
Their imprint stands in the quality of the music and the bookings, but also in exploiting places that have not been used before. Their first gathering spot back in 2015: a hidden room inside the theatre ‘Caupolican’.
If there is another label and collective that need to be mentioned this definitely is Francisco Martinez’ Groove and Flavor one. They always book at least two national artists at their parties, and with that, they have been trying to enhance and unite the South American scene. “One of the reasons Groove & Flavor is born is to give the national DJ a presence on the underground scene, give it the value it deserves in this important and transcendent genre” said Martinez. They’ve been working hand-to-hand with Berlino that it is during their parties in Chile or on tour.
“I think it is important to have a platform for new and old-school Chilean artists where they can connect to each other all around South America” recalled Ardito. They’ve been creating a close partnership with neighbours’ countries such as Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil and are constantly inviting their artists to Chile.
Six years ago, Secret Society also took over the mission to keep the underground scene alive. “I am trying to push it in the Ricardo way” told us Joaquín Lledo, the face behind the collective and now record label. “I really want the scene to grow up properly.” And with this attitude, he tried to book at least one international artist per month with recently John Dimas or Lee Burton. The main goal: keeping house, minimal and micro on, and educating the public to music coming from Romania and Europe. Sushanti is also still working on bringing artists down to South America such as the Perlon family or Romanians and is preparing new sounds and concepts for the years to come.
With the same perspective as Lledo, Cristian Cosignani committed to the Chilean scene in 2017 by working on a record shop dedicated to electronic music. Bringing fresh new releases from around the world to Chile, he tries to give the new generation an open vision of music. “The interest for vinyl is going stronger every day and I see that the young generation love owning records from some of the favourite’s artists instead of having one track on mp3.”
Working with vinyl became also obvious for Joaquín. He made Secret Society Chile a vinyl record label, “to make it properly, to have it physical.” First distributed by Aron, it is now Yoyaku who is in charge of the distribution. Moreover, he decided to dedicate his sub-label Southern Magic to Chilean talents. “I believe the new scene is growing, kids start to make music now. In the past, they were mainly DJing.”
A rising generation of producers
“Currently, I think that more organic sounds are being used and developing into more minimal rhythms, nevertheless, always with a danceable groove” said Cosignani.
More and more Chileans got into music production lately, which led to a new generation of artist. Felipe Venegas recently opened an academy called ‘Casa de Sonido’ where students are able to learn from experienced DJs, including a special class with UMHO…
“There is a big number of talented people in Chile that has a lot to offer. Young people are developing their creativity resulting in talented DJs and producers” said Ardito.
And indeed, along with Francisco Martinez, they developed the label Guaguanco Ritmos Del Sur to unite and enhance the oldest scene with the new one at the South American level. They’ve been working with artists from the continent such as Argentinians Guillermo de Caminos and Lautaro Scavuzzo and Manglus from Uruguay.
Claudio Solis, boss of the label Agua Y Sed for 11 years now, decided to work closely to the sound of his continent as well. “I want to pursue my own culture and to work on the sound of my country, with my own people.” Now, 99% of the label is local with the goal to give voice to local artists. Romania built its scene with its own imprint and producers, for Solis, this is a model. Working on his country’s sound and imprint. “I tried to make like them, to be a producer, to have my own sound and my own story. For me, to be an artist is to make your own art.” With this said, Agua Y Sed features talents such as Delphie, Miguel Lobo, Larry Peters also known as Liro, or Etro Hahn to name a few.
And indeed, those guys are talents to follow. Liro and Etro Hahn are making their way properly by bringing the Chilean touch to any of their minimal and house productions. Last in date: Raro EP Part 2 released on Cumpa Limited, the continuation of Que Groove released in 2017.
Sebastián Mella aka Fantasna is definitely another one to mention. He developed his own style by going all around house, from garage to minimal, and flirts with ambient, acid or electro. After years of producing music, he launched his own label Halcxn earlier this year. It aims to be a platform dedicated to the new music of Chile and the future of the region. The third release of the label, NSNC, is true to the sound of the country. Suiting with the local environment, it shifts “from the intensity of the city to the calm of the natural space.“
Ending our scouting of Chileans talents, the Argentinian-born Delphie could not be part of our focus. Working hard on Santiago’s electronic landscape, you can hear her last production on Secret Society’s Tremo EP. For this project, she shares her minimal-deep house-electro-breakbeat sound with the Chilean duo Joaquin Lledo and Ron Viners aka Future Memories.
A final word
With the new post-pandemic reality, people need to learn to consume their own culture instead of always looking at what is going on outside.
For Venegas, there’s no purpose of bringing famous and expensive international DJs as Chile is a country that generates great exponents of electronic music. “To come to Chile you must leave a horrible carbon footprint for the environment. That is a slap in the face for those of us who are promoting electronic culture from here. In this awakening of consciousness that the planet lives, we must correct many behaviours that we used to consider normal.
“A call to these generations to be brave and not let concerns overshadow you. Continue to shine with your light and smile, even if you don’t see it through the mask, you keep smiling. Thank you for contributing to the universal electronic scene and his history, keep it up.” – UMHO
And to conclude this journey, we would like to express a huge thanks to everybody who helped to get this piece together, gave their contribution or point of view and described the story and evolution of the country sound. In particular: Felipe Valenzuela, Argenis Brito, Marcelo Umaña, UMHO, Carlos Cornejo, Dani Casarano, Dandy Jack, Carlos Latorre, Francisco Martinez, Gianni Ardito, Joaquín Lledo, Claudio Solis, Felipe Venegas, Cristian Cosignani.
NB : This series came as a focus on the underground chilean music with a non-exhaustive selection of the redaction. Electronic music in Chile involved and is still involving many other actors and people working on the scene. We couldn’t mention every single person here but let’s not forget it arose from the collective work of producers, promoters, club owners, DJs etc.