Slender as this South American country is, Chile has a robust, diverse music scene. Coupled with its pre-Colombian traditions, Spanish influence and modern flare, its cavalcade of dances and instruments makes for a most vibrant community. Here are five artists that embody the Chilean spirit.
The metal genre can intimidate the uninitiated. But Mano Humana are a great starting point for those timidly approaching the scene. The four fellows released their debut, Sombras, in 2015, solidifying their position as accessible metal mavens. Especially impressive is the interplay between Diego Valenzuela’s militant drumming and José Ignacio Guzmán’s winding bass licks. Thanks to Brave Words for the recommendation.
Sebastian Mella has kept Santiago on its feet since 1999, immersing himself in the ever-expanding world of EDM. His beats incorporate Spanish spoken world with synth-trance and flowing drops. Hand claps, marimba and melisma all contribute to his head-bopping vibe.
Bouncing from California to Chile and back again, this dual-hemisphere auteur pens poetry and dance music. Valenzuela is also a journalist and a fashion designer— it shows in her eclectic, pattern-heavy costumes. Also of note: She’s performed with the Foo Fighters’ Taylor Hawkins in his side project Chevy Metal.
Camila Moreno is part Karen O, part Joanna Newsom and all heart. Her latest, 2015’s Mala Madre, is spooky and shocking. Her vocals don’t rise above indoor level, but the ferocity of the drums and her subject matter (one title translates to “Your Mom Killed You”) makes her a must-listen. (Featured image by Togogallego/Wikimedia Commons)
Think of this revolutionary balladeer as the Alan Lomax of Chilean folk. Parra and her family would tour their country during her lifetime (1917-1967) to record indigenous sounds and instruments. Her efforts helped cultivate the political music movement Nueva Cancíon, in solidarity with the Chilean poor. “Gracias a la Vida” is considered a national treasure in Chile.
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