Occur Goes Global - The Music of Costa Rica

Welcome to the land of pura vida, an expression Costa Ricans use in gratitude. Their nation is the jewel of Central America, full of tropical rainforests and a plethora of music and art. Here are five entities rocking 'Rica, in genres ranging from rap to Celtic folk.


We were already enamored of this spacey soca group, thanks to the buzz-worthy single “Chúcaro.” Their 2016 album of the same name bears resemblance to Phoenix, Miike Snow and Ozomatli in their embrace of synths and fervent percussion. Javier Arce has a voice that cuts through the din, raspy yet amiable.


Aiming to bring more social justice and profundity to hip-hip, Mystico, Poeta and Enigma draw from all faiths and sounds. Take a look at their self-titled video, and you’re inundated with imagery ranging from Egyptian hieroglyphics to Masonry and Hinduism. Their jams rage in the vein of Wu Tang Clan and Everlast, and they’re appropriately signed to the Resistencia Subversiva label. (Thanks to La Nación for the suggestion.)


Think of this bristling screamo band as Slipknot fronted by AFI’s Davey Havok. The guitars come in hot and heavy, thanks to Emma and Pablo; and the drums and bass courtesy Nara and Contreras will drill themselves into your skull. Add vocalist Mauni to your mental Rolodex as one of the genre’s most vital names. (Thank you to for introducing us to Akasha’s music.)

Las Robertas

Las Robertas will make you feel like you died and went to rock ‘n’ roll heaven. Front woman Mercedes Oller is the lovechild of Nico and Alison Mosshart, oozing cool confidence. The trio have been making the rounds on the festival circuit for a few years and will be returning to the United States this summer. Catch them in concert and kneel. (Cheers to NPR for the suggestion. Lead image by Elisa Bergel Melo.)

Peregrino Gris

Multicultural genres such as calypso and samba are popular in Costa Rica; Celtic folk is decided not. Yet Peregrino Gris have such a mastery over the style, you’d think it were native to their country. The collective fuses Central American instruments such as ocarinas into a mix of acoustic guitars and lightly brushed drums, creating a magical vibe.

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