While it would be impossible to sum up all of 2020 in a single playlist, we wanted to take a look back at some of the monumental moments and artists that got El Sonido through last year. It was a complex and difficult year for many of us. but also a year that was rich in releases and fresh sounds. Below, we breakdown some of our favorite moments from each month of 2020 as well as our first ever video playlist on YouTube – curated by DJs Albina and Chilly – with the best Iberoamerican music videos of the year.
January 2020 began with the hope of it being a different year and, of course, it was. The pandemic was just beginning, but in the musical world of El Sonido we sent love to our friends in Puerto Rico who not only had just left a historic social movement in 2019 – which ended with the resignation of Governor Ricardo Rosselló led by artists Ricky Martin, Bud Bunny, René (Calle 13) and Ile – but during January the island was trying to recover from the Guayanilla Earthquake.
We highlight the cultural and musical scene of Puerto Rico, home to many of our most beloved artists. From the unbeatable Tego Calderon to the fresh solo career of iLe, who recently won a Latin Grammy with Natalia Lafourcade for her song “En Cantos”.
Our journey began here. We had many trips scheduled for 2020 throughout Latin America but the world's plans were different. Our co-host Albina Cabrera traveled to Mexico to begin coverage of the festival circuit, not knowing that they would be the last music festival with an audience in the old pre-pandemic normality. In total there were 3 incredible musical encounters: Carnaval de Bahidorá, NRMAL, and Vive Latino that developed with normality. Although some of the consequences of the virus were beginning to be seen, bringing cancellations of shows at the last minute and magical line-up changes.
We highlight the event from our friends and allies at the NRMAL festival that, after the cancellation by Flying Lotus just 24 hours before his headlining set, flipped up its line-up leaving the Argentine Juana Molina in charge of the closing of its eleventh edition. What happened that night was not only magical and foreboding but also gave birth to a live album by Juana that was released in 2020, eternalizing a historical moment, ANRMAL.
This month will be etched in our memory forever. The world turned off for a moment to reset itself into a new reality that is still hard to understand in its entirety. The virus advanced rapidly and the governments of the world began to close their borders, announce mandatory isolation and cancel all mass contact to avoid contagion. As of December, the World Health Organization reported 1,488,120 deaths worldwide. With El Sonido, we had prepared a very special showcase for the 2020 edition of the iconic SXSW festival curating a stage with Ibero-American artists that we like a lot like NEGRO (Mexico), Barbi Recanati (Argentina), Neoma (Ecuador), Tres Leches (Seattle) and Marem Ladson (Spain / US).
We highlight the composer and folk-pop artist, Marem Ladson, who grew up between New York and Galicia.
This month our first virtual music proposal arrived. With a concert circuit paralyzed, streaming shows began to be our way of sharing music with everyone and with a single click. We joined as curators of the opening day of Global Music Fest, an international festival based in Brazil which had artists from 8 different countries. El Sonido curated a virtual stage with presentations by Barbi Recanati (Argentina), Marineros (Chile), El Shirota (Mexico), Riel (Argentina), and Tres Leches (Seattle). This was possible thanks to the invitation from Brain Productions and Minuto Indie BR.
The highlight is from Chile’s Marineros who started 2020 by launching this video:
The Black Lives Matters movement generated a before and after in society, not only in the United States but throughout the world. The call for more justice, equality, and less police violence marked the calendar of an overloaded 2020.
We want to highlight a rapper from Portland who mesmerized us at Pickathon 2019 where she gave an exclusive set after an interview conducted by artist and co-founder of She Shreds Magazine, Fabi Reyna. An explosive and mind-opening encounter that had its return in this musical collaboration, whose video was released at the beginning of the year.
In June a new edition of the Latin Alternative Music Conference was held, which is normally based in New York but this time it was online. El Sonido is usually present covering each edition of one of the most anticipated meetings of friends from the alternative music industry. On this occasion, DJ Chilly was invited to do a very special interview with Li Saumet, Bomba Estéreo singer, about the international impact of the session they recorded at KEXP seven years ago and how it continues to be one of our most-watched sessions of all time.
In July we mourned a loss that shook the Latin American indie rock scene. The Argentine poet, actress, songwriter and singer, Rosario Blefari, died at the age of 54 after her battle with cancer. Rosario left behind a rich, diverse and moving collection of work that is a fundamental part of the construction of Latin American indie rock. Her time in the band Suarez, and then in her solo career, transformed Rosario into a cult artist, but also a source of inspiration for numerous bands of the new musical generation from Argentina and beyond.
August brought the exciting news that El Sonido’s Albina Cabrera would officially come on board as co-host of the program and become KEXP’s Latin content producer. Albina brings her talent and expertise, passion for Ibero-American music, and perspective to the team, opening up new doors for fresh voices and a collaborative community. While her unique taste in music will bring new flavors to the airwaves, her interviews and live sessions in both Spanish and English, alongside Latinx and Spanish-language content for KEXP will help us all connect with more artists and listeners from around the world. Her addition is part of KEXP’s amazing new line-up of shows and DJs set to share their diverse mix of talents, tastes, and experiences with our KEXP family and cultivate the next generation.
In September we had the opportunity to carry out another annual celebration of Latin American music under the special programming that we call Latinx Heritage Month. It was a month of exclusive content that you can enjoy again here and that allowed us to partner for the first time with our friends from Vice and Noisey en Español. Together we made 4 exclusive video productions called Línea Directa, which reviewed multiple perspectives on musical identity and culture in Latin America through the voices of artists, producers, music journalists and music community from all over the region.
During October KEXP celebrated Indigenous Peoples Day with special programming that featured tons of new music by Native American artists from around the world. That is why El Sonido wants to highlight the composer with indigenous roots from San Basilio de Palenque (Colombia), part of the Wayuu community, Lido Pimienta.
Lido released one of the highest-rated albums of 2020, Miss Colombia, and was recently part of And To All A Good Home, a benefit series supporting Mary’s Place and the No Child Sleeps Outside campaign.
As part of our celebrations for Latinx Heritage Month, we created an alliance with the Ministry of Culture of Argentina and the largest cultural center in South America, the Nestor Kirchner Cultural Center (CCK), where we recorded the Live on KEXP at Home session with one of the most outstanding rockers of the new Argentine music scene, Marilina Bertoldi.
The end of 2020 had finally arrived! As if that wasn't enough to celebrate already it was also the 500 episode anniversary of El Sonido. As a gift to our loyal listeners we compiled a playlist on Spotify that features some of our favorite tracks, throughout the history of the show.