Fifteen artists for the 20th C
Solely responsible for turning Barcelona into the universal capital of electronica over three days in June this year the programme features serious heavyweights who over the years have practically come to define the brand that is Sónar. There aren’t that many surprises but we do have several artists riding the crest of a wave as well as a few other return visits who, for yet another year make Sónar an obligatory visit over this highly charged weekend. Here below we’ve put together an overview of the most noteworthy artists that will be performing at the Fira de Montjuïc for Sónar Day and the two dates for Sónar Night.
Sónar by Day, Airel Martini, Sónar 2014
SÓNAR BY DAY
Hot Chip (Thursday 18th of June)
Already established classics on the festival circuit in Barcelona, this London band has been exploring the electro-pop genre for a decade and a half, their music can sometimes be ironic and insightful or alternatively just be about love. The excuse for this tour is the recent release of their new album 'Why make sense?' anxiously awaited by their loyal fans. Always good live.
Hot Chip ©Steve Gullick
Arca y Jesse Kanda (Thursday 18th of June)
One of the few artists right now that could be said to be creating a new and unclassifiable sound. The Colombian producer Alejandro Ghersi, known as Arca, who has become famous recently for his work on Kanye West’s 'Yeesus', as well as having co-produced the latest work by Björk and FKA Twigs, in addition to releasing his debut solo album 'Xen', which has been very well received by critics. For this edition he’ll be including a visual spectacle designed by the plastic artist Jesse Kanda, which will be one of the few occasions they’ll be presenting the show live this year. Expectations for the Barcelona debut of this young guy, who’s is only 25, are very, very high.
Arca ©Daniel Sannwald
Autechre (Thursday 18th of June)
Rob Brown and Sean Booth have been making music together for over 25 years and are considered two of the most important and influential figures of what was once called intelligent dance music or IDM, the main music label and ambassador for which was Warp, to which they are still signed. Not renowned for their live performances, they are not big into touring, this will be their first appearance at the festival in 19 years. Authors of classic albums such as 'Amber', 'Tri Repetae' and most recently 'Exai', without these two guys it would be impossible to understand the radical change that Radiohead underwent after 'Kid A', or any of the current variants on experimental electronica. It’s simply impossible to resist the fascination of their algebraic and broken rhythms.
Squarepusher (Friday 19th of June)
Another of the big stars of the Warp label is Squarepusher, the most successful project from English musician Tom Jenkinson, who has also been producing electronic music for over 20 years; music that defies genres, conventions and accepted ways of building rhythms. An opportunity to present his new album: 'Damogen Furies', for which he’s said he wanted to “explore the most hallucinatory, nightmarish and brutally visceral capabilities of electronic music.” This will be backed up by a new mise-en-scene and his very own sound system, guaranteed to be a spectacle showcasing the latest in sound technology.
Henrik Schwarz (Friday 19th of June)
This year the place of honour for the closing night at SonarVillage’s open air stage belongs to Henrik Schwarz, an extraordinary and genuine exponent of current German house. A musician who has just released an album featuring chamber orchestral arrangements of his compositions, when it comes to the decks and dance however he employs his irresistible production skills freely sampling soul, jazz and funk. One of the key figures in terms of the infectious sounds of current house.
SÓNAR BY NIGHT
Róisín Murphy (Friday 19th of June)
It’s been a while now that we’ve been asking ourselves what became of Róisín Murphy, and why hasn’t she released anything significant other than a few tracks since her masterwork 'Overpowered' back in 2007. Turns out Roisín became a full time mother but recently has dropped a few clues that her maternity leave is coming to an end with the release of an EP filled with her own versions of Italian pop songs from lat year. The long wait is over and her new album 'Hairless Toys' is now ready and being introduced with the track 'Gone fishing'. She’ll be performing with a new band and we can expect versions of her solo hits as well as Moloko classics.
Tiga Live (Friday 19th of June)
Canadian Tiga achieved fame back in 2001 when he released his version of 'Sunglasses at night' and assumed leadership of the emerging electroclash genre. From then on the dance floor hits came thick and fast, like 'Pleasure from the bass', 'You gonna want me,' or 'Shoes'. The funny thing is that being a composer and vocalist, he had previously only used pre-recorded samples of his voice while Djing, now he’ll be making his debut as a live artist at Sonar where for the first time ever he’ll be singing and performing his many hits live on stage. There’s a lot of anticipation as to how this popular artist makes good on this long standing promise.
Die Antwoord (Friday 19th of June)
Well established classic Sonar act, South Africans Ninja and Yo-Landi once again return to Barcelona after their sojourn into film with 'Chappie' directed by fellow country man Neil Blomkamp. The pretext here is the presentation of their latest album 'Donker Mag' (meaning Dark Power in Afrikaans), which has already established them as superstars giving them the chance to put people like Flea or Marilyn Manson into their videos, while also sampling Aphex Twin. Difficult to resist these two when they’re on stage and get the crowd cheering with microphones in hand.
Seth Troxler (Friday 19th of June)
Undoubtedly the undisputed 'star' of American house right now, this DJ incorporates influences indistinguishably from Chicago and Detroit, from Moodymann and Ritchie Hawtin, a guy who really understands what USA electronica is all about which he moulds to his own style. He’s one of the most extensively travelled Djs, a serious undertaking that has kept him in the Top 5 Djs as voted for by the Resident Advisor web, reaching No. 1 back in 2012. Never disappoints.
Seth Troxler ©Stephanie Smith
A$AP Rocky (Friday 19th of June)
This rap artist from Harlem born in 1988 is a proper superstar back at home in the US as well as being the most visible part of the hip hop A$AP Mob collective. Their debut album 'Long Live A$AP' from back in 2013 is considered one of the top records of its genre even up till today, it was a No. 1 best seller on the album charts in the States on release, amongst its many credited producers is another artist who’ll be performing here on Friday: Skrillex, the generally recognised but nonetheless controversial leader of this hyper commercial musical style known as EDM.
A$AP Rocky ©Julianes Sink
Duran Duran (Saturday 20th of June)
Absolute classic artists form the 1980s, the band made up by Simon Le Bon, John Taylor, Roger Taylor and Nick Rhodes has survived changing fashions based on solid songmanship and sheer determination. On the verge of releasing their 14th studio album which sees them reunite with Mark Ronson and Nile Rodgers, they’ll be performing a muscular music set at Sonar including their classic hits as well as a few more recent gems.
The Chemical Brothers (Saturday 20th of June)
Another classic, this time from the 90s the duo formed by Tom Rowlands and Ed Simmons will be performing their as yet un-named ninth album which is expected to be released shortly. Absolute masters of electronica for the masses, their live shows are always surprising thanks to the input from visual artist Adam Smith who this time round also promises to provide a breath taking spectacle.
FKA Twigs (Saturday 20th of June)
Releasing an LP and two EPs was enough to have music critics falling at her feet. The singer, producer, dancer and video artist Tahlilah Barnett, better known as FKA Twigs is renowned for her dark hybrid compositions of trip hop and dubstep, where her siren like vocals are laid over a bed of synthesizers, deep bass and broken beats that sound totally new to the pop song format. Either you love it or hate it, it’s impossible to be indifferent.
Dubfire: Live Hybrid (Saturday 20th of June)
Ali Shirazinia hardly needs an introduction he was the reigning master of deep house during the 90s, one half of the Deep Dish duo, after its break up he followed his career as a solo DJ and producer. Now he’ll be presenting a new audiovisual show called Hybrid that combines multiple overlapping projections of art images and a set of high tech strobe lights.
Laurent Garnier (Saturday 20th of June)
Master, myth, never disappoints .... not much else to say.
- For more information, prices, complete programme and timetable see