Though you might be familiar with the major players in Latin music, there is a world of alternative artists who operate beyond traditional media to grow their fan bases. Latin America is host to a plethora of acts, some big in their own local territories, many worth discovering and adding to your playlists.
The 15th annual Latin Alternative Music Conference, held July 8-12 in New York City, gave artists from across Latin America and the US the chance to present their music in front of crowds during a series of showcases and concerts throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn. From up-and-comers, to Latin Grammy winners, LAMC served as a platform for these alternative musicians to represent their countries and sounds to spectators.
Here are five acts we caught that turned our heads:
Santé Les Amis (Uruguay)
Uruguayan indie-electro group Sante Les Amis made their US debut at Mercury Lounge on July 10th with an exuberant performance. The band was a huge stand out at LAMC, combining catchy rock riffs with bouncy dance grooves. Formed in Montevideo in 2007, the group has opened for Franz Ferdinand and shared stages with Foals and Calle 13. Their debut album “Sudamericana” was released in the US in March.
Danay Suarez (Cuba)
Hailing from Havana, Cuba, hip-hop artist Danay Suarez made her LAMC debut with two shows during the conference. At an acoustic set at SOB’s, Suarez exuded an authentic and captivating assertiveness with her bold and profound lyrics. The intimate set mesmerized the crowd, who she quickly had in her hand. A key player in Cuba’s underground rap movement, Suarez is currently working on her upcoming album “Palabras Manuales.”
Illya Kuryaki & The Valderramas (Argentina)
One of the more established bands to perform, Argentina’s Illya Kuryaki & The Valderramas took the stage at Prospect Park’s Bandshell as part of Celebrate Brooklyn’s concert series in conjunction with LAMC. After a 10 year hiatus, the Latin alternative funk/hip-hop group reunited for their latest album “Chances,” which spawned a Latin Grammy-winning track “Ula Ula.” The Brooklyn set had the crowd on their feet with older hits like “Abarajame” and new material.
Colombian band ChocQuibTown performed for their second time in NYC during the conference. A show at Prospect Park attracted a slew of Colombian fans, providing an energetic atmosphere to the show. The band combines Afro-Caribbean rhythms with funk and hip-hop, led by vocalists Carlos “Tostao” Valencia and Gloria “Goyo” Martinez, a married couple, and producer/rapper Miguel “Slow” Martinez, Goyo’s brother. The music radiates a genuine reflection of their roots with an compelling live performance. The group recently collaborated with Santana on the track “Iron Lion Zion” (also featuring Ziggy Marley), as well as with Carlos Vives on “El Mar de Tus Ojos.” ChocQuibTown’s upcoming album is set to come out in August.
Colombian singer and songwriter Esteban Mateus Williamson, better known as Esteman, combines pop and disco producing an uplifting sound. The carefree feeling of the music evokes a beachy vibe, perfect for driving around with the windows down. A recent collaboration with Mexican singer, and previous LAMC featured artist, Carla Morrison was released July 15th.