For many Latin indie melomaniacs in the late 2000s to early ‘10s across Ibero-America searching the blogosphere, Club Fonograma was the Latin indie-music bible. Its founder, Arizona-based Chicano recluse and self-proclaimed cinephile Carlos Reyes, created an unlikely community of “Fonogramáticos” that outsized any expectations for what was supposed to be a tiny blog. He previously said that he simply wanted to show his friends the cool music he listened to. But on Tuesday night (Dec. 27), Club Fonograma’s official Twitter account shared the news that the website’s founder had died in 2021. He was 34 years old.
“With deep sadness, the Club Fonograma family announces the passing of our site’s founder, Carlos Reyes. His spirit of discovery and kindness was the soul of Club Fonograma, which in turn changed the lives of so many people around the world,” the site’s account shared.
Billboard Español reached out to his family, but they declined to share further details. However, Ricardo Reyes, his twin brother, offered a statement to us:
“Dear Club Fonograma, with my heart in my hands, I want to inform you that my brother Carlos Reyes passed away last year. It has taken me time and emotional courage to write this message but I am writing to say, thank you. Thank you for sharing so much love, joy, knowledge, inspiration, growth, and creativity with my brother. Without a doubt, the work and family he found when creating Club Fonograma was one of the things that brought him the greatest happiness.”
With Club Fonograma, Reyes helped break underground music scenes, such as Chilean indie pop led by Javiera Mena, Dënver, and Alex Anwandter; Tijuana’s ruidosón movement, consisting of María y José and Los Macuanos; Spain’s indie rock explosion with Triángulo de Amor Bizarro and Los Planetas, and beyond. He, along with his camp of about a dozen writers, helped position Ibero-American singer-songwriters, electronic producers and indie rockers alike in a poetic light with gripping album and song reviews, back when Spanish-language indie-music criticism in English was nearly non-existent.
“When Carlos Reyes created Club Fonograma, he did something that critics do not usually do: Think of the Latin American music scene as a whole, each country with its own color, but united. Hopefully someday we will be able to recover that spirit of unity,” one follower tweeted in Spanish.
The news of his death resulted in an outpouring of reactions on social media. Mexican singer-composer Julieta Venegas tweeted in Spanish on Wednesday (Dec. 28), “I am very sad to hear about this. Club Fonograma was a wonderful space for criticism and promotion of Latin and alternative music, I always remember it with great affection. May you rest in peace dear Carlos. A hug and love to his family and friends.”
Ecuadorian singer-producer Helado Negro tweeted, “I’m heartbroken. I want to share more but I’m brain is in shock. Carlos’ work passion and love through Club Fonograma meant so much to all of us.” Monterrey indie rock band Quiero Club added: “Rest in power, dear and admired Carlos. You have all our gratitude, admiration and affection. A big hug for your family and the family of the friends of Club Fonograma.”
USC professor Josh Kun tweeted, “Absolutely heartbroken to read the news of Carlos Reyes’ passing. With Club Fonograma, he created the first digital space for Latin indie, in many ways the site created Latin indie itself. He shaped a generation of tastes and built a community of fans, friends, & musicians.”
Former Club Fonograma writer and journalist Andrew Casillas also shared his thoughts: “It’s unfathomable how important Carlos is to the current state of Spanish language pop music,” Casillas tweeted. “He considered himself a cinephile first, but he had an ear that was 20 years ahead of its time. The world is lesser without him in it, but the art that he championed will live forever.”
Los Macuanos member and freelance writer Reuben Torres also wrote on Twitter: “Reyes was a pioneer in every sense of the word. The amount of music journalists, artists and listeners that he influenced cannot be measured. Simply put, Latin music would not be what it is today without that tiny little blog he started over a decade ago. QEDP King.”
NPR podcaster Jasmine Garsd claimed on Twitter that “AltLatino would not exist without Carlos Reyes and Club Fonograma. His curiosity and respect for Latin music were a constant inspiration, and it was such a pleasure to collaborate with him. What a loss.”
As a tribute to Reyes’ legacy, the former writers of the blog created Old Fonograma, an archive with content from of the original website.