Latin artists from Latin America and the U.S. are making more noise in the electronic music space.
Last year, 100 Latino, Spanish, and Portuguese producers banded together to create one song to raise awareness of the talent in those countries. That project was led by Mexican DJ Broz Rodriguez, who is reinventing Mexican classics with a house music spin. Meanwhile, Colombian producer Sinego, is a pioneer in house boleros. There’s also Mexican-American DJ Deorro and Brazilian producer Alok, who are playing all the major electronic festivals. And that’s not all.
In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, Billboard Dance is highlighting 10 Latin producers, both up-and-comers and more established veterans, who are shaking up the electronic music scene — from house and lo-fi to Latin-influenced EDM and experimental tunes.
Víctor Cárdenas hails from Valle del Cauca in Colombia. Before the Dance Club Songs chart was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, his song “Baila Conmigo” reached No. 1 on the listing via Jennifer Lopez, who adapted the song (along with Cárdenas and Dayvi) into a 2020 chart-topper. He’s a pioneer of Colombian guaracha, a Latin take on tribal house music that’s gaining popularity as it’s embraced by artists like Maluma, who used it on last year’s Cárdenas-produced “Qué Chimba.” Cárdenas is also the producer behind the guaracha on Farruko’s global smash “Pepas,” which is currently in its sixth week at No. 1 on Hot Dance/Electronic Songs.
Chilean producer and musician Javiera Mena is a veteran of the electronic music space. She first embraced synth-pop with her 2010 album Mena. With her 2014 follow-up album Otra Era, she was writing more about queer themes as an openly lesbian artist, like in the classic “Espada.” In time for Pride month (and her birthday), she released her EP I. Entusiasmo in June. Among the new songs are the queer anthem “Diva,” a house track she co-produced with Spanish artist Chico Blanco. Last month, Mena released a deluxe edition of Entusiasmo, which includes a variety of club remixes.
MULA is an electronic outfit from the Dominican Republic. The trio is comprised of twins Anabel and Cristabel Acevedo, along with producer Rachel Rojas. The women are known for blending electronic music with Caribbean sounds that are representative of their roots. MULA broke out in 2019, after featuring on Tittsworth and Dave Nada’s “Te Encontré,” and this year, their song “Quiero Que Tú Quieras” went viral after getting played on the hit Netflix show Élite. Openly queer, the women are pushing for LGBTQ+ representation through tracks like 2017’s “Espejos En Las Azoteas (1965),” a song that references La Cuadrilla Chancleta, a guerilla group comprised of sex workers and members of the LGBTQ+ community who fought in the 1965 Dominican Civil War.
In the Latin electronic scene, Mariana BO — from Culiacán, Sinaloa — is holding it down for the Mexican women. In 2018, she signed with Spinnin’ Records to help give the label a more global sound, but she’s never limited herself to one genre. Among her hits are the bass house anthem “Feeling Good,” the flamenco-influenced “Olé Olé,” and the aptly titled, electro-swing banger “Paris,” featuring Shibui. In honor of September 16’s Fiestas Patrias, or Mexican Independence Day, BO also dropped her house version of the classic “Tequila” with JetLag Music and Lazy Bear.
The Martinez Brothers
Steve and Chris Martinez comprise The Martinez Brothers. The Bronx-born siblings are Nuyorican, or New York natives of Puerto Rican descent, and have a career that spans over a decade of playing house music around the world — including Ibiza, where they’ll close out a residency at Ushuaia’s outdoor venue, Palmarama on October 3. The DJs made a Latin music splash on last year’s “Química” with Rauw Alejandro, Zion y Lennox, and Mr. NaisGai. The reggaetón song explodes into a burst of house music. The Martinez Brothers also again recently blended their Latin roots with house on “PAP (Pendiente Al Paso)” with Fuego.
Chema Rodriguez, who’s better known as the producer Palmasur, hails from Puebla, Mexico. A leader of the Latin lo-fi movement, Palmasur has amassed a sizable following on YouTube and TikTok in the wake of his 2018 debut album Onironauta. This past June, he anchored the first Latin lo-fi compilation, El Dia Más Largo, released via the Los Angeles-based Acrylic Label, with whom Palmasur also recently signed. The album features Palmasur songs like the tropical delight “Parque de Bugambilias” with Peruvian duo Dengue Dengue Dengue, and “Noche En México,” which blends sounds of the capital city’s nightlife with elements of jazz and hip-hop. Spotify also enlisted Palmasur as the curator of its Lo-Fi Mexa playlist.
Christian Ariza, better known as Rad Cat, is an up-and-coming DJ and producer from San Diego, Calif. The Mexican-American artist’s music is inspired by elements of hip-hop and anime and last year his anime dreams came true when Nintendo picked up his cut “all good” for a Switch Lite commercial. After dabbling in future bass for a few years, Rad Cat is back to his house music roots on pop-inflected bangers like “Replay” with Skyler Cocco and “Happy Never After” with LA-based producer Dutch Melrose.
Experimental electronic producer Arca hails from Caracas, Venezuela. The artist (who was listed at No. 43 on Billboard‘s recent list of the 50 Greatest Producers of the 21st Century) is not only a force for Latin representation in the dance world, but, as a trans woman, also for LGBTQ+ representation. This year, her fourth album Kick I — which notably included more Latin influences in songs like “KLK” with Spanish pop star Rosalía — was nominated for Best/Dance Electronic Music at the Grammy Awards. Earlier this month, Lady Gaga enlisted Arca to remix her Hot 100 chart-topper “Rain on Me” with Ariana Grande, with the edit paying homage to Venezuela’s local electronic sound.
Héctor López is better known as his stage name Caleb Calloway. After nearly a decade of touring the world doing house sets, the Puerto Rican producer is now giving Latin music an electronic makeover. He’s the man behind Bad Bunny’s trap-tronica banger “Antes Que Se Acabe” and much of Rauw Alejandro’s alluringly electronic tunes like “Nubes.” Calloway is taking reggaetón and Latin trap music into the future by blending in elements of EDM. To remind people of his house roots, he also remixed Alejandro’s summer smash “Todo de Ti” with a Caribbean edge.
Fortu & Mendoza
Fortu & Mendoza hail from Mexico City. The duo is comprised of Mike Fortu and Mario Mendoza, who joined forces in 2016. The guys are known for their sexy future and deep house tracks “Dance in the Dark” with Robin Vvolf and “Show Me Love,” which both dropped last year. Fortu & Mendoza’s latest offering is the dreamy “Asteria” with fellow Mexican producer Youth in Circles. The guys have a knack for not just creating a song, but a musical experience, which draws in the listener and transports them to another world. That’s why Fortu & Mendoza are one of Mexico’s most in-demand DJ acts, having performed at the Mexican incarnations of both EDC and Ultra Music Festival in Mexico.