We’re always on the look out for new talent and communities to spotlight, and who better to give us the local rundown than the scene-dwellers themselves? In this installment of Best & Brightest, we turn to Ecuador, where Emilia Bahamonde of shoegaze band Sexores, and Leo Suarez of El Tipo Gris (formerly of indie music site Radio Cocoa) are helping shape the local music scene. Chances are, if you were watching the Super Bowl yesterday you caught Ecuador’s history-making tourism commercial. There are plenty of reasons to visit Ecuador beyond the scenic flora and fauna featured in the ad, and a bourgeoning and underrated indie music scene is definitely one of them.
Here, Emilia and Leo share their picks for where to look next for boundary-pushing music.
Munn have established themselves as one of the leading bands in Ecuador’s indie scene, through their signature fusion of trip hop/electronic sounds with unexpected woodwind instruments like clarinets and sax. The atmospheric result has gotten them on festival line ups including Quitofest 2013, Santiago Independiente 2013 (Chile), and El Carpazo 2014. Their latest album, AQUI/AHORA drops at the end of last year.
Pichirilo Radioactive is a big brass band blending funk and jazz sounds with psychedelic cumbia and reinvented folklor. They’re putting on some of the most intense live shows in Quito right now, with a massive sound that comes from 6 brass players, a bassist and a drummer.
Mamá, soy demente
This experimental rock band from Guayaquil mixes a variety of styles and colors, with an unpredictable, visceral result. Founded in 2005 by Carlos Bohórquez y Dennis Darquea – who go by El Ermitaño and Jolgorio Vocal – they recently dropped their 3rd studio album El Disco Rojo via Ermitaño Records, which has been getting lots of buzz.
Guayaquil’s Fabrikante is one-man sound machine, making tribal-tinged, hip-hop-influenced pop with heavy elements of freak folk. Last summer, he dropped video “El Maqui,” showcasing his brand of highly corporal, DIY technique. More recently, he launched a fun, weird acoustic radioplay called Cuentos del Tambor, which you can listen to in its entirety here.
Ricardo Pita has been on the scene for nearly 15 years now, playing with bands like AVE and Niñosaurios. In 2013 he struck out on his own, crafting a lilting, feel-good folk-rock sound that draws from such diverse influences as balkan music, swing, jazz, flamenco, folclor andino, and tropical sounds.
Alkaloides make catchy, lo-fi garage rock, engineered for the dance floor. Their self-titled 2014 debut was one of the year’s most promising, and they’re poised to catch the eyes and ears of a larger audience in 2015.
La Máquina Camaleön
La Máquina Camaleön has one of the most original sounds on the scene. Laced with traces of rock and folk, their melodies play with synths, psychedelic keyboards, and enveloping choruses. Their debut Roja managed to be cohesive while perpetually shifting and surprising. They are chameleons, indeed.
From the land of dreams comes Guayaquil band Morfeo, headed up by Carlos Bohórquez (who also plays in Mamá soy demente). Exploring blues and folk sounds, as well as that oh-so-nebulous catch-all category of “world music,” the music is rife with the symbolism you’d expect from a project whose main inspiration is dreams. Also in the band is Toño Cepeda, former bassist for scene staples Bjorn Borg and Rarefacción.
DJ and producer Nicola Cruz makes fresh, organic electronic music – a sound that, in his words, makes “electronic music sound as if a band were playing it,” and works in the rhythms of the Andes. He has released music on Nico Jaar’s imprint, and more recently has joined the ZZK family as one of their newest artists (with a debut LP set to drop this year).
With only 8 months under their belt as musicians, Lolabúm are already making waves for their signature sound, which they’ve described as “hopeful indie-reggaeton.” The super young kids don’t lack for poetry though – according to them, their band is “like a palm tree fighting with the clouds.”