Although we’re still far from the normality we craved in 2020, music will never stop and neither will our passion for discovering new bands and artists who can help make our lives a little easier this year. To help us find what’s next in music, we asked a few friends at some of our favorite music outlets from the Americas and Spain to share their predictions on which emerging local acts they believe are going to blow up in 2021.
With recommendations from the likes of KEXP, Radio Gladys Palmera, Revista Marvin, Discolai, and many more, these music experts introduce us to 18 bands and artists that are bubbling up in their respective local underground. Ranging from Ecuadorian experimental pop to Dominican hip hop to Argentine punk to Boricua Afro-fusion to Costa Rican indie rock, we are certain you’ll find new favorites to fill your earbuds with goodness in the following months. Here are their picks:
At the juncture of Rompan Todo (Break It All), in which rock in Latin America has been reevaluated, and at a crucial moment for women’s empowerment, what’s better than a quartet of women with a lot of personality of their own? Carolina (guitar and vocals), Ana Sofía (bass and vocals), Cyneli (keyboards and vocals) and Nathalia (drums and vocals) produce fresh, direct and psychedelic rock with vocal games coming all the way from Guadalajara, Mexico. So far, they’ve opened a few concerts for Café Tacvba and their undeniable selling point is their debut album, Mar Rojo. They also recently released the single “Ikite Iru,” which you can listen to on Bandcamp.
By Gris Onofre, Journalist
Multidisciplinary artist Fernanda Bertero was already making waves among Ecuadorian audiences with her project Fiebre when Petróleo stepped into 2021 with a disrupting perspective for the local music landscape. Her debut album introduces a search of humanity and emotion through liquid screens and correlations to virtuality, journeying from toxic love into self love and the postmodern relationships we can have with technology as a society. A concept contrasted with the soothing harmony of a Spanglish voice-led sound where R&B, synthesizers and dembow coexist in an ethereal sound space.
As we’re submerging into Petróleo, there’s already excitement for what Fiebre will show us of her bionic universe, making her one of Ecuador’s promising new artists of this decade.
Sen Senra (Spain)
After several initial albums with a more garage kind-of vibe, Sensaciones, released a little over a year ago, turned Sen Senra into a great little hybrid phenomenon with one foot in new pop and the other in the conquest of the alternative scene; it also turned them into a possible mainstream icon. With an overwhelming personality, a conception of his unprecedented performance in the scene and increasingly renowned collaborations (he signed a hit with Feid, and there are songs with C. Tangana coming along), the Galician artist is called to be the ambassador of new Spanish pop in 2021, a year that should see him filling pavilions in several Latin American countries.
Dafne Castañeda (Peru)
Dafne Castañeda always demonstrates her desire to experiment and dare to go beyond, her sound is a mix between semi industrial electronica, as well as some pop and electronic folk, which puts her in a refreshing category for those of us who have been following what is being produced in Lima for some time now. In addition, her melodies are accompanied by charming lyrics that demonstrate the extent to which her incomparable talent is capable of reaching.
Inka (Dominican Republic)
By Max “Drlacxos” Cueto, Co-Founder at Discolai.com
Inka is a young singer-songwriter who leans his style towards rap. Mixing his urban style with the Dominican culture, in his sound or in his lyrics. Since his debut on the scene, the artist has injected different colors into the local scene, in his first song “El Caimito” Inka uses the sound of “la clave” and the “güira” like his best beat. In songs like “Snooze” and “La Arlama” he talks about the life of the Dominicans day after day. Earlier this year he released “Justicia” where he questions Dominican Independence and talks about, pro-black empowerment, a better education system, LGBTQ+ rights, etc. For 2021 he is working on his first full-length album, a mix between his style with the Afro-Dominican rhythms of Villa Mella.
By Rubén Scaramuzzino, Editor in Chief at Zona de Obras
Çantamarta radiates freshness, flavor, flow and attitude with their well-rounded songs.It’s fair to say the group will get to share their proposals to a wider audience in 2021. The trio is made up of Colombian-Venezuelan singer LuisLo and two Andalusians, Omar and Benito, who came together in 2019. The group merges and mixes different musical genres (R&B, neo-soul, hip hop, house) with the influences of cultural and musical elements from the Caribbean—a fusion that comes to life in the stories and slang that give shape to each of their songs. In 2019 they released “Fermina, their debut song, a trap-soul inspired by the novel El Amor En Los Tiempos Del Cólera, by Gabriel García Márquez. Later came “Voy a mil” and “88,” songs that reflect their own vision of what an alternative reggaeton can sound like. A year later came “Lluvia,” “LA Menor,” and “Canelita y ron amargo”—three great songs that become addictive from the first listen.
Çantamarta’s vibe is different in the sense that what they offer is not abundant in proposals that fuse Latin rhythms with contemporary sounds.
Letón Pé (Dominican Republic)
Christian Álvarez & Gaby San, Hosts at Radio Bizarro
We consider Letón among the top up-and-coming, multifaceted artists on the rise. She has standout vocals, her melodies are well-crafted and infectious, and her personality ignites joy and happiness everywhere she goes.
In addition to her music career, Letón is making strides as an actress and will soon debut her latest project in the starring role in the IGTV miniseries Relaciones Tóxicas. Directed by Dulcita Lieggi, the series reportedly “explores relationships and how sometimes, the people closer to you can be the most toxic.” Her latest single, produced by Piek, dropped alongside a music video this March. There will be an upcoming EP as well; not much info is out, other than the fact that it will be reportedly “a chant to the energy of live music and the purely physical relationships.”
You can check out Radio Bizarro’s interview with Letón Pé in November 2020, where she presents her single “Perder el Control.”
Juicy Bae (Spain)
Ever since she released her first track on YouTube just three years ago, Andalusian artist Juicy Bae is an example of constant evolution. Juicy flows and dances vocally over the beat; her mumble lyrics are practically unidentifiable yet catchy like none other. The 23-year-old has talent, nerve, cockiness and undoubtedly knows how to choose the instrumentals which she decides to ride. This Sevillian singer keeps climbing step upon step, and it looks like this year could be her year.
Blanco Teta (Argentina)
Within the broad spectrum of South American experimental music, Blanco Teta has been consistently providing a good injection of noise, twisted jazz and punk. The group is a project between Argentine artist Carola Zelaschi and Colombian artist Carlos Quebrada. They started as a quartet but, in 2021, became baptized as a power trio. They plan to release their third album, Rompe Paga, an album of collaborations with artists from Argentina’s porteño scene.
Mabe Fratti (Guatemala)
By Alejandro González Castillo, Editor of Revista Marvin
Fratti seeks shades of light, where trivial things such as space and time don’t matter. His music is made to exist (as simple as that), and to persist with the idea that beauty always manages to come out afloat (as complicated as that).
Mojo Myst (Ecuador)
By Juan Sebastián Jaramillo, Director of Radio COCOA
Mojo Myst, Felipe Maldonado’s solo project, is one that, without a doubt, we have to pay attention to in 2021. The content of his recently-released album Midnight Lab, is dynamic and sensory immersive. Mojo Myst doesn’t belong to a specific genre, instead he moves between hip-hop, trap, R&B and psychedelic pop. The most attractive thing about Maldonado is his introspective lyrics, accompanied by melodies and high-pitched tones to which he can elevate his voice, whether he sings in English or Spanish—something he’s shown us in his other projects/bands: The Puppet Factory and In The Universe.
By Rodrigo Piedra, Editorial Director at Indie Hoy
At age 20, Dillom is one of the most promising stars in the Argentinean trap scene. As a member of the collective Rip Gang, he released “Sauce,” a track where he explores rhythms like funk and house. After a couple of singles published last year and a string of collaborations—including an international one with Pussy Riot-—Dillom is readying his first LP, which is intended to be published in the middle of 2021, per an interview with Indie Hoy. “Sauce” is the first step of what looks like a brilliant year for Dillom.
By Marisol García, Journalist
Foex has been the producer of important Chilean albums (including some by Ana Tijoux and Cómo Asesinar A Felipe) and an unstoppable promoter of independent projects (through the Potoco Discos label), but the musician is increasingly asserting himself as a composer and performer. In 2020 he released two albums, solo and in collaboration, and the release of the single”Asesinos” identifies him as a voice of great character right where hip-hop, electronic and political music converge. As attentive to the social ups and downs in Chile as to international musical trends, Foex manages to refresh the Afro-Latin American sound through new digital channels.
Oferenda - "Alumbramiento" (Puerto Rico)
By Alfredo Richner, Editor at PuertoRicoIndie.com
Oferenda are an Afro-fusion group from Santurce, Puerto Rico, who’ve just put out their first single. The largely instrumental “Alumbramiento” is a mesmerizing mix of electronics and traditional Latin American rhythms, both soothing and propulsive (its strikingly beautiful music video is also worth checking out). After a year of actively seeking out instrumental music (think ambient and spiritual jazz) to help cope with the stresses of pandemic life, Oferenda really caught my attention. The five-piece recorded “Alumbramiento” with Mario Negrón at Casa Fantasmes, is its own “seal of approval” if you are familiar with the local scene, with more tracks to follow (hopefully) soon.
La Muchacha (Colombia)
As time passes and the uncertainty comes and goes during the pandemic, it’s normal to ask ourselves questions like “what will happen after this? What will life be like when this is over? How will we remember it and how will we tell it to those who come after us?” and more. In Colombia, as in much of Latin America, the social crisis, frustration and collective outrage have remained part of the landscape; that is where Isabel Ramírez, better known as La Muchacha, has been positioning herself as a songwriter. Her work manages to condense the reality of her country outside the big capital cities. Two to three-minute long songs depict faithful portraits of a life crossed by many types of injustices while also inviting us to assume social causes with a visceral voice that sounds like a beacon of hope. This year, La Muchacha released Mas Canciones Crudas, a high leap towards consolidating herself as the great singer-songwriter of this generation, an urgent voice that feels like the next Violeta Parra or Mercedes Sosa.
Princesa Alba (Chile)
Bárbara Carvacho, Editor at POTQ
With glitter, hits, passion for soccer, incredible videos and body reconciliation, Princesa Alba has managed to captivate us with a pop fusion that is ideal to freshen up the sounds of the south of the world. Raised among the pop divas of the 2000s, this Chilean burst onto the scene in 2018 with an impeccable mixtape titled Del Cielo.
A string of loose singles like “Convéncete,” “Hacerte Mal,” and “’Ya No Quieres Quererme” were just a little taste of what she’s bringing to the table. With millennial wit and a digital reinvention of “do it yourself,” Princesa Alba has managed to dazzle even from her room, decorated with her own handicrafts, posting covers on her Instagram and giving us a tour of what will be the first full-length album, one that will come after the experience of trial and error in the world of sound, a personal search that has led to an explosive career that already includes collaborations with Gepe, the Argentinean Louta and the Spanish Alizzz.
All the nostalgia and melancholy of Chilean music intersects with this modern, pink and powerful turn of history. 2021 is the year in which we hope that Princesa Alba will succeed in airing the dynasty of Chilean pop.
YENDRY (Dominican Republic)
By Natalia Merced, Editor at Noise Colectivo
The Dominican-Italian artist has been developing her art and finding her sound for years. Since her debut with ‘Barrio’, she has shown us that she has the ear and pencil to create music that moves those who listen to it. With her recent trip to her native country, we hope to see more tracks like “Se Acabó” ft. Mozart La Para in which the singer embraces urban Caribbean rhythms and adds her own twist. We have no doubt that Yendry has several surprises in store to smash the music of the new year.
Adiós Cometa (Costa Rica)
Starting with a drum roll accompanied by a repetitive bass line, diverse guitar riffs, and distortion, Adiós Cometa is definitely a band that’s worth giving a precious listen to. Who knows? You may fall in love with them or they may fall in love with you. However it turns out, you’ll know that there’s definitely something special about this band. Their songs are anguished and longing, but not in the hot pursuit for privileged platforms but rather with the purpose of marrying the pleasantness of pop structure with the noise and aesthetics of shoegaze. Nothing is particularly catchy here, yet everything resonates.