This Bandcamp-Exclusive Compilation Is Benefiting El Salvador’s Vibrant Indie Underground

Lead Photo: Photo courtesy of the artist
Photo courtesy of the artist
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Los Angeles-based label Normandie Records unveiled a new compilation on Friday, featuring 13 artists from across El Salvador’s wildly diverse musical underground. The compilation titled Somos Arte provides an excellent glimpse into the indie sounds brewing in El Salvador, including nods to the national trap scene with tracks from Drovekidd, Spuk and Mario Bora, the woozy cabaret rock of Camelo and Clément, and a smattering of enchanting singer-songwriters in Carol Hills and Nadine Masri. While accessible sounds abound, the compilation packs delightful surprises at every turn, like Gabriela Triste’s viral bubblegum trap anthem “Frutsi,” Ricardo Bendek’s effervescent psych pop ditty “Sésamo” and Cartas a Felice’s excellent industrial cumbia, “El Zope.”

“Through the COVID 19 stay at home order, which is more strict in El Salvador than in the USA, artists are seeing a lot of their opportunities fade away,” says Ricardo Santos Arbizu of Salvadoran production and media collective KUI. “Salvadoran artists are being forced to reevaluate their strategy and approach because even in a virtual landscape, El Salvador is a very small market. As artists try to figure out what their next move is, and how to monetize their work in a digital world, they continue to educate themselves and think outside the box to keep moving forward.”

Somos Arte was released as a Bandcamp exclusive coinciding with the platform’s initiative to forfeit sales revenue the first Friday of every month through the summer, aiming to benefit artists affected by the economic fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic. The compilation comes ahead of a new documentary titled ‘Somos Arte: The Creative Movement of El Salvador’, produced by Normandie Records and KUI, which aims to connect homegrown talent with the millions of Salvadorans living in the diaspora.