The fast-growing exodus from Venezuela to the rest of the world is the clearest symptom of the depth of its current economic, social, political, and humanitarian crisis. With many of the South American country’s artists having fled to new places in order to find the opportunities they’ve been denied at home, the Venezuelan talent drain is a painful reality. But, as history has shown us, there’s always resourceful people looking to turn a struggle into a chance to create art.
Enter Sisah, a brand new collective comprised of Venezuelan artists, most of them living outside the country. The crew aims to redefine the collective identity of the country’s post-diaspora music scene – specifically the electronic one – through collaboration.
Guadalajara transplant Alberto Stangarone, of Sunsplash and Todosantos fame, served as Sisah’s curator and producer for UNO, the collective’s debut full-length, which is premiering today on Remezcla. He started Sisah as a “creative club” where fellow Venezuelans can work together no matter where they are. “Nowadays, it’s impossible to talk about the Venezuelan scene without considering the amount of talent spread across the world, and this project is a reflection of that,” he explains.
Alongside a long list of graphic designers and visual artists, musicians like Ferraz, Santa Bandida, VFRO, Pocz, and even former Los Amigos Invisibles member DJ Afro gave life to UNO’s 10 tracks and Sisah’s identity. But don’t expect traditional Venezuelan sounds in these songs – from the get-go, these artists were set on experimentation and creating futuristic pop songs. “Our political statement isn’t in our lyrics or sounds; it’s in the project’s mere existence. We stand united even though they want to bring us apart,” says Stangarone.
Album opener “Vida” finds Uruguay-based Alissa Maria on lead vocals, nu-disco and soul influences colliding. On the bilingual “Prisma,” Sexilia (also living in Guadalajara) lets her voice loose over a beat that reimagines UK garage and R&B. Instrumental cuts like the Simón Díaz-sampling “Aire” and “Espina” showcase the collective’s take on downtempo and house, and “Gerla”’s quiet star is Madrid resident Jhoabeat, who uses his beatboxing skills to give the song wings.
Together with the music, the crew developed a strong visual universe for the project, drawing on everything from physical paintings to internet art. It’s an effort that turns Sisah into a multidimensional experience, one that subtly hints at Venezuelan contemporary art without falling into clichés or nationalistic ideals. “Sisah’s image had to be organic and fluid, because it explores many genres and references, and it’s always changing, because there are many heads involved in the project,” said visual artist Pheesix, who lives in Santiago de Chile and also contributed as a producer.
Nomadic singer-rapper Santa Bandida calls Sisah an interesting X-ray of the sound of the Venezuelan diaspora. “Projects like this one serve as a bridge to connect us and help us channel our creative energy, which often seems stuck in the middle of all this chaos,” she shares. “We couldn’t continue living in our country, let alone creating,” says Alissa Maria. “We were practically forced to leave our country. This project gives me hope, knowing that we still have a lot to do in spite of being expats. Not sharing a physical space isn’t a limitation for us to keep creating and expressing ourselves.”
With a second album, more collaborations, and a live version of the collective on the horizon, Sisah is just taking off. As Stangarone puts it, “Sisah looks to turn distance into unity. Our story is one of adaptation and resilience.”
Sisah’s Uno compilation drops officially on May 4. Stream it above.