8 SXSW Artists to Boost Your Playlist
Here's some top música that'll keep you moving beyond SXSW.
From the bomba grooves of Puerto Rico to Tejano music shaped by a new generation of rising artists, South by Southwest 2023 brought a celebration of more than 80 Latino artists from around the world.
Through the música, cultura shines. We understand each other’s struggles and triumphs, and through the movement of dancing we begin healing together. As Guatemalan singer and SXSW performer Sara Curruchich says, “El movimiento es libertad.”
We’re sharing some of the bands who made a splash at the festival and whose music we believe you’ll enjoy adding to your playlist. Of course, this isn’t a complete list, but a sampling of the talent in our comunidad.
It’s always our hope that by shining a brighter light on cultura that it encourages more festivals and festival goers to support diverse artists and inclusive lineups.
Son Rompe Pera
Mexican marimba meets cumbia punk y más. Led by three brothers who grew up in a music-playing family outside Mexico City, Son Rompe Pera ers infuses folk music with a modern sound that you won’t hear elsewhere. Get ready for a sweaty dance party, dripping with authenticity and cultural pride.
It’s the marimba music you never knew you needed.
The group created a truly SXSW moment when they joined Monterrey-based band Jhoniván y su Cumbia Loop to close out a showcase celebrating the 15th anniversary of the noted Latin music record label, ZZK Records.
Jhoniván y su Cumbia Loop
Nothing hit home more than the SXSW shows by this accordion virtuoso and cumbia party instigator. Jhoniván Saenz, once a contestant on a Mexican music competition reality show and now among the most recognized talents on the squeezebox, creates musical magic on both the stage and the dancefloor.
The power behind the cumbia beats quickly sparked fest goers to launch a cumbia dance circle at the downtown Austin venue Speakeasy. It spoke volumes about what representation sounds and feels like and the genuine connection that can happen when audiences feel in community.
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(San Juan Comalapa, Guatemala)
As the first indigenous Guatemalan singer and songwriter to sing in her mother tongue of Kaqchikel for international audiences, Sara Curruchich carries great cultural responsibility with both grace and fierceness.
Best of all, she does it while rocking music that fuses folk and traditional Mayan Kaqchikel with rock beats. Her powerful lyrics about mujeres indígenas, anti-female violence and more fire up crowds and by the end of her show you find yourself singing some Kaqchikel as well.
Diamante Perez, who made his SXSW debut in 2021 by headlining the first official Regional Mexican showcase of the festival, returned to SXSW this year. The 24-year old artist from Kansas, performed as part of a showcase billed as “The Biggest Night in Música Mexicana.”
Perez animated The Belmont show crowd by asking for gritos and played his songs “Dime,” and “1942” during his set. His self-titled album “Soy Un Diamante” drops in May.
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Powerhouse Afro-Cuban band Okan provide an adrenaline shot of joy at their concerts. During a performance at the Victorian Room at The Driskill Hotel, the award-winning band made themes like immigration, courage and love resonate with each vibrant beat.
Fill your cup with their musical recipe of roots music + jazz + global grooves and their secret sauce of infectious energy. Do yourself a favor and put Okan on repeat.
They remind us, like in their song lyrics, that “la vida es hermosa.”
(San Juan, Puerto Rico)
Ileana Cabra or iLe, as she’s known on stage, reimagines some of the island’s musical traditions for a new generation of listeners. Her soulful spirit makes every lyric both poetic and packed with punches.
The South by Southwest veteran performed at Austin City Limits Live at the Moody Theater during a showcase presented by Rolling Stone called “The Future of Music.”
The Grammy award-winning artist and former backing vocalist of the alternative rap duo Calle 13 recently released a music video for the feminist anthem “Algo Bonito” featuring another Puerto Rican powerhouse Ivy Queen.
At ACL Live, iLe reminded the crowd why she’s breaking down barriers with every beat.
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Long live Tejano music at SXSW and beyond!
The musical genre, mostly absent from the festival’s official showcases in recent years, got a bright spot this year with the inclusion of Latin Grammy-nominated artist Destiny Navaira.
Navaira - featured in a showcase presented by the Latin Music Coalition Austin and EQ Austin - connected with the crowd through her original music as well as songs that paid tribute to her family as well as the late famed Tejano musician Fito Olivares, who died Friday.
Destiny Navaira, part of a Tejano music dynasty as the niece of legendary Tejano artist Emilio Navaira and daughter of singer-songwriter Raulito Navaira, has been blazing her own trails and introducing the música to new audiences. Keep your eyes on her. We can’t wait to see what she does next.
Eslabon Armado, the California-based regional Mexican group making waves on the music charts, draws on their cultural roots for their musical inspiration.
Their SXSW debut at The Belmont included popular songs “Jugaste y Sufri” and “Con Tus Besos.” Eslabon Armado, currently nominated for the Latin American Music Awards under various categories, also gave the audience a sneak peek of their single “Ella Baila Sola,” which released shortly after the show.
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We’re also keeping our eyes on SXSW artists such as Latin folk singer Selines, Austin’s own Leonilo Jaimes who at 18 made his SXSW debut, energetic trap-indie-rock artist Shrt_Lyf, powerhouse songstress Irene Diaz, mariachi-inspired outfit Vanessa Cherry and Mariachi Martini, pioneer of the queer movement within the urban genre in Puerto Rico Villano Antillano y más.
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