10 Acts To Catch At Sónar 2022
Jun 9, 2022
Ana Monroy Yglesias
5 min read
The effortlessly cool kids of Barcelona and surrounding Catalan cities have been raving into the future at Barcelona's innovative Sónar fest since 1994. It is finally my turn to check out the cutting-edge electronic music and technology rave at its upcoming 27th edition, taking place at the Fira de Barcelona historic fairgrounds June 16 - 18. Sónar is known for booking artists pushing dance music's boundaries and presenting their shows in exciting ways with stunning visuals and unexpected collabs. Here are ten sets I'm stoked to catch, although I'm equally excited for the magic I discover.
Fun-loving French DJ/producer and visual artist Agoria makes dance floor heaters generally categorized as house, sometimes techno, but he gleefully and intentionally pushes boundaries in his art. His sets are playful and filled with surprises—during his post-Coachella 2019 Monday set at Sound in Los Angeles, he played Donna Summer so he could dance under the disco ball with the crowd. Drift is not only the name of his stellar 2019 album and Ibiza residency. It's a lifestyle. It's all in the flow of captivating his audience and taking them on a wild ride.
Anfisa Letyago makes deeply interesting left-field techno that has been championed by Carl Cox, Charlotte de Witte, and more. The swiftly rising Siberian-born, Naples-based artist has been on a touring tear this year, bringing her moody, captivating and unique warehouse sound to EDC Las Vegas, Skyline Festival, Cercle Festival, Movement, and more.
ANNA & MAOTIK A/V show
Brazilian techno queen ANNA serves up the perfectly moody mix of hard, pulsing techno with an undercurrent of melody and groove, as she knows we're all "Forever Ravers." At Sónar, she'll be collaborating with French digital visual artist MAOTIK, who will provide immersive visuals to complement what is sure to be a kinetic sunrise set.
The first time my friends and I saw Avalon Emerson play at the 2017 edition of the intimate Bay Area festival Sunset Campout, we fell in love and dubbed her the techno librarian. From behind wire-rimmed glasses, the Berlin-based, Arizona-born DJ/producer stirs up an enchanting mix of techno, house, and strange rave sounds that always get the dance floor sweating.
The Chemical Brothers
Iconic Manchester duo The Chemical Brothers, consisting of Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons, have been at the forefront of bringing dance music to the masses—and always keeping it interesting and innovative—since they released their sophomore album, Dig Your Own Hole, in 1997. They're beloved for the eye-catching visuals they bring into their live show, enhancing the immersiveness of their electrifyingly cinematic sound.
Eris Drew B2B Octo Octa
Eris Drew and Octo Octa are one of the reigning power couples of dance music, period. Witnessing them combine their talent, good vibes, and love of funky, feel-good house on stage in the sacred art form known as the B2B is pure joy and a surefire way to get your body grooving.
Vinyl-slinging Canadian house and disco queen Jayda G is a marine scientist and a purveyor of deeply joyful vibes. I'm confident that when in the presence of Jayda behind the decks, it's scientifically impossible not to feel happy and move your body. If you need confirmation of this, check out her 2017 Boiler Room set. I dare you not to groove.
Niño de Elche with Ylia & Banda La Valenciana
Niño de Elche is a Spanish flamenco singer born in Elche, a city in Valencia from which he took his artist name. He takes the traditional, hypnotic musical form and blends it with electronics, hip-hop, and beyond. You can hear his haunting voice in his collab with Agoria, "What If Earth Would Turn Faster." A regular at Sónar, this year he'll be performing with Spanish producer Ylia and the 80(!)-piece Banda La Valenciana to, as Sónar describes it, "create chaos on both stage and dance floor: a unique reinterpretation of the music of popular festivals, drawing on flamenco as well as the sound of '80s and '90s Valencia: hardcore mákina and proto-techno bakala."
Sónar is not strictly electronic music, and Argentina-born, Spain-based Ms Nina will be representing neoperreo, the sex-positive feminist interpretation of reggaetón, to the fest this year. She made waves with her 2019 debut mixtape, Perreando por Fuera, Llorando por Dentro, (or "grinding on the outside, crying on the inside"), a mood that feels ever more relevant in the strange not-post-COVID-but-we're-partying-again days we're leaving in.
New Jersey club queen, UNIIQU3 raps, sings, produces, and DJs, and looks damn good while doing it—what else could you want? She serves up a unique (duh!), confident, sexy, and buoyant brand of dance music that nods to classic R&B and hip-hop and pumps up the BPM. She'll bring her A-game to Sónar with a live set that will pull out all the stops to get your booty bouncing.