Sonar Festival Brings EDM Insanity From Spain to the States
Courtesy of James Moriarty AZARI & III
On Saturday November 10th, "Sonar On Tour"--Barcelona's international and world-renowned festival of electronic music and new media art-- ends it's eight day circuit at the Shrine Expo Hall in Los Angeles. While the tour had an abrupt cancellation due to the impact of Hurricane Sandy at the New York Roseland Ballroom, the Spanish mega festival creators have been making their way through the East Coast and Canada with stops at the Chicago Congress Theater to the Metropolis in Montreal. Boasting a mix of live acts and DJ sets from Die Antwoord to Nic Fanciulli we decided to talk to the Sonar head of international media Georgia Taglietti and one of the bands on the tour AZARI & III about their coming to America.
"You already have a lot festivals in America so we choose to bring a tour to see how the public reacts and get a feel of how you perceive our brand," shares Taglietti the EA to the directors of the Sonar Festival brand. "What we bring on tour is a microcosm of what we do in Barcelona, which is 100,000 people over a three-day weekend for night and day parties." Established in June 1994 by the same three directors today, Sonar's principles were to blend artistry with entertainment while honoring the avant-garde and experimentation that comes with the possibilities of electronic music and it's culture. Hosting four outdoor stages, "Sonar by Day takes off pure entertainment and the feeling you get from learning about new music, media and art exhibitions," explains Georgia. "Sonar by Night goes into a 25,000 person venue which has a stage set up that supports our live acts as well as our DJ sets."
The Barcelona Sonar Festival lineup included Fatboy Slim, Deadmau5, Hot Chip, Luciano, The Roots, James Murphy, Richie Hawtin, Lana Del Rey, Nicolas Jaar, Laurent Garnier and many more. With expansions in Tokyo to Cape Town it only made sense that this mega festival known for it's cutting edge on electronica would finally make it to the US. "Australia and New Zealand are the only continents we have not been to," she adds. "We are no longer a niche festival like we used to be, but people still trust us for the fact that we have been programing electronic art and music for almost 20 years." Having booked Goldfrapp's first-ever showcase Georgia explains, "50 percent of our acts aren't known by the public and if you ask our attendees why they come to the festival they may say "Oh I came to see Lana Del Rey' then you ask them what they liked best and they will share all the new artists that blew them away."
This is precisely why one of their break out stars AZARI & III are on the North American "Sonar Tour." The Toronto house group recently released their self-titled debut album on Steve Aoki's Dim Mak Records October 30th. With tracks like "Reckless (With Your Love)" and "Manhooker" their sultry 90s house vibes with velvety vocals are a breath of fresh air from all of the untz untz untz playing in mainstream EDM. "Dim Mak has been trying to explore new sounds with their label and I think they reached out to us because a lot of them are already friends of ours," says Dinamo Azari as one band mate describes him a "strapping young bloke who's one fourth of the dynamic group." The duo musicians/producers Zari and Alixander III with vocalists Fritz Helder and Starving Yet create a sound full of flavor and house soul while incorporating electronic synthesizers and textures that make it new age.
"Toronto has a more honest choir sound in a way with less bells and whistles like the sound of a Spokane Chief," says Fritz as the four can't stay on the phone for more than a minute without cracking a joke or being controversial. "We don't try to be controversial! We actually try to be on our best behavior," adds Alixander. "We barely trashed the green room at Sonar Festival in Spain this summer. I'm sure they thought it was noble of us so they asked us to join the tour - with penises being drawn on the green room doors and all," laughs Yet. Known for their unbelievable live shows, AZARI & III have performed at numerous prestigious festivals such as Glastonbury, Sonar and Lovebox. "Get ready to be hurt sooo good. In a really nice way with sex, drugs and robots," exclaims the group as they shout over one another. The tour which makes it's final stop at the Shrine Expo Hall on Saturday also has the infamous Seth Troxler and Paul Kalkbrenner for those serious house heads looking for something with a more underground sound in a grownup showcase.