meta-scriptCRAY Talks Singing Live For The First Time At Lollapalooza & Touring Japan With Skrillex | GRAMMY.com
CRAY at Lolla 2019

CRAY at Lolla 2019

Photo: Daniel Mendoza/Recording Academy

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CRAY Talks Singing Live For The First Time At Lollapalooza & Touring Japan With Skrillex

"I'm transitioning to being a live act, so being able to sing at Lolla for the first time was a really amazing accomplishment," the L.A.-based singer/DJ/producer shared right after her big Lolla moment

GRAMMYs/Aug 6, 2019 - 03:56 am

Gamer-turned-singer/DJ/producer CRAY has an infectious energy both on and off stage. The Croc-loving artist—whose stage moniker is a childhood nickname adapted from her full name, Cheney Ray—started DJing and making electronic music for fun shortly after relocating from Vancouver to Los Angeles for college. In 2016, she put out her catchy first single, "Infinity Signs," and quickly started to make a name for herself in the indie-electro scene.

Fast-forward to 2019: CRAY is playing major festivals across the country, dropping new tracks along the way and even has a Japanese tour with GRAMMY-winning electronic legend Skrillex under her belt. While On The Road at Lollapalooza 2019, the Recording Academy sat down with her right after she debuted new music—while singing live for the first time—during her set.

So, you performed earlier today here at Lolla, how did it feel? How was the vibe?

I mean, it was the first time I ever sang live. So it was very intense and I almost barfed, in a good way. But it was incredible, honestly just being able to do that. We've been working so hard to get there. I'm transitioning to being a live act, so being able to sing at Lolla for the first time was a really amazing accomplishment.

That's awesome. Did you have a lot of nerves going in? And then once you did it, did it feel like a relief?

Yes, I was shaking at first, and then I started and…everything went away. And then after, I was like, "What the hell just happened?" And I almost barfed, it was good.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Thank you <a href="https://twitter.com/lollapalooza?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@lollapalooza</a> for having me. Singing live for the first time truly opened up my entire self. I’m so excited for the future. Thank you guys for being so open and for all ur energy today. Happiest day I’ve had in EVER<a href="https://t.co/8TMSPvEcnq">pic.twitter.com/8TMSPvEcnq</a></p>&mdash; CRAY (@craysounds_) <a href="https://twitter.com/craysounds_/status/1157419282189496321?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">August 2, 2019</a></blockquote><script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

You did it! That's awesome. And you're doing an Aftershow here also tonight; are you looking forward to that?

Yes, I am.

Are you going for more of a nighttime vibe?

Yeah, I'll play a little harder, a little more fun, a little more night time stuff. Because today was more my stuff and my singing and everything. But tonight I'll be a little more afterparty vibes, which I'm excited about. I'm still going to keep the hair in, it hits people, I like it. But I'm excited to play. I love Chicago, I love being here, I love the crowd, I love the people here. I'm excited.

And you've been up to a lot lately. I think last year you went on tour with Skrillex?

I did, yeah.

What was that like?

It was an incredible experience, Sonny [Moore a.k.a. Skrillex] is an incredible human being and so open and honest and I felt so inspired. I've never been to Japan. I've never been that far away, ever. So going there was so eye-opening of the world and different cultures. And their music and food and people and customs, it was beautiful to learn that. I felt really, honestly, blessed to be a part of it, and also so inspired. I came back home and was like, I gotta work harder. I gotta keep going. It was awesome.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">My song idontwannatalkaboutlove comes out in 5 days. I sang it live at lolla and I can’t wait till it’s out and I can share it with you. <br><br>Presave: <a href="https://t.co/Q1LbUh2FMm">https://t.co/Q1LbUh2FMm</a> <a href="https://t.co/Hw1QTFxzrP">pic.twitter.com/Hw1QTFxzrP</a></p>&mdash; CRAY (@craysounds_) <a href="https://twitter.com/craysounds_/status/1158056560192610304?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">August 4, 2019</a></blockquote><script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

Are there any artists you're excited to see at Lollapalooza?

Yeah, I want to see Yaeji. Bring Me The Horizon I want to see as well, and Death Cab for Cutie. I kind of want to go back to old-school stuff, some more band type stuff. Party Favor is playing, he's a good guy. There's a lot of fun stuff happening. I'm really excited.

SHAED Talk Lolla 2019, Touring The World & The Meaning Of "Trampoline"

Machinedrum
Machinedrum

Photo: James King

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Machinedrum's New Album '3FOR82' Taps Into The Spirit Of His Younger Years

For his 15th album, Machinedrum drew inspiration from his early productions and ventured into the Joshua Tree desert. There, he collaborated with Tinashe, Mick Jenkins, Duckwrth and more, alongside his longtime friend and collaborator Jesse Boykins III.

GRAMMYs/May 28, 2024 - 01:20 pm

“If you were able to go back and hang out or collaborate with your younger self, what would you say to them? What advice would you give them?”

That question fueled Machinedrum’s new album, 3FOR82, out May 24. 

Unlike most people, the prominent electronic producer, real name Travis Stewart, has a direct line to his younger self through the music he’s made. He still has hard drives with productions from his teenage years, and on his new album, he sought to create with that same spirit. He wanted to hang with his younger self who was nothing but a kid who loved music with big dreams.

“In that early period where everything is just so free, there's nothing like it,” Stewart said. “I think, as creatives, we all try to find different ways to tap back into that.” 

By tapping back into that freedom, Stewart made 3FOR82 into a diverse and exciting body of work. On his 41st birthday (the album title 3FOR82 reflects Stewart’s birthday of March 4, 1982), he started exploring his older recordings, collaborating with his younger self. The result is an album that is more than the sum of its parts. Weaving a wide palette of genres together, including alternative hip-hop, drum & bass, and UK garage — along with a long list of collaborators — it has an experimental hunger to it as well.

Stewart worked with more vocal collaborators than on any past album, featuring artists including Tinashe, Mick Jenkins, and Topaz Jones on 11 of the 12 tracks. With this stronger external input, each track has a unique identity. While “HON3Y,” the only solo production, harbors Stewart's talent for erratic sonic motion, “KILL_U” with Tanerélle is a minimalist soul tune.

Clearly, when Stewart was just starting he wanted to make anything and everything. He started releasing music as Machinedrum in 2000. Since then, he has shared 15 albums and launched various aliases including Tstewart, his atmospheric side project, J-E-T-S, the club-focused collaboration with the respected house artist, Jimmy Edgar, and Sepalcure, his duo with Praveen Sharma that focuses on dubstep and UK garage.

After so much experience, he knows the music industry very well. The good parts and the bad. 

“Once you've released a few projects, this new pressure comes along with what your fans expect from you,” Stewart said. Conversely, his early recordings offered a window into an era without any pressure or expectations. 

Read on to learn more about where he found the biggest inspiration when he took a trip down musical memory lane during the making of 3FOR82

Impulse Tracker: His First Production Software

Every artist has to start somewhere, and Machinedrum started with Impulse Tracker, the music production software released in 1995. Stewart is now using industry-standard programs like Abelton, but when he was using Impulse Tracker during his early days, his music was imbued with a kind of youthful optimism that only comes when you’re starting something new. 

"For me it was going into these old Impulse Tracker sessions and finding these little nuggets of ideas that I didn't really know what to do with at the time."

When he was working in Impulse Tracker, he only had the skills to make cursory musical ideas, but when he listened back he was really proud of those ideas. “I was just so excited about music. Not to say that I'm not now, but when I listen to electronic music now, I can't help but think about how it was made. Think about what kind of numbers they're doing. Who produced it? What label released it?” Stewart said. “Whereas back then, I would listen to things for the pure sake of listening to them and just be so inspired.”

Finding Freedom In Rules

Stewart often suffers from what he likes to call “choice paralysis.” If there are too many options it can be difficult for him to make a decision. Well, music production presents endless choices. How much reverb to use? Whether or not to use samples? What plugins will make this track sound its best? So, when he was making 3FOR82 he laid down specific parameters to limit his choices.

First, he was only allowed to use sounds that he drew from his Impulse Tracker recordings. He spent a month going through the old pieces of music and created a sound library from them. Those sounds became the album. “That whole process of creating the sound library was incredibly inspiring. Being a digital archaeologist,” Stewart said.

He had two rules if he wanted to sample something outside those old files. One, he had to run the sound through Impulse Tracker so it maintained the same aesthetic. Two, he had to sample music from his birth year of 1982.

“That was one of the parameters that actually made it a lot of fun to explore what music came out the year of my birth and see what things resonated with me. I was finding a lot of interesting synchronicities of stuff that I didn't realize came out in 1982 that I'm actually a huge fan of,” Stewart said. 

The Legacy Of Joshua Tree Continues

Plenty of artists have found musical inspiration in the vast deserts of Joshua Tree National Park. Josh Homme founded The Desert Sessions there back in 1997. RÜFÜS DU SOL recorded their live album, aptly titled Live From Joshua Tree among the desert rocks in 2019. Now Machinedrum has joined the musical legacy of Joshua Tree by making 3FOR82 there as well.

He always had a great time there when he visited with friends and family in the past, but he also found a profound sense of clarity during those trips.

“Ideas come to me. I just feel so separated from the chaos of the world,” Stewart said. “I had always wanted to come to Joshua Tree for the pure reason of doing something creative.”

He set up a mobile studio in an Airbnb and invited myriad guest artists to join him in this temporary creative atmosphere and share in the clarifying experience.

His Dear Friend Jesse Boykins III

Jesse Boykins III is a vocalist who has collaborated with Stewart since the 2000s. He was also a groomsman at Stewart’s wedding. When Stewart was out in Joshua Tree, he spent an hour on the phone with Boykins discussing his idea of revisiting the past to make the album. During that conversation, he realized their long history together could further fuel the creative process.

Stewart made Boykins a co-executive producer, and Boykins brought in numerous vocalists Stewart had never worked with such as Duckwrth and aja monet. Stewart instructed Boykins to find seasoned artists when he was courting collaborators so they could bring their own past into the music. 

He asked each of the collaborators the guiding question at the beginning of each session: “If you were able to go back and hang out or collaborate with your younger self, what would you say to them? What advice would you give them?”

Sometimes Stewart sampled their responses and added them to the music like with Mick Jenkins’ track, “WEARY.” Other times, the question was meant to inspire trust between Stewart and the collaborators Boykins introduced to him.

“Just having him there, understanding the concept behind the album, and making sure that we're all keeping within the theme, whether literally, or in more of an abstract way, that was super important,” Stewart said of Boykins. “I'm super grateful for his involvement on the album and all the inspiration he gave me. Being there along my side throughout the process. It's very cool working like that with someone. I had never done that with an album in the past.”

Healing His Inner Child

When Stewart was producing 3FOR82 from songs he made as a teenager it was just as spiritual for him as it was technical. During those early years as an artist, Stewart felt very isolated. There was no community around the music he loved growing up in North Carolina in the 90s. Even when his preferred sounds migrated from the UK to the US, it was in cities like Miami and New York, far away from him. In his loneliness, he struggled to believe his dream of being a professional electronic musician was possible.

Well, over two decades later, Stewart has accomplished his dream and then some. By working with music from his past, he was assuring his younger self that everything was going to be OK. “This whole process of collaborating with my younger self on these new songs was so healing for me. It was like a way of me sending a message to my younger self. ‘You're gonna do all these amazing things. You're going to travel the world. You're gonna work with amazing artists. So keep your chin up. Don't worry so much about the future.  Just keep going. Keep doing what you're doing,’” Stewart said.

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Perry Farrell of Jane's Addiction on stage at Lollapalooza 2003.
Perry Farrell of Jane's Addiction at Lollapalooza 2003.

Photo: J. Shearer/WireImage/GettyImages

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'Lolla: The Story of Lollapalooza' Recounts How An Alt Rock Fest Laid The Blueprint For Bonnaroo & More

A new three-part documentary on Paramount+ traces the origin of Lollapalooza from its early days as a traveling alt-rock showcase initially conceived as a farewell tour for Jane's Addiction, to the three-day Chicago-based festival that exists today.

GRAMMYs/May 22, 2024 - 09:27 pm

Few music festivals have had the cultural impact of Lollapalooza. 

Conceived in 1991 as a farewell tour for Jane's Addiction by lead singer Perry Farrell, the festival quickly became a traveling showcase for alt-rock and counterculture. Its eclectic lineups, which also included punk, metal, and hip-hop acts, helped define a generation's musical tastes. 

A new, three-episode documentary, "Lolla: The Story of Lollapalooza," takes an in-depth look at the festival's journey over three decades. From its early days of bringing together alt acts including Nine Inch Nails, Living Colour, Pearl Jam, and the Beastie Boys, Lollapalooza has evolved into what it is today: a three-day festival based in Chicago's Grant Park since 2005. The festival remains an enduring celebration of alternative music.

"Lolla" explores how Lollapalooza defied expectations by both embracing and helping shape the emerging youth culture of the '90s — a rebellious, introspective shift from the flashy excess of the '80s. The docuseries highlights the festival's influence through a trove of archival footage and exclusive interviews with Lollapalooza co-founders, show promoters, bookers, MTV hosts. Of course, "Lolla" features a who's who of '90s-era rockers — including Farrell himself, Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine, Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails, Donita Sparks from L7, Ice-T

To watch "Lolla" is to open a time capsule for alternative culture, one where the stage becomes a symbol of generational change. Read on for five takeaways from the documentary, which is now streaming on Paramount+. 

The Reading Festival Served As Inspiration

For their farewell tour, Jane's Addiction decided to emulate the UK Reading Festival's approach to curating live music and alternative acts in a multi-day, open-air forum (where bands like the Buzzcocks and Pixies played to crowds of 40,000). 

Jane's Addiction had been scheduled to play the 1990 Reading Festival, but Farrell partied too much the night before after a club gig and lost his voice, and the band had to cancel. Drummer Stephen Perkins and future Lollapalooza co-founder Marc Geiger decided to check out the event anyway, which planted the seed for the future tour. 

"Reading was a cornucopia of artists, and scenes, and curation, and it was such a vibe," recalled Geiger in an interview scene from the doc. "I remember saying, 'Perry, we have to do it.'"

Farrell was game after missing his chance to see Reading first-hand. So Lollapalooza co-founders Geiger, Don Muller and Ted Gardner, who was also Jane's Addiction band manager, got to work emulating the Reading model. In addition to live music, Farrell wanted something "completely subversive" with booths to engage festival goers with everything from henna tattoos and art galleries, to nonprofit and political organizations like Greenpeace, PETA, the Surfrider Foundation, and even voter registration for the Rock The Vote campaign. The result was art and activism combined with commerce.

Lolla Was Born From The Death Of Jane's Addiction

Although Jane's Addiction had a big buzz with their third album, Ritual de lo Habitual, the band was on the edge of  dissolution. "We really couldn't stand each other," admitted Farrell. Ready for his next act, Farrell saw the opportunity to end on a high note with Jane's Addiction. "The best work we did, we left on the stage at Lolla," he said in the doc. 

In the early '90s, alternative acts were not selling out massive venues. Organizers were on edge, hoping fans would buy tickets and show up to not one, but 28 U.S. tour dates featuring the seven-act lineup for the first-ever Lollapalooza.

What nobody expected was the watershed success. The first show saw fans sweat it out to see their favorite acts in Phoenix, on a day with temperatures well over 100 degrees. Nine Inch Nails' equipment melted in the heat, leading the band to destroy their failing gear before walking off the stage. 

Despite initial hiccups, the tour wasn't hindered. Lollapalooza's first year sold out in a majority of venues holding 15-18,000 people, driven largely by word-of-mouth and favorable coverage by MTV.  

"I think everybody knew and ultimately felt, 'wow, I'm sort of lucky to be here — I'm part of something,'" recalled Geiger in the doc. "It was bigger than anything these artists or fans had seen at that time."

Lollapalooza '92 further mixed genres on the main stage — like gangsta rap (Ice Cube), grunge (Pearl Jam) and shoegaze (Lush) — while greatly expanding the line-up on a side stage upon which Farrell and Perkins introduced their new band Porno For Pyros, alongside many other acts. Lollapalooza's model was born. 

Early Years Embraced Racial Inclusivity, But Lagged Gender-Wise

Right from the start, Lollapalooza organizers mixed up the bill beyond white artists that traditionally headlined rock concerts long before and after Jimi Hendrix performed at Woodstock and Monterey Pop. Part of why Lollapalooza thrived is the inclusion of bands like Ice-T's Body Count, Fishbone, and Living Colour — favorite headliners during the early tours.

Rage Against The Machine guitarist Tom Morello credited Living Colour with helping build "the alternative arc" and opening doors for Rage. "Without Living Colour, Rage Against The Machine doesn't get a record deal. Ever," Morello said. 

A big moment came near the end of the '91 tour when Ice-T and Farrell squared off to cover Sly and the Family Stone's "Don't Call Me ******, Whitey" in which they tersely trade verses, then end up tangoing across the stage. It was a provocative performance that grabbed headlines and the audience's attention months after the high profile police beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles. In '92, Soundgarden showed solidarity with Body Count by performing their controversial track "Cop Killer" with their guitarist Ernie C onstage in Miami. 

While Lolla embraced racial diversity, the early line-ups were male-dominated. Lone female act Siouxsie and the Banshees were a favorite in '91 and later Lollapalooza main stage artists, like Sonic Youth, Babes In Toyland, Lush, and the Breeders — which had more if not all female members — were outnumbered by their male counterparts.

Read more: 6 Female-Fronted Acts Reviving Rock: Wet Leg, Larkin Poe, Gretel Hänlyn & More

Donita Sparks noted that L7 got booked in '94 only after they fired off a bluntly worded fax to the organizers. "We got the offer," Sparks said, "but we had to push the issue. And we had to fight for it. 'Cause that's how much we wanted to be on Lollapalooza, and more importantly, that's how much we felt we deserved to be on Lollapalooza.

Female artists would eventually receive their Lolla dues, with Billie Eilish, Lorde, HAIM, Miley Cyrus and Karol G performing as festival headliners, and artists like Lady Gaga starting out as side stage artists before exploding in popularity and returning to headline the fest a few short years later. 

It Became A Victim Of Its Own Success

Lollapalooza from years '91 to '93 were the purest in terms of alt-rock acts, but as the event drew a wider range of talent and demand, it began to suffer a bit of an identity crisis. After all, it's hard to be a beacon for the underground scene once that culture is above ground.

By Lolla '94, attendance set records and alt-rock had hit the mainstream while grunge peaked and critics bemoaned its growing conventional status. Former second stage booker John Rubeli revealed that Nirvana turned down a $6 million offer to headline the '94 tour because of frontman Kurt Cobain's fear of selling out. Cobain's suicide a few short weeks later changed the scene. 

In '95, the festival returned with more indie bands on the mainstage, but some were eclipsed by bigger artists like Coolio, who drew a bigger crowd to the parking lot side stage. Increased popularity drove commercial sponsorship, and the event became more expensive. Ticket sales dropped. Then in '96, Farrell quit his involvement with the festival for a year in protest over the booking of Metallica, whose aggressive music and audience he felt were out of step with his vision.

"I felt disrespected," Farrell said. "I'm not putting this thing together to make the most money. I'm putting this thing together to make the most joy."

Upon his return in 1997, Farrell's inclusion of electronic acts like the Orbital and the Prodigy were, to some ears, ahead of the curve. The festival then went on a six-year hiatus. 

Lollapalooza returned on shaky legs for its 2003 tour, which included Audioslave, Incubus, the Donnas, and the reunion of Jane's Addiction. But it was truly reborn in 2005 as a three-day event in Chicago through concert promoters C3 Presents (who co-executive produced the "Lolla" doc).  Admittedly, some of the 21st century headliners like Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, Journey, and Paul McCartney would never have fit the '90s festival bill. 

Times have changed and, today, the festival has embraced its conventional success while retaining its original genre-spanning reach with the Killers, Melanie Martinez, Skrillex, and Tyler, the Creator included on this summer's lineup.

Lolla Was A Model For Coachella, Bonnaroo, And Beyond

Prior to the arrival of Lollapalooza, rock festivals were usually single weekend events that took place in a fixed location, like Woodstock in '69, Steve Wozniak's US Festival in '82 and '83, and European festivals like Reading. "I just think it's the first American, truly eclectic concert series since Woodstock," said Ice-T. "And even Woodstock wasn't as eclectic because Woodstock was pretty much all rock."

Lollapalooza's successful tour format inspired other popular tours and live events, especially in the mid-'90s. During the festival's break during the late '90s and early 00's, niche festivals like Ozzfest, Vans Warped Tour, and Lilith Fair stole the show. These festivals not only continued Lollapalooza's legacy by bringing diverse genres to cities across the country, but transformed the live music scene into a cultural phenomenon. 

While epic, genre-spanning weekend festivals like Coachella and Bonnaroo have been raging since the early aughts, Lollapalooza first proved that a seemingly radical idea could grow and thrive. Incorporating a mix of rock, hip-hop, electronic, and alternative acts, inclusivity and mobility became a festival blueprint. Today, Lollapalooza is tapping into international audiences and local music scenes with versions of the festival in Argentina, Berlin, Stockholm, Paris, and even Mumbai. 

Lollapalooza's success proves that the media and music industry often don't realize the size and passion of certain scenes and subcultures until they're brought together in the right setting. By uniting diverse musical acts and their fans, Lollapalooza highlights eclectic talent but also shows just how much people crave that representation and diversity.

Music Festivals 2024 Guide: Lineups & Dates For Lollapalooza, Coachella, Bonnaroo & Much More

DJ Deorro performs  during the Mextour Live Concert at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles in 2023
DJ Deorro performs on stage during the Mextour Live Concert at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on December 14, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Omar Vega/Getty Images)

Photo: Omar Vega/Getty Images

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8 Essential Latin Electronic Releases: Songs And Albums From Bizarrap, Arca & More

Electronic sounds can be heard throughout Latin music and will be recognized in a new Field and Category at the 2024 Latin GRAMMYs. In honor of the new Best Latin Electronic Music Performance award, read on for eight Latin electronic music essentials.

GRAMMYs/May 2, 2024 - 01:22 pm

Electronic music is embedded within the diverse world of Latin music and, for the first time, will be recognized in a new Field and Category at the 2024 Latin GRAMMYs. Within that field, the award for Best Latin Electronic Music Performance was created to shine a light on DJs, producers, and artists blending proudly blending electronic music with the sounds of their cultures.

Electronic music embodies various subgenres like house music, techno, trance, electronica, and many others rooted that have been popularized by DJs and producers. Latin artists have long enriched those subgenres: Mexico's Belanova globalized the electro-pop wave, while Bomba Estéreo blended cumbia with electronica in Colombia. 

The explosion of EDM in the 2010s also allowed the careers of Latinx DJs to flourish. Mexican American DJ Deorro has showcased both cultures during sets at music festivals like EDC, Coachella, Tomorrowland, and more. Arca's music pushes the boundaries of electronic music through a Venezuelan and Latin American lens. More recently, Colombian producer Víctor Cárdenas bridged the gap between EDM and reggaeton with the global hit "Pepas" by Farruko. Since then, electronic music has seeped through the work of Latin hit-makers like Tainy, Caleb Calloway, Bizarrap and Diego Raposo. "Pepas" and many of Bizarrap's music sessions crossed over onto Billboard's Hot Dance/Electronic Songs.

"That’s something that’s very big for us," Deorro tells GRAMMY.com about the new category. "How beautiful that this is happening, because it shows that what we’re doing is working, we’re breaking down doors, and we’re creating more opportunities for artists like us in the future." 

In honor of the Latin Recording Academy's new Field and Category, here are eight must-hear Latin electronic music essentials.

Belanova - Cocktail (2003)

Belanova revolutionized the Latin music space with their 2003 debut album Cocktail, an atmospheric LP that seamlessly blends Latin pop with electronic music. In the dreamy deep house of "Tu Ojos," singer Denisse Guerrero sang about getting lost in her lover's eyes. The trippy techno of "Barco De Papel" was reminiscent of the music from Madonna's Ray of Light album. Electronic music on the ambient level wasn’t common in Latin music until Belenova changed the game in Mexico, which later reverberated into the rest of Latin America and the U.S. 

The trio — which includes guitarist Ricardo Arreol and keyboardist Edgar Huerta — later delved into electro-pop on 2007's Fantasía Pop, which won a Latin GRAMMY for Best Pop Album by a Group or Duo the following year. 

Arca - Kick I-II (2020)

Venezuelan producer/artist Arca is a pioneer in the Latin electronic music space. Arca first began producing her experimental electronica in Spanish with her 2017 self-titled album.

Arca then masterfully mixed the diverse sounds of Latin America and beyond with EDM throughout her Kick album series. 

For Kick I, she combined Venezuelan gaita music and reggaeton with a cyberpunk edge in "KLK" featuring Spanish pop star Rosalía. Arca then blended electronica with neo-perreo on Kick II's "Prada" and "Rakata." Both albums garnered Arca GRAMMY and Latin GRAMMY nominations. 

As a trans and non-binary artist, she is also breaking boundaries for the LGBTQ+ community in the genre. Arca is just not creating more space for queer artists in Latin music, but also in EDM at large by embracing the totality of herself in song.  

Bomba Estéreo - Deja (2021)

Bomba Estéreo, which is comprised of core members Simón Mejía and Liliana "Li" Saumet, has masterfully melded the music of Colombia’s Caribbean coast with electronic music. Since breaking out in 2008 with their sophomore album, the group has often reimagined the African and Indigenous rhythms of their country like cumbia through dance music. Bomba Estéreo’s folkloric approach to EDM has led to collaborations with Bad Bunny, Tainy, and Sofi Tukker.    

In 2021, Bomba Estéreo released its most ambitious album Deja, which garnered a GRAMMY and Latin GRAMMY nominations. The title track put a funky spin on the band's signature electro-tropical sound. House music collided with the Afro-Colombian rhythms of champeta in "Conexión Total" featuring Nigerian singer Yemi Alade. Their album that was based on the four classical elements was a breath of fresh air in the Latin music scene. 

Bizarrap - "BZRP Music Sessions #52" (2022)

Argentine producer Bizarrap launched the BZRP Music Sessions on YouTube in 2018, first remaining behind the console for freestyle rapping sessions with local acts. The sessions quickly went viral, and have featured increasingly larger names in music.

Over the past five years, Bizarrap worked elements of electronic music into his hip-hop productions. In 2022, he fully delved into EDM with his global hit "BZRP Music Sessions #52" featuring Spanish singer Quevedo. The traptronica banger peaked at No. 4 on Billboard's Hot Dance/Electronic Songs and earned Bizarrap his first Latin GRAMMY Award. 

Since then, his music sessions have become a global event. Bizarrap later infused electro-pop with a trap breakdown in "BZRP Music Sessions #53" with Shakira, which garnered him two more Latin GRAMMY awards. 

Javiera Mena - Nocturna (2022)

Javiera Mena first debuted as an indie act in 2006 with Esquemas Juveniles. With that freedom as a producer and artist, the Chilean star pushed Latin music into the electronic space with her 2010 album Mena

She fully immersed herself into Latin electronica on her latest album, 2022's Nocturna — an album filled with nighttime club bangers that invite everyone to dance with her. Mena also proudly sings about being part of the LGBTQ+ community in the alluring "La Isla de Lesbos" and the fierce house music of "Diva" featuring Chico Blanco. Considering the influence of queer artists in the formation of electronic genres like house, it’s refreshing to see an artist like Mena remind people of those roots and bring that into Latin music.  

Deorro - Orro (2022)

Mexican American producer Deorro has established himself as one of the world's top DJs, and is known for mixing both of his cultures into his music festival sets. Even before the música mexicana explosion last year, he was one of the first mainstream EDM acts to bring the genre to music festivals around the world through his songs and remixes.   

With his debut album, 2022's Orro, Deorro fully bridged música mexicana with house music. He collaborated with Latin acts like Mexico's Los Tucanes De Tijuana and Maffio in "Yo Las Pongo," which blended the band's norteño sound with EDM. Deorro also explored cumbia with deep house in the sweeping "Dime" featuring Los Ángeles Azules and Lauri Garcia. In his recent sets, he is spinning a fiery remix of "Ella Baila Sola" by Eslabon Armado and Peso Pluma

Sinego - Alterego (2023)

Sinego first broke through in 2019 thanks to his house bolero sound like in "Verte Triste," which put a refreshing spin on an age-old Cuban genre. With traditional genres within the Latin diaspora often falling to the wayside as the years go on, he is reintroducing them to new audiences through EDM reimaginings.   

For his debut album, 2023's Alterego, the Colombian producer pushed his electronic music to another level. Sinego traveled to different Latin American countries and Spain to record with local musicians, reimagining genres like cumbia, tango, and mambo through Sinego's EDM lens. With the sultry "Mala," he blended Venezuela's variation of calypso with house music. He also gave Brazilian samba a house music makeover in "Boa Noite" featuring Tonina. 

Diego Raposo - Yo No Era Así Pero De Ahora En Adelante Sí (2023)

Dominican producer Diego Raposo has helped Latin acts like Danny Ocean, Blue Rojo, and Letón Pé embrace elements of electronic music. In 2018, Raposo released his debut album Caribe Express, which demonstrated his knack for mixing the sounds of the Caribbean with EDM. 

Raposo took that inventive mix into overdrive with last year's Yo No Era Así Pero De Ahora En Adelante Sí. The otherworldly "Si Supieras" featuring Okeiflou blended house music with reggaeton, while "Al Contrario" with Akrilla aggressively mixes drum 'n 'bass with dembow. Rapaso also channels Dance Dance Revolution-esque electronica in the spellbinding "Quédate" with Kablito. 

7 Latin DJs To Watch In 2023: Gordo, Arca, The Martinez Brothers & More

Mike Piacentini
Mike Piacentini

Photo: Screenshot from video

video

Family Matters: How Mike Piacentini’s Family Fuels His Success As His Biggest Champions

Mastering engineer Mike Piacentini shares how his family supported his career, from switching to a music major in college to accompanying him to the GRAMMY ceremony for his Best Immersive Album nomination.

GRAMMYs/Apr 26, 2024 - 07:17 pm

Since Mike Piacentini’s switch from computer science to audio engineering in college, his family has been his biggest champions. So, when he received his nomination for Best Immersive Album for Madison Beer's pop album Silence Between Songs, at the 2024 GRAMMYs, it was a no-brainer to invite his parents and wife.

“He’s always been into music. He had his own band, so [the shift] wasn’t surprising at all,” Piacentini’s mother says in the newest episode of Family Matters. “He’s very talented. I knew one day he would be here. It’s great to see it actually happen.”

In homage to his parents’ support, Piacentini offered to let his father write a short but simple acceptance in case he won: “Thank you, Mom and Dad,” he jokes.

Alongside his blood relatives, Piacentini also had support from his colleague Sean Brennan. "It's a tremendous honor, especially to be here with [Piacentini]. We work day in and day out in the studio," Brennan explains. "He's someone who's always there."

Press play on the video above to learn more about Mike Piacentini's support system, and remember to check back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of Family Matters.

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