Early August, a flock of young latinos flew to Manhattan, New York, to take part in one of the most respected conferences devoted to analyze the presence of our culture in the american musical market. Under the baton of Thomas Cookman, this event explores the actual situation of the industry in two ways: part discussion and part action (meaning: bands playing live!).

The night the event started we were supposed to hear some new bands in a small place, but we got there a little late and there was no chance to get inside. Lesson taken. The event attracts a lot of interest from locals, making a must to come early in order to enjoy the shows. Altough it wasn’t possible to enter, a lot of interesting people (musicians and promoters) were left outside, what led to introductions with some of the other attendants.

Next day, the early sessions explained ways to promote bands and upcoming trends in latin music (as reggueton, wich is a mix of hip hop and latin beats). Later, once again music took the stage. Beginning early with a showcase of independent bands and later, at night, three different events happened: Los Amigos Invisibles, Venezuela’s funkiest export, had an amazing show where they played their hits and showed some of the new work (including latin renditions of Depeche Mode and KISS songs!). Their next record has been produced by Dimitri from Paris, so it’s already being anxiously expected by their fans. In other part of Manhattan, there was an unplugged session that had interesting moments when Circo, a band from Puerto Rico, jumped to the stage; their singer makes you remember Freddy Mercury… with a twist. Then, Natalia y la Forquetina, from Mexico, showed a couple of new songs; she is one of the youngest and most energetic voices in the continent. Later, Atercipelados, from Colombia, and Plastilina Mosh, from Mexico, closed the event.

Friday morning arrived with some other sessions on new spaces for latin music, the digital arena and the challenges it creates for musicians and one last session on radio and it’s real power this days. This panels happen with a small crowd attending, mostly newcomers to the conference. Later we went to Brooklyn to hear the super powerful Kinky raising temperature on an already hot and humid summer night. This band mix electronic beats with mexican music from the north, and is really worth seeing live.

Closing on Saturday, there was a panel on the situation of women in the industry. Andrea Echeverri, lead singer of Aterciopelados made some interesting remarks on how badly women are portrayed in musical videos and advertising these days, and the problems it carries all over the continent. In her opinion, latinas are worse now than 15 years ago, because now they need to pretend to be meaner, sexier or just bitchier to make an impression and be respected.

This is an event that lets american people open their eyes and ears to latin music. Broad in range and styles, well organized in venues and options, there is a lot to discover. The only comment would be on the panels, since they are only sessions to discuss, with no multimedia support. It would be great to have slides, sound or video in these, to let people that don’t know well the culture or the actual trends in the industry have a proper understanding of the issues raised.

Latin Alternative Music Conference
Yearly event held in New York or Los Angeles

Text and Photos: Xpectro

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