The MyCityByNight Road to Sónar

Sonar festival Barcelona

Whilst South Africa is descending into an icy winter, the Northern Hemisphere is preparing for its time under the summer sun. In Spain’s cosmopolitan and eclectic city of Barcelona, the sun is setting later and the nights are becoming long and hot, reverberating with the sounds of Catalan laughter, clinking glasses and the rich odour of coffee. And this enviable new ambience is heralding an annual pilgrimage. Music lovers from around the world are slowly gravitating toward the mecca of explorative electronic music and artistic expression: Sónar Barcelona.

Sónar is a three day festival, founded in 1994 by local electronica aficionados: Ricard Robles, Enric Palau, and Sergi Caballero. The festival is divided into two parts: Sónar by Day and Sónar by Night. An additional component to the festival, Sónar +D, is a congress with a focus on creativity, business and technology. This entails exhibitions, demonstrations of innovative musical equipment, installations and workshop-discussions hosted by prominent industry members. Some of the highlights of this year’s illustrious program include talks by Bjork (the), composer Mckenzie Stubbart and Google researcher Adam Roberts. In the words of Richie Hawtin, Sonar generally and the +D program specifically is adept at “..filling the gaps between creativity, technology and connecting people.”

Sonar Barcelona – music, creativity and technology

Since it’s inception, Sónar has blossomed into a highly formidable cultural happening, attracting in excess of 115 00 people from over 100 countries (in 2016); and contributing as much as 52 million Euros to Catalonia’s GDP in 2007. Over 100 acts have been included on the 2017 lineup and one of the most exciting features of this program is its diversity –  something that has been established as a characteristic feature of Sonar over the years.

As such, this year’s lineup  spans an eclectic variety of genres, setting the scene for musical exploration and cross-pollination of styles, ideas and aesthetics. Some of the bigger names include Justice, Moderat, Soulwax, Amnesia Scanner, Eric Prydz, Nicholas Jaar, De La Soul and Little Dragon. But this truly only scratches the surface. Arguably, one of the most exciting aspects of this cultural adventure is the fact that together, my readers and I will be exposed to creative talents that one would miss entirely in the more restrictive setting of genre-specific music festivals, which fail to embrace creativity and eclecticism as uniquely and effectively as Sónar does.

Barcelona Street 2

A brief introduction to your guide

My name is Daniel and I thought that I’d take this opportunity to introduce myself. Please accept my apologies in advance, for such shameless self-promotion. However, for those readers who are interested in following MCBN’s coverage of Sónar Barcelona 2017, I thought that it would be fair to my readers to offer an opportunity to understand more about the lense through which they will be perceiving Sónar. That is, for those who have not been fortunate enough to make the pilgrimage themselves.

I live in Cape Town where I am following my passion, working as a Clinical Psychologist. I enjoy techno just as much as the next Bree Street hipster; but I am more generally passionate about the intersection between culture, art and musical exploration. I come alive when music makes me feel uncomfortable, surprised and awakened.

As I type, I am in a Barcelona cafe, inhaling a Cortado and awaiting the magical socio-cultural transformation that this city is about to experience. Watch this space for an ongoing coverage of Sónar and the time leading up to it: expect interviews, reviews and reflections on the impending musico-cultural extravaganza, viewed through a psychological lense.


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Barcelona – city of Gaudi

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