South-by-South West is kicking off its annual media event featuring some of the most talked about artists currently in the spotlight (in both music and films) – including rappers Kendrick Lamar and Trinidad James.
Even established networks like MTV are taking the opportunity to launch new programming at SXSW, which kicks off in Austin, Texas on Friday.
But Latino artists, particularly Uruguayans, are also set to make a big splash at this year’s music and film festival. Not one or two but seven Uruguayan artists and bands will be performing in the “Sonidos de Uruguay” showcase.
Mexicans usually have a strong presence at SXSW, which features emerging artists. But this year, the tiny country of Uruguay seems to be taking over the festival’s music scene.
Carlos Rivera, a music professor at the University of Miami, says that the overload of Uruguayan artists resembles the “grunge era” in music in the early 90s.
“There's always this great time in music when a kind of style takes on and becomes a movement,” said Rivera. “In 1992, we saw the grunge era movement was all these bands from Seattle were coming out like Nirvana and Alice in Chains.”
Rivera said there are artistic “power players” who think that Uruguayan tunes will soon have a big place on the musical map.
“There is this awareness,” he said. “The fact that you can listen to an Uruguayan band, it is the birth of something new. And there’s a lot of interest in pop in general validating music as an art form.”
These artists include Grammy award-winning band El Cuarteto de Nos, duo Campo and rock star Max Capote, whose music emulates 60s Motown with a hint of Amy Winehouse.
Capote tells Fox News Latino that he feels “the world has turned its attention to Uruguay” – in part, he said, because of its rich folk music and intriguing genres.
Elena Rodrigo, a rep for “Sonidos de Uruguay,” told Fox New Latino in a statement that 88 percent of the South American country’s population comes from European countries, like Spain, Italy and France, which is why tango and milonga are a big influence in the music. According to AdWeek.com, SXSW is expecting a whopping 28,000 attendees, an increase of 3,500 from last year and 9,000 more than in 2011.
Juan Campodonico, the Campo’s co-founder, said music from Uruguay is unique.
"Our music is very open platform to experiment," he said, adding that audiences will get to learn about "cumbia from the south" referring to a genre made popular in Colombia.
Like Lamar and James, El Cuarteto de Nos – deemed Uruguay’s oldest band – will be rapping and showing off their fused sounds of Spanish hip-hop and rock, along with Daniel “Tatita” Márquez, known as one of Uruguay’s best electronic percussionist. Malena Muyala will be spicing SXSW with tango and waltz.