Not content with giving us Autechre, Holly Herndon and SOPHIE in the first line-up announcement, Sonar has treated us to a wave of exciting new acts. From party-ready trap beats to more cerebral experimental artists, the festival is ready to cater to all electronic audiences. As demonstrated by Skrillex’s recent collaboration with Four Tet, there is a new appetite for a crossover between the critically acclaimed and mass popularity, and I for one welcome this exciting new trend in the electronic music scene.
First up for the mainstream end of the spectrum is the aforementioned Skrillex. There is no greater sign of his burgeoning acceptance amongst the once snobby electronic ‘heads’ than Resident Advisor’s analysis of his collaboration with Four Tet: ‘Why haven’t they done this before’? Originally, Sonny Moore was seen as the symbol of the commercialisation of dance music, the theft of a once underground, radical movement by the big bad capitalist major labels. Critics seem more circumspect now, appreciating the leap of faith he took in abandoning a massive record deal with his emo band to pursue his love of electronic music. Besides, completely removed from the debate around dance music culture and ‘selling out’, Skrillex has produced more bangers than David Guetta, Swedish House Mafia and Avicii combined- whatever you think of EDM, there can be little argument that he is its rightful king.
Staking the claim for the underground, meanwhile, will be Dubfire, an American producer of Iranian descent whose music serves up groove and muscle in equal measure. It’s hard to put the satisfaction of a Dubfire tune into words- it’s better expressed through involuntary bodily movements. Check out his collaboration with Oliver Huntemann on the irresistible ‘Dios’ for evidence. While I can’t imagine a Dubfire set letting me down, I can’t help but feel there will be something missing if he does not drop this one at some point. It will be a very welcome slice of Ibiza in the Catalan sunshine.
In amongst the perhaps polarising acts, there will be a whole host who defy the mainstream/underground categorisation, from Evian Christ to Hot Chip. This is what makes Sonar such an unmissable festival: equal parts fun and intellectual stimulation, summer euphoria and visceral punishing techno party, it is perhaps the greatest demonstration of the diversity and progressiveness of electronic music in the world.
Sonar Festival takes place from Thursday 18th to Saturday 20th June 2015 across various venues in Barcelona. For more information and tickets visit festivalmag.com/festivals/sonar