SANTIAGO – The Premios Pulsar ceremony will be different this year. The Chilean music industry will celebrate without an audience and focus on collaboration more than competition. The trophy has a new design inspired by Mapuche worldview and art.
For the sixth time, Premios Pulsar, or the Chilean Grammys, will celebrate the local music industry and honor the best artists of the year. The ceremony will be different this time out. It will take place July 15 in SCD Bellavista but without an audience. Subela Radio will stream it online.
The pandemic and social distancing are difficult challenges for artists and musicians. To show the quality and amplitude of Chilean music, Premio Pulsar 2020 will focus on collaboration more than competition, and present an interesting constellation of artists – and a new trophy inspired by the Mapuche worldview and silver handcraft. The name of the new trophy is ÜL, which means “song” in Mapudungun.
Some of the award categories are “best album,” “best singer,” and “best artist” in different genres. The decisions are made by a jury, except for “the artist of the year” which is selected in an open vote. Here you can vote and listen to the artists nominated for “the artist of the year.”
The international star Cami Gallardo is one of the favorites to win an award at Premio Pulsar 2020. Other artists with more than one nomination are the trap artist Gianluca, the indie artist and producer Diego Lorenzini and the hip-hop collective Como Asesinar a Felipes.
Trends in Chilean music
These examples show some of the trends in Chilean music today. A lot of artists have gained international acknowledgement, like Mon Laferte, Javiera Mena, Gepe, Alex Anwandter, Cami, and Ana Tijoux.
On the other hand, many artists have become successful through a strong and dedicated local connection. San Miguel and Conchali are two examples of neighborhoods with a vital music scene.
San Miguel, in the southern part of Santiago, is the home of the legendary band Los Prisioneros. Today the most dominant artists probably are Gepe and the upcoming trap artist Gianluca. With his new album “Yin and Yang,” produced by Pablo Stipicic, he is on his way to becoming a star.
In the northern part of the capital, the legendary jazz combo Conchali Big Band has been a starting point and inspiration to various bands playing urban music. La Brigida Orquesta won an award last year, and this year may be the occasion for Como Asesinar a Felipes.
A third trend is a mix of the two just mentioned, a kind of global networking. Diego Lorenzini is an artist from Talca. He is not really an international star, but still with an audience in several countries like Germany. He has collaborated with the Norwegian indie pop artist Erlend Oye. Another example is Vicente Cifuentes from Chillán, who recently won the international competition in Festival de Viña.
A fourth trend is the feminist scene with artists like Francisca Valenzuela (and her project Ruidosa), Yorka York, and Denise Rosenthal.
A year with awards, outsold concerts, and lockdown
Gabo Paillao and his band La Brigida Orquesta won an award at Premios Pulsar last year. Ahead of them were outsold concerts and a tour in Europe. When Chile Today spoke with Gabo some months ago he had great expectations for the tour.
Did the tour meet your expectations?
“Yes, actually it did. I was really fascinated by the older people attending concerts, people with a lot of experience. I met jazz lovers that really could enjoy our music. In Malmö, a city in Sweden, the audience was not more than about a hundred people. But a very dedicated audience, [people who] really recognized our music as urban more than Latin. On a future European tour we might focus on jazz festivals.”
After the return to Chile it has been difficult to go on. First the social outburst and now the lockdown. Due to the pandemic Gabo had to leave his apartment in Santiago. “As an artist and independent worker, it’s impossible to earn a living today. I was lucky and my father could help me to find a place to stay in the fifth region.”
What do you think will come out of the current situation in Chile?
“I’m not sure. We live in an unfair system and this will not change. I think the solution is up to every person. It’s about finding what you can do to make something good.”
And what about you, what will happen now?
“This Friday, June 19, we will release a new project, with Terrible and DJ Perez. When you called earlier, I was mixing some of the songs. It is more electronic and futuristic than before, less jazz. The name of the project is Pannon 3000, and we imagine life on the planet of Pannon next millennium.”
For some time you were a member of Como Asesinar a Felipes, that is nominated to a couple of Premios Pulsar this year. What do you think of their chances?
“I would be happy but surprised if they won something.”
Marcus Nilsson writes about music in Chile Today. He worked in Sweden as a copywriter, editor, teacher and blogger. You can find him on Instagram as @chileanmusic30min