As a country that spans 4,270 km from north to south, Chile has a diverse and interesting culture that is reflected as much in its music as in its national traditions. From traditional “cumbia” music to reggaeton and rock, the music of Chile offers a range of different styles and beats. Many popular artists have become international names on the global stage with their unique take on traditional sounds.
Here is Chile Today’s top 10 Chilean bands from over the years:
La Ley is one of Chile’s most popular rock bands. A combination of pop and rock, the band has won a Grammy Award and two Latin Grammy Awards. Formed in 1987, La Ley has released eight albums, the most recent in 2016. The band’s second album, “Doble Opuesto,” in 1991 made them stars across Chile, Mexico, and Argentina.
Makiza is a hip-hop band featuring lead rapper Ana Tijoux. The group formed in 1997 and released its first album, “Vida Salvaje,” which enjoyed great success. Tijoux helped bring the band into the spotlight with her reputation as an artist who uses music to comment on the social injustice in Chile. As a daughter of parents who were exiled from Chile during the dictatorship, her songs are a way of exploring the sensitive matters of society, which Makiza has continued to do through its lyrics.
Gondwana is a Chilean reggae band that has enjoyed widespread success across the United States and Jamaica, both popular locations for reggae. The group formed in 1987 and found inspiration from groups such as The Police. Gondwana is still an active and popular group with nine albums to its name and is currently completing a tour of the United States.
Daniel Sepulveda, also known as Gepe, combines the traditional music of Chilean folk with a unique electropop sound. He has released five solo albums and one as a member of the band Taller Dejao, a techno band which formed in 2002. Gepe has been described as “the new guru of Chilean folk” and is widely popular across Chile.
The music of Villa Cariño belongs to the “New Chilean cumbia” scene which combines a mix of cumbia, salsa, timba, and funk styles. Cumbia originates from Colombia as an expression of African, European, and Indigenous cultures. The band formed in 2001 and has released four albums that have achieved wide success across Latin America.
Los Tetas is a Chilean Funk band which formed in 1994 and enjoyed huge success in their early years. The group disbanded in 2004 after multiple changes to the group’s brand and artists, and then reformed later in 2009 with the original four artists. The group’s 1997 album “La Medicina” is widely recognized as one of the best Latin American funk albums of all time.
This Chilean rock band took inspiration from famous bands popular in the 1960s, such as The Beatles. Formed in 1999 by two brothers from Concepción, known as the “cradle of Chilean rock,” their music combines popular rock with traditional Chilean folk. The name “Los Bunkers” pays tribute to their biggest idols – The Beatles, The Kinks, Los Jokers, and Los Sonnys.
Chico Trujillo is a “New Cumbia” band with a combination of cumbia, ska, reggae and rock. The group frequent performs at the Lollapalooza music festival and has become popular for its easy dance music which pairs perfectly with a Piscola.
A similar vibe to Chico Trujillo, Moral Distraída is a band that incorporates Cuban and Uruguayan salsa with a mix of hip-hop and reggaeton. Known for body-positive songs and impressive dancing, the band released its first single in 2010.
Newen Afrobeat is the first Chilean afrobeat band. After forming in 2009, it made this unique style of music popular in Chile with its own take on the afrobeat style originally created by Fela Kuti. The group is now regarded as one the world’s top Afrobeat groups and has enjoyed success with world tours and concerts across the globe.
Katie is a student from Exeter University where she is studying English Literature and Spanish. This year she is interning with Chile Today as part of her year abroad in Latin America. She believes in the importance of a global newsroom which spreads the news of the world to every corner and gives voice to the people.