Last week, Massive Act was selected to present at Sónar +D, the 3-day congress of creativity, technology and business of Sónar Music Festival, Barcelona. As part of the Sonar +D Startup Garden, we had unique the opportunity to pitch to investors and take part in mentoring sessions. Sónar +D brings together leaders and innovators in creative technologies from around the world, against the backdrop of one of Europe’s leading music events. Festivals come and go, most are lucky to make it to 5 years old, but this year Sónar celebrated its 25th anniversary with its biggest edition yet.

Sónar 2018 attracted crowds of 126,000 people, who flocked to Barcelona from 119 countries to revel in the presence of an all-star international lineup that this year included Gorillaz, Diplo and LCD Soundsystem. The festival is split between Sónar by Day at Fira Montjuic, and Sónar by Night at Fira Gran Via L’Hospitalet, two of Barcelona’s largest events venues that provide the ultimate setting for this forward-thinking celebration of international musical talent.

Missed out on this year’s edition? Here are our top picks of the most exciting artists we caught at Sónar 2018.

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Kampire

This year, Sónar expanded its international horizons to include “Diplo Presents…In Love With Africa”, a selection of the legend’s favorite performers hailing from Africa, culminating in a set from the man himself. The highlight was undoubtedly dynamic Ugandan DJ Kampire, who entertained expectant crowds under sunny skies on Friday afternoon at the SónarVillage stage. Also an active writer on African women’s rights and other social causes, the enigmatic Kampire took to the stage with two dancing friends, blue hair and serious energy. Her set was a sparkling journey through modern and traditional beats, a fusion of, as she says “bass heavy tunes, African polyrhythms and old school Lingala instrumentals”. Kampire is a leading member of one of the world’s most exciting labels, the Nyege Nyege Tapes Collective, hailing from Kampala, Uganda. Nyege Nyege means ‘the feeling of a sudden uncontrollable urge to move’ – a feeling Kampire brought to the fullest last week in her biggest and boldest set to date.

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Emma Jean Thackeray

This year’s festival saw the 14th year of collaboration between Red Bull Music and Sónar to bring some of the most intriguing new sounds to Barcelona on the SónarDôme stage. Among the showcase was up-and-coming London-based composer, producer, singer and trumpeter Emma Jean Thackeray, presenting her latest project ‘Walrus’. Describing her hometown as a ‘shithole’ and noting Red Bush tea as her ‘inspiration’, this multi-talented performer has an understated and idiosyncratic stage presence that matches a unique sound. Her music filled the expansive SónarDome hall, fusing jazz, brass sounds, touches of soul, Afrobeat, and trance in an emotional and mesmerizing set that saw her switch from beats to vocals to trumpet throughout. She found her musical feet playing in a traditional brass band in a small village in rural Yorkshire, UK, and has made a name as a forerunner in London’s budding jazz scene. With a stunning performance at Barcelona and more international festival appearances to come, her compositions are being appreciated the world over.

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Alva Noto and Ryuichi Sakamoto

Sónar is also renowned for offering festival-goers exclusive B2B sets and collaborative performances, and this year was no different. The festival drew to a close against the setting sun on Sunday night to the sound of the the pioneering new project ‘Two’ – the brainchild of Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto and German electronic music Alva Noto. It’s by no means the first time these two giants have come together: they started collaborating way back in 2002 and have since created the soundtrack to Alejandro González Iñárritu’s The Revenant and presented a groundbreaking live LP, Glass this year, inspired by the building they performed in. However, this was one of just three exclusive performances of their latest project, ‘Two’. The setting, in the majestic open-air amphitheater Grec in Barcelona against the last light of a hot summer day, made it a truly singular experience. Largely improvised, full of spontaneity and complemented by visuals, it was a majestic finale that left the crowd buzzing with excitement. The perfect way to close out this world-renowned celebration of talent, musical innovation, technology and creativity.

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Facilitating International Music Communities

International festivals and music events such as Sónar rely on complex logistics; organization across borders and timezones; effective communication between managers, promoters and organizers; and above all, connections between industry professionals. Massive Act helps make international music events like these happen. Our all-in-one platform breaks down barriers to connect festivals and venues with artists, meaning performers can reach bigger, global audiences easier than ever before. Jump on board!

Article written by Sophie Grant at Bourbon Creative.