Photo: Amber Lang
SONIDO makes music. Music from Latin America . . . sort of.
Some born and all raised from a young age in Sydney, Australia, the members of SONIDO are influenced by the music of their home, as well as the poetry, sounds and rhythms of their heritage. The product is a unique form of Latin American-infused musical expression forged in the crucible of their families’ immigrant experience in 1970s & 80s Australia.
SONIDO began its life as Sonido de los Andes in 1977, when a group of young émigrés began performing traditional music of the Andes using instruments such as the charango, quena, zampona, bombo and guitar. Their virtuosity and dedication found a wider audience than they expected, extending beyond their fellow South American immigrants to Australians of all cultural backgrounds, and the group became a standard bearer for dissemination of cultural traditions from “home” in a new home. They also inspired a new generation of cultural torchbearers, with their children (literal and figurative) forming many music and dance groups over the 80s, 90s and beyond, ensembles with roots in Latin America and branches in Australia.
This renewal culminated in the 90s when Sonido de los Andes became SONIDO and a new generation of musicians took the mantle of preserving traditions from their parents’ birthplaces, whilst injecting new influences that came from an upbringing in a very different culture. Though still firmly rooted in the folklore of South America, the group began to incorporate rhythms and instruments from further afield in Latin America, as well as from the Western pop, rock, soul and jazz that they grew up listening to.
The subsequent 20 years saw the musicians of SONIDO embark on a variety of other projects, in a wide array of musical styles and collaborating with artists from around the world. However, the draw of SONIDO was never far away and the group would periodically reconvene to perform concerts for fans, new and old, in Sydney.
Today SONIDO is focused on distilling the influences and experiences of over 40 years into a very distinct form of artistic expression. One that reflects adolescent summers spent on cricket and Andean music, of playlists that include Illapu, Irakere and The Isley Brothers, of marvelling at the songwriting prowess of Silvio Rodriguez and Victor Jara as much as Paul Kelly and Nick Cave. It is a music born of a love for their home, awe for their heritage and respect for the sacrifices of their parents’ generation that risked it all, voluntarily or by force, to build a new life in a strange place.
It is traditional music of a place on no map, a folklore in search of a country.