In partnership with Bilbao BBK Live
In among the A-List headliners, the stunning Basque Country backdrop in the shadow of Mount Cobetas and the three days of hedonistic excess, Bilbao BBK Live is above all a festival that understands the importance of supporting local and emerging talent.
While the likes of Florence + the Machine, The Chemical Brothers and Arctic Monkeys are playing on the main stages at the 2023 edition, take a second to explore the entire Bilbao BBK site and you will find riches on the smaller stages, too. The Basoa Stage is the site’s legendary home for dance music. Offering a platform for DJs and producers both present and future, this year it will see some of the most hotly tipped beatmakers from around Spain, Europe and beyond rub shoulders with heavyweights such as HAAi and Ben Ufo.
Uniquely at Bilbao BBK Live, the festival organisers also understand that over the course of three nights, there are moments when even the hardiest festival-goers have to give themselves a moment to unwind. The Lasai Stage offers just that: all performances must not exceed 100 beats per minute, allowing audiences to slow down, listen to the sound of their metabolism and feel the gentle pace of the music massage their temples.
Here are NME’s five tips for the acts to watch at Bilbao BBK Live 2023’s Basoa and Lasai stages.
Dinamarca (Basoa Stage)
Who: Bubblegum vocals and Latin-flavoured rhythms to dance and sing the night away to
Key track: ’delixoxo’
What you can expect: Swedish-Chilean producer Cristian Dinamarca makes music that matches his own transcontinental background: light, loose, Latin rhythms dictate the pace, borrowing generously from reggaeton, while infectious, hooky vocal melodies create irresistible sugar highs that elevate the hysteria even higher.
When not running his own label Staycore Records with Ghazal, who also plays the Lasai Stage this year, he is pushing the boundaries with his own studio work. His new album ‘Soñao’, out later this month, brings his distinct sonic combinations to full fruition, where deep, bass-heavy production can sit comfortably next to the agility of the vocals, which skirt near hyperpop levels of animation at times. Bring all of the energy that you can muster.
Avalon Emerson (Basoa Stage)
Who: US producer bringing an indie sensitivity to Detroit techno
Key track: ‘Hot Evening’
What you can expect: It is nearly a decade since Californian producer Avalon Emerson relocated full-time to the club capital of the world, Berlin. In that time, she has remixed Four Tet, Robyn and Slowdive and established a formidable reputation as a producer and DJ, incorporating a dynamic, fresh new impetus into the convulsing groundings of Detroit techno.
On April’s debut full-length ‘Avalon Emerson & The Charm’, though, she opens her music up to allow in the gentler nuances and pastel colours of indie, adding her own vocals, while still retaining the restless energy of her earlier work. It is this combination of musical worlds that proves that Emerson is operating at a level beyond the limits of genre and scene, ploughing her own furrow. It is a late-night Saturday night set that is not to be missed.
Ouri (Lasai Stage)
Who: French-Canadian producer fusing the worlds of neo-classical and electronic composition
Key track: ‘Grip’
What you can expect: Ourielle Auvé entered the musical world through the classical training she picked up in Paris, mastering the cello and harp. Her hunger for pushing sonic boundaries took her to Montreal, however, and it was there that she immersed herself in the delicate, subversive textures of abstract electronic production. By bringing those two loves together, Ouri is now fully executing her own vision, a genre-defying amalgamation of all of the above.
On her Polaris Prize-longlisted debut album ‘Frame Of A Fauna’, released on her own label Born Twice, Ouri disembodies classical instrumentation, hovering strings and piano notes in an ether that is rich with atmosphere and intrigue. Cut free from the bounds of the physical world, Ouri is sure to use the Lasai Stage’s platform to create a sonic landscape that is in a space all of its own.
GAZZI (Basoa Stage)
Who: Nocturnal, mutant beats that pay homage to the early dubstep producers.
Key track: ‘Birds’
What you can expect: Andalusian producer Pablo Jiménez Codina will perform twice at Bilbao BBK Live: once as GAZZI on the Basoa Stage, and again under the name Tenguerengue on Lasai. It is on the former that his love for garage-inflected beats, chopped and diced vocals and skittering percussion can be fully indulged, though.
As heard on his 2022 EP ‘Cute’, GAZZI’s music owes a heavy debt to the mid-2000s dubstep forefathers such as Burial and Skream, although in Codina’s hands these rhythms, already bred in the post-midnight darkness, may only get dragged further into the underground mire. Traces of light seep in through the cracks at Codina’s judgement, but this is music made for the nighttime, sure to bring club-like energy to Bilbao BBK’s open air.
8kitoo (Lasai Stage)
Who: Open-minded, eclectic breakbeat producer from Granada
Key track: ‘AY :P’
What you can expect: Building his reputation alongside Chico Blanco as part of the Mareo Records roster in Southern Spain, 8kitoo’s music straddles many worlds: breakbeat, Chicago house, trap and experimental IDM all exist simultaneously, but none of them distinct enough to dominate. Broken beats and 4×4 garage rhythms are equally important ingredients, although as with so many enlisted to the Lasai Stage, one can only wonder exactly what to expect from 8kitoo in these particular circumstances.
Spearheading the current generation of Spanish beatmakers, 8kitoo is exactly the kind of artist that both proves Bilbao BBK Live’s commitment to the importance of the musical culture of its home country, and confirms that Spanish musicians are as central to the next generation of innovation in the electronic music space as those of any other nation.
Bilbao BBK Live takes place between July 6 – 8. Tickets are on sale now.