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SONAR Is Making Some Big Changes for Its 20th Anniversary

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Sonar by Day 2013.jpgBig changes are coming to Barcelona's SONAR music festival as it celebrates its 20th anniversary next week. Since 1994 -- when a ticket only cost $4 -- the daytime events have been held in the city's Center of Contemporary Culture. But this year, while SONAR by Night concerts will remain at the Fira Gran Via, the early shows will move to a larger space near the Plaza Espanya.

SONAR's Georgia Taglietti looks at the change as an "opportunity to offer a fresh experience, greater comfort and better circulation between stages." And it's not the only change that people will notice: Taglietti told us that there will be a new addition to the three-day festival called Sónar+D that will include "more new media and activities aimed at the professional sector." And while in past years, the festival often took advantage of its proximity to the Museum of Contemporary Art by allowing access to the museum's current exhibits, Taglietti says: "We have been replacing the static museum exhibition format with one more oriented toward the live, staged show."

EDM festivals have been on the rise in the U.S., but SONAR has been on top of the electronic music scene for decades. They've always featured the best up-and-coming artists, and there's always a chance to catch a performance by a true pioneer in the genre like the late Karlheinz Stockhausen who appeared in 2000; or the visual artist Christian Marclay, who recently won international acclaim for his 24-hour film "The Clock," and who DJ'd at SONAR in 2002 using records chopped into pie-shaped segments reassembled randomly with roadie tape.

This year's more avant-garde offerings include a June 15th performance by Dinos Chapman, one-half of the contemporary art duo Jake & Dinos Chapman. The controversial UK artists were nominated for a Turner prize in 2003 and this year, as a side project, Dinos released a 13-track album called Luftbobler.

Enric Palau -- who co-founded the festival with Sergio Caballero and Ricard Robles -- heads the booking team and works year-round to select which artists get to appear. According to Palau, "some are decided immediately and others you consider as you go with the calendar. It's a participatory process in which several people in the office intervene." He laments that they've always wanted -- but have never been able -- to book Talking Heads.

DJ and recording artist Richie Hawtin has appeared at SONAR fifteen times since 1996. "I guess you could call me a resident at SONAR," he says, "since I've performed nearly every year since it began. Actually on the few years that I didn't perform, I still attended. I've had many incredibly rewarding memories playing in front of thousands of enthusiastic fans...but honestly, it's the quiet moments in-between the performances that resonate with me more deeply. Hanging with the SONAR team and other visiting artists, meeting for drinks and incredible Spanish dinners -- once with my parents and Ralf and Florian from Kraftwerk and another with John Peel -- moments and memories where time seems to stop." Hawtin returns this year for a special June 14th presentation of "ENTER," featuring UK DJ Maya Jane Coles and Spanish techno DJ Paco Osuna.

SONAR, Barcelona's 20th International Festival of Advanced Music and New Media Art, runs from June 13 to June 15 with Kraftwerk, Pet Shop Boys, Skrillex, Diplo, Liars, Jurassic 5, Nicolas Jaar, Baauer, Breakbot, Chromatics, AlunaGeorge, Gold Panda, Mykki Blanco, Jamie Lidell and many more. For the full list of artists, DJs, performances -- and to purchase tickets -- go HERE, and check out images from SONAR's 20-year history below.

AMBIENTE MAR-BELLA.jpg
The crowd at SONAR in 1997

MISS KITTIN.jpgMiss Kittin getting her lewk together in 2000

SONARCAR.jpgSONAR bumper cars in 2003

Massive Attack.jpgMassive Attack performing in 2004

CHIC feat Nile Rodgers.jpgChic performing with Nile Rogers in 2006

HAWTIN VS VILLALOBOS.jpgRichie Hawtin and Ricardo Villalobos DJing in 2006

SCISSORS SISTERS.jpgScissor Sisters performing in 2006

BEASTIE BOYS.jpgBeastie Boys performing in 2007

JUSTICE.jpgJUSTICE performing in 2008

ROISIN MURPHY.jpg
Roisin Murphy performing in 2008

GRACE JONES.jpgGrace Jones performing in 2009

LCD SOUNDSYSTEM.jpgLCD Soundsystem performing in 2010

ROXY MUSIC.jpgRoxy Music performing in 2010

MIA SONARCLUB.jpgM.I.A. performing in 2011

LANA DEL REY.jpgLana Del Ray performing in 2012

NICOLAS JAAR.jpgNicolas Jaar performing in 2012


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