Chicago’s Latin electronic music festival continues to break down borders.
By Max Herman|
A year ago at the Abbey Pub, Mexico City producer Kampion stood behind his MacBook and mixer dropping glitchy head-nodding beats across the stage from drummer Tony Macias, who responded with a fury of improvised percussion. Behind them an array of trippy, projected visuals illuminated the Abbey’s compact stage. This is FMEL.
Now in its fifth year, the Latin Electronic Music Festival (or Festival de Música Electronica Latina) continues to bring the progressive sights and sounds from electronic culture hotbeds like Mexico City to Chicagoans. More than just a showcase, it’s a multi-national exchange—a means for Latino artists from different nations to converge and for anyone to experience. It has grown into a citywide, weeklong festival held Friday 17 through Saturday 25, featuring interactive electronic-art exhibitions, community technology-themed workshops, panel discussions and performances.
“We want to explore the whole city, from the South to North Side and for everybody to enjoy it,” says Stephanie Manriquez, one of FMEL’s organizers. “We want no borders.”
Part of FMEL’s boundless approach includes an experimental analog-synth performance from post-rock pioneer and the Sea & Cake member Sam Prekop, which will be held Thursday 23 following a presentation on Mexican sound art. “It’s important to have [Prekop] there so we can present what we have in Chicago to the rest of the world or Latin America,” Manriquez says.
This collaborative spirit carries on in the club. This includes a Beauty Bar showcase on Friday 24 with a mix of local and Mexican talent like prolific Mexicali EDM act FAX, best known for his minimal techno. But it’s FMEL’s closing night at Multikulti on Saturday 25 that promises the most up-tempo punch with Charlie Glitch from Chicago’s own Ghetto Division, Mexico City’s tech-house act Métrika and more. As Manriquez says of the FMEL closer, “from start to end people are gonna be sweaty cause they’re gonna be dancing.”