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Berlin based, Peruvian artist Sofia Kourtesis drops her new EP "Fresia Magdalena" via Ninja Tune imprint Technicolour. Following her breakout EP Sarita Colonia - which saw her tipped as a 'One To Watch' by The Observer, feature on Emerging Artist lists from DJ and Mixmag as well as being named #4 in Gorilla Vs. Bear's 'EPs and Mixtapes of 2020' and appearing in this years NME 100 - the EP continues to hone her singular sound, using astutely selected samples and a joyful sense of personality and place to make something utterly infectious. Today she has also shared lead single ‘La Perla’, a track that is at once energising and meditative.
Utilising her own singing voice for the first time, ‘La Perla’ clears the head in an uplifting wave before getting the body moving. Speaking of the track she says: "Although I’ve sampled my own voice before, this is the first time I’ve really sung on a track. My dream is to develop a live show and I created ‘La Perla’ with that in mind. ‘La Perla’ is about staring at the sea, It's the first thing I’ll do when I return to Peru. My dad used to say staring at the sea is like meditation, it clears your head. This song is for him. It's hard for me to listen to La Perla as it wrote it during a time I lost my dad to leukaemia. This song is for him, descansa en paz papa" Though undeniably present in all her work, Fresia Magdalena is more rooted in Kourtesis’ native Peru than ever. On one of her regular extended trips home, the process of making the EP began with the collection of field recordings around the city of Lima where Kourtesis' family currently live and specifically Magdalena, their district..
"I look at songs like a collage" she says, "I put all the samples at the forefront and create music around them". Then finished between Peru and Berlin, the result finds both aspects of her life bleeding effortlessly into her music and weaving around themes and a broad range of styles that remain universal. From the gritty and pulsating rumble of ‘Dakotas’ to the twinkling groove of ‘By Your Side’ and the exhilaration of ‘La Perla’, Kourtesis’ ability to naturally flow from one style to the next, though always with an eye on the return to the dancefloor, is everapparent here. Thematically though, her message is simple and direct. "Fresia Magdalena is about activism" she says, "It's about making positive changes, whoever and wherever you are". A passionately vocal voice for the wellbeing of the community herself, Kourtesis here attributes this message to the person who inspires her most.
"Fresia is my mother’s name" she says, "her whole life she’s fought hard for the people of Magdalena, Peru. This is my tribute to her and the other activists around the world working hard to better the lives of others. We as musicians have a responsibility to help our communities to have their voices heard, changes are needed". A nod to another significant figure both to Kourtesis and to any unheard voices, the artwork for the EP draws an elegant line between previous EP Sarita Colonia and this one. "Housed within one of Lima’s biggest favelas, The Cementerio Baquijano del Callao contains a beautiful tribute to Sarita Colonia, the Patron of the Poor" Kourtesis recalls, "she’s an icon within Peru and the voice of the underrepresented. Gaining access to this cemetery is challenging as not everyone can just walk into a favela but after some negotiations we managed to gain access". Much like the music itself these images were then collaged to create something striking and new. Fresia Magdalena loses none of its impact when taken at its surface level – a collection of vibrant dance music that gets under the skin and lifts the mood with distinctive and addictive flourishes separating it from the pack. What really makes it unique though is the life bubbling under the surface of the collection as a whole. The influences, passions and relationships of Kourtesis as a person are behind every moment - a fierce call to action softened and presented with the warmth of family and home.
Patrick says: Falling somewhere between the heart-aching melancholy of early Nicolas Jaar, the techy Balearic of The Field and that euphoric electronica Kompakt seemed to dish up every week in the mid noughties comes Berlin-based Peruvian Sofia Kourtesis. If you dug on Koze's 'Pick Up', you should check out 'By Your Side'.
1. La Perla
2. By Your Side