5 SXSW Artists to Boost Your Playlist

Top música you don’t want to miss

After two years, we’ve missed the dance parties, roar of the crowd and magical music moments that come with live South by Southwest music showcases. This year we saw it come back, finally.

We saw the return of some Latinx artists, while others made their international debuts. Meanwhile, some of our local and regional artistas stepped triumphantly into the bright global spotlight that the fest brings.

Here’s some bands that made a splash and that we think you’d enjoy adding to your playlists. Of course, this isn’t complete by any means but just a taste of the caliber of Latinx talent out there. We hope festivals across the country continue to book diverse artists and create more inclusive line-ups that are representative of our communities.

El Dusty

(Corpus Christi, Texas)

This Latin Grammy-nominated electro cumbia innovator gave us permission to release the pent-up pandemic energy on the dance floor when he delivered the hip hop-inflected cumbia beats we were all craving.

He’s long been a pioneer producer and artist and during SXSW released the EP “Product of the Streets” featuring “Estoy Loco” with artist Lil’ Ro among other songs. To create “Estoy Loco,” El Dusty dove into the renowned Fania Records’ vault and received exclusive access to sample the Lebron Brothers’ “Estoy Loco.”

Keep an eye out for El Dusty’s upcoming EP “Sombrero Galaxy,” which is inspired by Chicano sci-fi films and will be released alongside a comic book.


Making Movies

(Kansas City)

Making Movies’ bilingual rock rooted in Latin American rhythms has been turning heads for more than a decade. The quartet, founded by two Panamanian brothers, was set to perform at SXSW 2020 before the world turned upside down.

Fortunately, the group rocked the NPR Alt.Latino Radio Day Stage at this year’s fest among their other appearances and brought new music inspired by time away from the road and reflection in isolation. Among their new songs is the soulful single “Calor,” which on the album features Rev. Charles Hodges who played iconic keyboard parts on Al Green’s records and the vocals of the Sensational Barnes Brothers.

Frontman Enrique Chi shared with the crowd how the early lockdown days got him thinking of what he really wanted out of life. The answer, he said, turned out to be simple but not easy — real love. That’s how “Calor” was born.

The Tiarras

(Austin, Texas)

From a goosebump-inducing rendition of “Amor Eterno” to rock-fueled anthems, The Tiarras’ star continues to grow brighter.

Those in Austin’s music scene have seen The Tiarras evolve from talented young sister band to fierce musicians and social justice advocates stepping into a new chapter of their music careers. They recently shed their former band name The Tiarra Girls, signaling a new era for the power trio that includes new music like their recently released single “They Don’t See Us” and anthems like “Soy Chingona” and “Let Love Free.”

With their musicianship, talent and ability to connect with audiences, The Tiarras are destined for bigger things ahead.


Reserva Fantasma

(Costa Rica)

Take a journey through the rainforest with the sounds of Reserva Fantasma. Inspired by their country’s flora and fauna, the psychedelic electro-Latin rhythms are a tropical trip.

Watching the band’s live performance is its own artful experience as the bandmates jump from instrument to instrument (we counted at least 16) with everything from wind chimes to foot tambourines.

Kiko Villamizar

(Austin, Texas)

There was nothing more fitting than to wrap up SXSW week with an acoustic drum circle led by Austin’s own Kiko Villamizar with local residents and concertgoers dancing around him like family. That’s the kind of connection Villamizar offers with his música that highlights everything from traditional Afro-Colombian drums to indigeneous Colombian gaita flutes in sounds that range from psychedelic to what he describes as tropical futurism.

Villamizar recently released the album “Todo El Mundo,” which is inspired by the element of wind. Songs on the album touch on themes from separated families at the border to not giving up hope and planting seeds that will one day bear fruit.

Villamizar’s music has earned national and international attention and although we like to claim our local musicians in Austin for ourselves sometimes, it’s incredibly special to share music like his with the world.

Other SXSW recommendations we wished we caught live at SXSW but should still be on your playlist:

Gina Chavez (Austin)

Lily Aviana (Houston)

Fabiola Roudha (Guatemala)

Diamante Pérez (Wichita, KS)

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