Latin Underground Comes North

Latin Underground Comes North
On August 8 and 9, Toronto plays host to the first Latin Alternative Music Conference outside of the U.S. The obvious question is – why Canada? Claudio Castro, the director of the conference, explains that it's not so surprising: "This conference is not only to expand Latin alternative but Latin music as a whole in this country. Outside of Latin pop, this genre hasn't been taken too seriously, industry wise. This conference is to open up their eyes and show them that there is an market here, there is an industry here and the future of that industry is Latin alternative."

Latin alternative blends Latin impulses and sounds with all manner of other contemporary influences. The "Latin" content may not even be the chief ingredient in many bands, such as Plastilina Mosh, who headline the closing fiesta. Hailing from Los Angeles, they are an eclectic blend of rock, multilingual vocals, and electronics. In Canada, the Virgin compilation New Latin Nouveau exemplifies the range of Latin alternative — tracks from the U.S., the Caribbean, South America and Europe showcase the numerous genre-busting fusions at work.

In fact, Castro singles out France, of all countries, as a leading centre of progressive Latin bands. "France is coming out with some incredible stuff right now. Four or five of the biggest acts in this genre right now are coming out of Paris." Canada, with its multicultural traditions and increasing Latin population, would be a natural market for new Latin sounds. Indeed, Manu Chao has gone gold twice in Canada, selling 40,000 of 60,000 total sales in Quebec alone.

The conference will include panels on definitions of Latin alternative, career building, issues in media coverage of Latin music, and a DJ showcase. For more information, visit www.latinalternative.com/canada.