Hispanic Heritage month may have drawn to a close, but this niche genre deserves your attention year-round.
We all know about the bedroom pop explosion of the late 2010s that gave birth to an entirely new subgenre of music. Thanks to the increased popularity of streaming services, there was a newfound accessibility to stardom that transcended many of the barriers smaller artists face. It was around this time period when many Latinx indie and alternative artists got their big breaks.
Many of the up-and-coming artists in this genre, as well as those who have already established themselves as industry superstars, are in their late teens and early twenties, making their song lyrics especially relatable (read: lots of hormones and heartbreak).
Although the genre has long been dominated by western culture, many Latinx artists have successfully worked their way into the indie mainstream. In their music, they blend traditional Central and South American rhythms and sounds with modern beats to create a unique sound that’s captivating and refreshing.
These indie singers and musicians are cultivating a brand-new sound by capturing the distinctly blended experience of growing up Latinx in America. Through their art, they are reinventing the general public’s perception of indie music, shattering industry stereotypes and uplifting their community of color. In a way, introducing this fusion of sound is an act of artistic rebellion.
That being said…
Here are five Latinx indie artists who deserve a spot on your Spotify or Apple Music fall playlists.
The son of Mexican immigrants, Omar Apollo began making music out of the garage of his childhood home in Hobart, Indiana. Today, he has garnered 51 million streams on his first single, “Ugotme”, and has over 3 million monthly listeners on Spotify. Apollo’s indie hits contain soulful vocals and emotional themes, and both funk and R&B influences and the traditional Mexican soul and corridos of his childhood make their way into his distinctive, guitar-heavy sound.
At just 20 years old, Ambar Lucid is building a body of indie rock music with dreamy and psychedelic qualities. Bilingual and of a Mexican-Dominican background, many of her songs feature both English and Spanish lyrics, transcending language barriers and allowing her music to have mass appeal. Her wide vocal range and moody, soulful lyrics make her a standout in the Latinx indie game.
Although originally based out of Holland, boy pablo’s lead singer is 22-year-old multi-instrumentalist Nicolás Pablo Rivera Muñoz, who is of Chilean descent. Following their hit single “Everytime” which went viral on YouTube in 2017, the band’s EP established their upbeat and rock-ish sound that has been described as “jangly” and “retro”, with plenty of soul in Muñoz’s emotionally-laden lyrics.
First formed in 2016, The Marías are fronted by lead singer Maria Zardoya, who comes from a Puerto Rican background, and drummer Josh Conway, an L.A. native. The band’s music can best be described as guitar-heavy dream indie with vintage jazz influences, with songs in both English and Spanish. Their band consists of the couple and their closest friends on guitar, keys, and trumpet. Zardoya’s sultry, velvety vocals are key to the group’s sound, a fusion of funk, bossa nova, and psychedelic dream pop.
Born Omar Banos, Cuco is a first-gen Chicano indie artist hailing from Hawthorne, California. Thanks to his viralty on Twitter and other social media in early 2017, Cuco’s sing-talking and self-produced beats put him on the dream pop map. Described as a “youthful maestro of indie”, Cuco’s chillwave sound, complete with smooth synth beats, a deep melodic voice, and Spanglish love lyrics, have made him wildly successful within the genre. He is also known for using his platform to advocate for immigrant rights, and headlined a “Solidarity for Sanctuary” benefit concert (serious king sh*t).
Not only are these artists providing us with straight-up bops, streaming their music helps young Latino and Latinas find success working within a historically white music scene. Next time you find yourself bored with your typical playlists, give one of our song recs a listen — you won’t be disappointed.