From BIA To Vakeró: Rising Latino Artists Speak On SXSW

South by Southwest 2017 came and went with its annual conglomerate of conferences, interactive media, film and music showcases in Austin, Texas. VIBE Viva and Mayimba Music’s cultural offering saw a vibrant hodgepodge of global superstars and up-and-comers take the stage at Malverde, a chic nightspot trimmed with wood and greenery, nestled atop La Condesa in the 2nd Street District.

From Victoria La Mala to Vakeró to BIA, our performers lineup was equal parts Afro-Caribbean, tropical urbano, R&B and hip-hop. Which left an intimate crowd of fans and the uninitiated alike drenched in whiskey-induced sweat (props to Jack Daniel’s).

Before hitting the stage on Friday night (March 17), seven artists had plenty to reflect on concerning career trajectories, crossing over (or not) and what it means to move in the world as a Latino recording artist today—this, among many other themes. For starters, here’s what each had to say about their experience at SXSW, many of which are a first.

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audrinix-sxsw
CREDIT: Marjua Estevez

I got my second show ever here at SXSW last year, and I still don’t believe it. To me, it’s unreal, and I don’t know where to start saying thank you because people are accepting my music in ways that I never thought that it was going to be accepted. Every time someone new meets me, it’s like a new door [opens]. I feel like South is that. South is like meeting new people that don’t know me and even though they don’t know me, they want to meet me and hear my music and want to know what I do. Every time I meet someone, it’s a new door that I’m opening. —Audri Nix, singer-rapper from Puerto Rico

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vakero-sxsw
CREDIT: Marjua Estevez

This is my first SXSW show—first show in Texas, period. Here, the people are all about the music. Everywhere I go, music seems to be a really big deal, and that’s what I love most about it here. Last night, I got to play with El Morenito, Chicano Batman and La Fame. I felt the pressure, too, to perform my best, no matter if it’s for a big or small crowd. My goal was to leave the people with a big impression, wanting more, and knowing what my music is about. That’s the mentality that I came here with, hoping that all this will lead to bigger and better things, musically. I gained a lot of fans here in Texas. —Vakeró, rapper and songwriter from the Dominican Republic

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stella-sxsw
CREDIT: Marjua Estevez

This is my first SXSW, so I’m super excited. I’ve been building my sound, my energy by myself, and trying out a lot of things. Throwing away a lot of things, and this is the thing that feels the most organic to me at the moment. [My new] set-up. I haven’t actually played [at SXSW] yet with these [new] guys, but I’ve played with them the longest, and it feels the best, so I just want the people here to feel what I feel. —STELLA, singer-songwriter from San Francisco

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la-mala-sxsw
CREDIT: Marjua Estevez

My experience has been incredible, this is my first time at SXSW. I am really grateful to see how the city has embraced me with open arms. For me it’s a very special moment to have this kind of opportunity, because as a female in regional Mexican music – as a female in the world – it’s tough. It makes me so happy to see that little by little, we are knocking down those doors, and I think that being here tonight is going to further help me do that. —La Mala, singer from Mexico City

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BIA-sxsw
CREDIT: Marjua Estevez

This time around, at SXSW, I would say more people know who I am, and I feel more people know the music. I’m going to leave SXSW with something fresh. I’m going to leave them with something new. I want women to see me and feel like, “Yes, she’s doing it for us,” and I want Latinos to see me and feel like, “Yes, she’s doing something for us.” Like this is different, and with so much swag. I want them to take that from me, if anything. —BIA, rapper repping Puerto Rico 

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messiah-sxsw
CREDIT: Marjua Estevez

This has all been amazing. I mean, you know I’m a big fan of music. A big fan of hip-hop. I am familiar with SXSW. I always heard rappers talk about it, rock bands, or whenever I would be looking at MTV, so for me to be here—it’s my first time in Texas, period. It’s amazing. It’s dope. In Texas, it’s not like New York, like super lit. [But] these people are really rocking out to my Spanish trap. —Messiah El Artista, rapper from the Dominican Republic 

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elijas-sxsw
CREDIT: Marjua Estevez

I definitely got to show people the essence of who Eli Jas is. I’ve had to really grow as an artist, so [SXSW] basically saw a new version of Eli Jas, which is fantastic. For the new year, this was one of my biggest performances that I was so excited about, and at this precise moment, I really want to say that I left a new essence for bachata… I was able to come out of my shell and really feel people out. I was able to actually show my personality and not [feel] weird about it. —Eli Jas, recording artist repping New York

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