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Uruguayan music makes splash at SXSW

Nancy Flores

Editor’s note: This article was originally published March 12, 2014

You might not have heard of any Uruguayan artists, but the South American country, which was recently named The Economist’s country of the year, has been producing some unique musicians worth watching.

South by Southwest for the second time presents a Sounds of Uruguay showcase on Wednesday at Speakeasy featuring artists from singer/songwriters to rock bands. Cuatro Pesos de Propina, a band that fuses everything from reggaeton to rock, joins the must-see lineup. Their sets range from acoustic to edgy to impromptu flute playing.

Cuatro Pesos de Propina plays at 11 p.m. Wednesday and again at midnight on Friday at Flamingo Cantina.

A few of the band members including vocalist Diego Rossberg, guitarist Gastón Puentes and percussionist Gastón Pepe took time out to chat with us, despite their jetlag, about their first SXSW experience and American debut.

With South American giants Brazil and Argentina between small Uruguay, what’s it like for Uruguayan artists to break into the region’s music industry?

Pepe: Uruguay has a small market, so it’s crucial to find new horizons in other countries. It’s difficult for foreigners to break into the Brazilian music market, so we looked for opportunities in Argentina. Actually, we’re pretty well known now in Argentina, but when we exchange Argentine money, it’s not as much anymore with a tough economy. So we’re looking for even more opportunities, like this, to perform abroad.

So will you play other shows in North America while you are here?

Pepe: Yes, we’re looking at SXSW as our launching pad for more shows here. The furthest north we’ve played had been Ecuador, so this is a new experience for us. We plan to play several shows in Mexico and broaden our fan base there too.

What are you looking forward to during your first SXSW?

Rossberg: I hope that our band’s desire to play here comes through, that our love for the music can be felt, and that our enthusiasm shows on stage.

Puentes: I’d also like to check out Sweden’s Little Dragon, and we’d like to see other bands as well like Soundgarden and Kiko Veneno of Spain.

Other Uruguayan artists playing the Sounds of Uruguay showcase include Señor Faraón, Rossana Taddei, Daniel Drexler, Ana Prada and Hablan por la Espalda.