Sónar will transform Barcelona into the global epicentre of electronic and digital culture

Sat 11 Jun 2016
Editor USM

The 23rd edition of Sónar festival presents 130 performances across 8 stages.

Sónar Festival

Sónar will transform Barcelona into the global epicentre of electronic and digital culture

On 16, 17 and 18 June, Sónar will transform Barcelona into the global epicentre of electronic and digital culture, with up to 300 events, concerts, conferences and dozens of innovative projects linked to technology and creativity

The 23rd edition of Sónar festival presents 130 performances across 8 stages. Among the highlights are a number of European and world premieres; a diverse range of electronica from Latin America, Africa and the Middle East; the pick of the Spanish and Catalan scene; stars of dance music and the international club scene; and a focus on social activism and critical discourse in the work of several artists.

Counting among the premieres will be new shows from Jean-Michel Jarre, Anohni, James Blake, New Order, Santigold, Flume, Skepta, El Guincho and Niño de Elche + Los Voluble; highly anticipated performances from Kelela, Yung Lean, Howling, John Grant, Kaytranada, Club Cheval, Lafawndah and Jamie Woon; and a classical music recital from British pianist James Rhode.

In the field of experimental music Sónar features shows from Alva Noto and Cyclo (marking the 20th anniversary of German label raster-noton); Oneohtrix Point Never; Kode9 & Lawrence Lek; and collaborations between King Midas Sound and Fennesz and DVS1 with Rodhad. Meanwhile, drawing from the fertile scene of electronic dance music will come highly anticipated dj sets from Matias Aguayo, Jackmaster, Mano Le Tough, Kenny Dope, Kerri Chandler, Richie Hawtin, The Black Madonna and John Talabot; live shows from Boys Noize and Bicep, as well as extra special 7hr sets played through a custom sound system from dj's Four Tet and Laurent Garnier on the revamped SónarCar stage.

Sónar+D, the 4th International Congress for Digital Culture and Creative Technology takes place within Sónar by Day, this year bringing together more than 4,000 professionals from 50 countries. Artists, scientists, technologists, researchers, entrepreneurs and companies participate in more than 150 activities that promote interaction between the creative industries and the scientific, educational and business worlds. A total of 28 conferences and debates will be held, with over 150 participants from 15 nations. The famous producer, creative thinker and social agitator Brian Eno will give the Inaugural Sónar+D Conference.

New urban rhythms and electronic diversity from around the world will take over all the festival stages, with prominent names from new British urban artists including Stormzy, Section Boyz and Lady Leshurr; Latin America's Nicola Cruz and Las Hermanas; From Africa Ata Kak, Mikael Nozinja and Mikael Seifu; and projects that draw from Mediterranean and Arabic traditions such as Insanlar and Acid Arab.

Sónar+D also features 30 stands in MarketLab, where more than 60 innovative technological projects will find a home. Among the exhibition highlights will be multisensory virtual reality experiences; amazing devices that allow you to move objects remotely by just looking at them; and advanced musical instruments without keys or buttons that challenge musicians to seek out new methods of interpretation.

Sónar+D supercharges the business area with the Startup Garden by RICOH, where a total of 30 startups will coexist alongside 46 investment funds, Accelerators, business angels and 30 business professionals from around the world who will participate in mentoring sessions.

Today Sónar previews the details of its new impact study on its contribution to Barcelona, not only economically but also socially, culturally, and from a media and innovation standpoint. A 360-degree impact evaluation, which in purely economical terms amounts to a contribution of 72 million euros to the GDP of Catalonia.

Sónar has created and will present the first online directory for educational opportunities in Barcelona, organising and systematizing career and educational openings according to the three main areas of Sónar+D: creativity, technology and business. More than 700 courses, in 50 centres, for all those interested in training in the various disciplines of technology-based creative industries. All this information is now publicly available online at

This year Sónar by Day changes its opening hours – Doors open at 13:00 and close at 23:00 (one hour later than previously). Sónar+D opens at 10:00 on Thursday and Friday, for delegates only. Sónar by Night opens at 21:00 and closes at 07:00.

Sónar in collaboration with Culturebox (France Télévisions cultural platform) and (the Catalan public radio) will this year offer the livestream of more than 35 video performances and more than 50 video & audio performances at Sónar by Day and Sónar by Night. They can be followed at, along with the main conferences at Sónar+D, which will be live on


Leading names in contemporary electronica presenting show premieres and new albums

Sónar 2016 features two show premieres on Friday, June 17 at Sónar by Night: the world premiere of a new and spectacular Jean-Michel Jarre show, and the first European concert from Anohni (ex Antony & the Johnsons).

The French producer, electronic music pioneer and creator of legendary and influential albums like “Oxygene” or “Equinox”, offers a giant audiovisual show to present the two parts of his new project, “Electronica”. Meanwhile, Anohni, the British singer resident in New York, begins her new chapter in electronica with “Hopelessness”, the highly political album unanimously praised by the media, which makes its European debut at the festival. She will be accompanied on stage by two of modern electronica’s most important artists: Oneohtrix Point Never and Hudson Mohawke.

As with every year, Sónar scours the pick of the international electronic scene, presenting them to a Barcelona audience eager for new music: James Blake, Santigold, Kaytranada, Flume, New Order, Kode9, Boys Noize and Yung Lean, all present new albums.

Activism, social themes and critical discourse at Sónar

Climate change, mass surveillance, immigration policies, transgender rights... The Sónar and Sónar+D program includes various artists and speakers noted for their political commitment and critical reflections on today's society, which will also be reflected in the staging of their concerts and the content of their talks.

Among the highlights are artists such as Anohni, Jean-Michel Jarre, The Black Madonna, Niño de Elche+Los Voluble, Kode9 and Gazelle Twin, as well as key Sónar+D artists like Brian Eno, Semiconductor (creators of the large-scale installation “Earthworks” in SónarPLANTA) and several of the speakers at the Decentralize series of lectures.

Urban sounds and global dance

Urban sounds like hip hop, grime or jungle take on a special role at Sónar 2016 in the hands of artists including Skepta, Roots Manuva, Stormzy, Lady Leshurr, Congo Natty, Kelela, Section Boyz and Ivy Lab.

The festival also pays special attention to artists basing much of their sound on the folklore and traditions of their native countries, such as Ata Kak, Nozinja or Mikael Seifu from the African continent, Nicola Cruz, Las Hermanas and Matias Aguayo from Latin America; or projects based on Mediterranean Arabic traditions such as Insanlar or Acid Arab.

The stars of the club scene and the new SónarCar stage at Sónar by Night

Once again, the festival becomes the ideal place to enjoy the best artists from today’s global club scene: Richie Hawtin, Jackmaster, Kenny Dope, Kerri Chandler, Soichi Terada, The Martinez Brothers, Ben Klock, Ben UFO & Helena Hauff, DVS & Rodhad, Magic Mountain High, Fatboy Slim, The Black Madonna, Booka Shade, DJ EZ, Red Axes, Bicep, Mano Le Tough and members of the Ed Banger collective are just some of the iconic music masters performing at Sónar 2016, transforming the festival into the world's largest dance floor.

This year the SónarCar stage at Sónar by Night completely changes its appearance and format, presenting two 7-hour sets by renowned specialists, Laurent Garnier and Four Tet. Both may well choose to play a different style to their customary sound, using their long sets to develop unique narratives throughout the night, which promises to be a singular experience.

The pick of the national scene at Sónar 2016

As in previous years, Sónar 2016 works as an X-ray of the national electronic and cutting edge music scene in Spain, with the inclusion of dozens of domestic artists in its program. Highlights include exclusive premieres of the new shows from El Guincho, Niño de Elche+Los Voluble, bRUNA & Wooky (with visuals by Alba G. Corral), and The Spanish Dub Invasion feat. Mad Professor; plus performances by Strand, Awwz, Cauto and Baelish, and dj sets by John Talabot, Paco Osuna, Coyu, Alizzz, Noaipre and duo Zero & Chelis, among many others.

Experimental music and artists at the cutting edge

The attention paid to the most innovative and experimental sounds from the entire spectrum of electronica, has been a hallmark of Sónar since its inception and this year will be represented by projects and top artists such as: Oneohtrix Point Never; mainstays of German label raster-noton (Alva Noto, Byetone and Cyclo); the pairing of King Midas Sound + Fennesz; new duo Hot Shotz, formed by Powell and Lorenzo Senni; plus three shows closely connected to Sónar+D: Field (Martin Messier), Kingdom Come (produced by Gazelle Twin) and Soft Revolvers (Myriam Bleau), all with important technological components in their staging.

The connection between the Sónar musical program and the content of Sónar+D is at its most evident in a series of concerts where technology plays an essential role on stage. This is certainly the case for the shows by: Kode9 & Lawrence Lek, Howling, bRUNA & Wooky with Alba G. Corral, Martin Messier, Gazelle Twin, Golden Bug and Desilence, Myriam Bleau. And, of course, Jean-Michel Jarre and German label raster-Noton (Alva Noto, Cyclo and Byetone).

SónarDôme and RBMA

The SónarDôme stage at Sónar by Day, will once again host Red Bull Music Academy. The 2016 line-up includes established names like Underground Resistance presents Timeline, Gerd Janson, Patrick Pulsinger & IRL, Lil Jabba and Jamie Woon, as well as emerging artists like Insanlar, Lafawndah, Astrolith, Sevdaliza, Sapphire Slows and Jacob Korn, among many others.

RBMA Radio will this year live broadcast all performances to a global audience in its entirety and in the lead up to Sónar 2016 will also broadcast a series of Sónar Specials from June 13th to 15th and on the 12th, a curated 10 hour long marathon broadcast featuring exclusive recordings and classic sets from the last decade. More information here

A study on the economic, social, cultural contributions to Barcelona by Sónar and Sónar+D from a media and innovation perspective

Today the festival previews details of its new study on its contribution to the city of Barcelona, not only its economic impact but also social, cultural, media or innovation areas. A 360-degree impact evaluation which in purely economical terms amounts to a contribution of 72 million euros to the GDP of Catalonia - demonstrating, for example, that 37% of companies participating at Sónar+D have increased their turnover through their participation; more than 80% of the public believe that their attendance gives them greater insight into musical culture and other artistic fields, and above all, more than 50% of those interviewed highlight the city’s creativity over other values such ​​as the weather, beach or food culture. The results clearly show that Sónar is a primary component in stimulating the city’s creative communities and an important linking agent for the cultural and technological industries.

Sónar 2016 partners and sponsors

Sónar is an initiative from Advanced Music with the collaboration of the Barcelona City Council and the Generalitat de Catalunya Department of Culture, with support from the Sorigué Foundation, L'Hospitalet City Council, European Union Creative Europe Program, We Are Europe, Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport and Foundation TMB; it's main sponsor is Estrella Damm and has sponsorship from Red Bull, Absolut, Adidas Originals, Ticketea and Zalando; technological support from PioneerDJ, Movistar and GoPro, and the collaboration of Torres, Coca Cola, Control and Bausch + Lomb.

SÓNAR+D 2016 / This year’s themes and objectives

Sónar+D acts as a catalyst for relationships between the world of creativity, technology and knowledge. This year’s program of activities encourages the interaction between different players within the innovation ecosystem, through the collaboration of the creative community with universities, scientific research centres and the business environment.

Among this year’s topics, Sónar+D will host debates on the impact of algorithms on taste and its effect on our daily lives; the challenges facing artists to manage technology as a tool for transformation and its cultural and social impact; the models proposed to decentralize the internet; the relationship between culture and activism; the narrative and experiential possibilities of virtual reality; and the potential of data as material for artistic creation.

Among the standout proposals distributed throughout the congress are European and national premieres pertaining to virtual reality productions, new musical instruments, sound and audiovisual prototypes and collective experiments that unite science and art.

The 3 areas of Sónar+D 2016

Sónar+D is broken down into 3 areas that trace all phases of the creative process, from the gestation of ideas, development and prototyping, through to the funding process, production, distribution and finally end user interaction.

Area 1: Congress

The Congress is composed of lectures, debates, networking and business activities from more than 150 speakers and experts from 15 countries. Key figures this year include the producer, creative thinker and social agitator Brian Eno, who will give the Inaugural Conference. There will also be lectures from musicians and producers like Jean-Michel Jarre, Richie Hawtin, Carsten Nicolai and Kode9.

Spotify and the BBC will discuss the increasing role that algorithms are playing in tastemaking though workshops on digital creation (VE, computers and , interactive design, creation of instruments, etc.) as well as a series of talks and workshops called “Decentralize”, which promote the decentralization of the Internet.

Another highlight will be the talk from Adam Clarke, a prominent member of the Minecraft user community, who will explain the potential of video games as an agent for positive change and as an educational tool.

Prestigious scientific Institutions such as CERN (the largest particle physics research laboratory in in the world) and Chile’s astronomical observatory ALMA (the largest in the world) will explain why they collaborate with artists in their research processes.

The networking Area, exclusively for delegate pass holders will include activities aimed at seeking funding (Meet the Investor), project mentoring (Meet the Expert) and a Jobs board for attracting talent (Job Market Place).

Area 2: Expo

The Sónar+D Expo Area will transform into an even bigger live laboratory, containing the new spaces and formats: Startup Garden by RICOH, and the Sónar Innovation Challenge, as well as MarketLab.

MarketLab gathers programmers, creatives, technologists, hackers, artists and designers together with the festival public, to develop projects in real time with installations and collective experiments: Spotify and Barcelona studio Domestic Data Streamers will present “The Timekeeper”, an installation developed exclusively for Sónar in which user behavioural patterns are displayed, allowing visitors to revisit their musical memories and to form new recollections for the future.

Also present are the Zaragoza Lab, Makeroni, creator of “Eye of Horus”, a wearable device that recently won an award from NASA, allowing users to move objects without touching them. They will also present the “Nevera Mental” (Mental Refrigerator) helmet, a devicethat dispenses a soda can using only the concentration brainwaves of its users.

Little Sun, the social entrepreneurship project from artist Olafur Eliasson, who will present a new solar-powered charger that also gives off light, fomenting productivity in areas without access to electricity.

In the field of music technology, Eurecat present several projects in binaural 3D sound, including an installation that allows users to literally 'move sounds in space'.

The Maker community and 3D printing will have a dedicated space at Sónar+D, with the activities of IMPRIMIDA Barcelona Art and Design Advanced Manufacturing Camp, developed by the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC), bringing together artists and designers who are experimenting with advanced digital manufacturing in art, music, design and fashion. The activity forms part of ‘IN(3D)USTRY’, a new professional event committed to the 3D printing sector that will launch after Sónar+D.

This year increases activities aimed at attracting funding and talent with new initiatives such as ‘Startup Garden by RICOH’, which highlights creative industry specialization, with 30 startups selected to present their projects, where they will receive training and meet with leading international investors. Also the ‘Sónar Innovation Challenge’ where several companies put forward technological challenges to be resolved by multidisciplinary teams of artists, musicians, engineers, designers and hackers; and the Job Market Place, the job board to contact professionals and the culture industry.

Area 3: Live Performance

The Live Performance artistic program gives a starring role to  the most advanced digital aesthetics with works by key names in new media and sound creation.

A total of 15 tech shows scattered across the festival stages, including Jean-Michel Jarre, Kode9 and Lawrence Lex, Raster-Noton, Howling and Gazelle Twin, among others. And two giant immersive installations: “Earthworks” by British studio Semiconductor for SónarPLANTA at Sónar by Day; and “Microtonal Wall”, by New York artist Tristan Perich in the Mies van der Rohe pavillion.

The premiere of Realities+D featuring 15 virtual reality works presented at the most recent Tribeca and Sundance festivals by studios such as Wevr and filmmakers like Felix and Paul. Leading studio Marshmallow Laser Feast , creator of the virtual reality piece “In The Eyes Of The Animal” directed by Barney Steel and Robin McNicholas will also feature. 'Animal' is A fascinating journey where the spectator flies over a forest and is able to zoom in on the tiniest detail and see through the eyes of various animals. It can be experienced through the Marshmallow Laser Feast studio’s specially designed VR headset, with a Subpac, a wearable vest shaped device that allows the user to feel movement through a powerful binaural sound design and vibration from low-end sound frequencies

Sónar+D 2016 partners and sponsors

The collaboration of the authorities in the consolidation, design and development of Sónar+D is underlined by two agreements signed with the Barcelona city council and the Catalan Institute Empreses Culturals (ICEC) from the Generalitat de Catalunya’s Department of Culture. Such agreements are specified in the joint definition of objectives and a plan of activities that have an impact and contribution to broad sectors of the creative and business community and local citizens.

Sónar and Sónar+D are part of the We Are Europe Creative program sponsored by Europe Creative Culture, which connects 8 European festivals in order to collaborate and work together for three years. In 2016 it will focus on "cultural entrepreneurship", and together with the festivals Elevate (Austria) and Reworks (Greece), Sónar+D will present its observations on the music industry, talks from digital activists and workshops that allow users and creators to regain control of the Internet. More information on the programme here

Sonar+D 2016 counts on the support of the following sponsors: Stage+D by Mazda Rebels, where many of the keynote speeches and presentations will take place; RICOH is the naming sponsor for the Startup Garden, the area bringing together the very best entrepreneurial projects from the creative industries; PlayStation® will also be present at Sónar+D, showcasing the video game No Man’s SkyTM and PlayStation®VR, the company’s long waited virtual reality device; and the Sorigué Foundation once more collaborate with Sónar on the creation and annual world premiere of the new media installation in the SónarPLANTA area.

Practical information: new opening hours, live streaming, cashless and the extraordinary gastronomic offering

New opening hours for Sónar by Day and Sónar+D

This year Sónar by Day changes its opening hours: we now open at 13:00 and close at 23:00, one hour later than usual.

ATTENTION: Sónar+D opens at 10:00 on Thursday and Friday morning, to delegate pass holders only.

Sónar by Day: 13:00-23:00
Sónar by Night: 21:00-07:00
Thursday and Friday 10:00-21:30 (delegates), 13:00h-20:00 (public).
Saturday: 13:00-21:30 (delegates) 13:00-20:00 (public).

Transport between Sónar by Day and Sónar Night

This year's regular shuttle bus service between Sónar by Day and Sónar by Night is expanded and strengthened. There will also be greater taxi availability.  As always Plaza España is directly connected to standard bus lines and the FGC rail service.

The festival website provides detailed information on all transport routes, timetables and services HERE

Pls note: the festival organization advises against using the Metro service to travel to Sónar by Night.

Food options

The food courts at Sónar 2016 continue to promote a varied cuisine suitable for all tastes. Organic products, ceviche, Asian cuisine and vegan dishes -among many other dishes- will be served, as well as beer for coeliacs and alcohol free beer.

New this year will be a VIP Kitchen takeover by three chefs from Barcelona’s top restaurants: Albert Ventura from Coure; Rafa Peña from Gresca; and brothers Max and Stefano Colombo from Xemei.
The takeover will happen in the in the ÁreaPro / VIP at Sónar by Day, access available to delegates and VIP ticket holders only.

The Sónar wristband, the only method of access and payment

This year Sónar puts into action Check-in points where tickets will need to be exchanged for a wristband. The wristband will grant you access to the festival and allow you to pay for all consumables through Cashless technology. A convenient and simple system that lets you top up your wristband with cash or credit card at both Sónar by Day and Sónar by Night.

Useful information at Sónar+D

Sónar+D will be held in Hall 4 of the Fira Montjuïc.

All Sónar+D activities are open to the general public except for networking sessions, which are exclusive to delegates.

Delegate Pass Holders will also enjoy preferential access to workshops and conferences until seating capacity is reached. The workshops require pre-registration through the web.

Sónar+D is open from 10:00 to 21:30. Activities for the general public will be between 13:00 and 20:00.


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