Whatever these peoples' reasons for attendance may be, they number in the thousands. Figures for the official festival alone reportedly totalled 98,000 this year—and you could likely double that when considering all the off-Sonar happenings. Also factor in the 80+ different countries this number was drawn from, and there is perhaps no better microcosm of the global electronic music scene. We travelled to Barcelona this past weekend to meet just a few of the people who made the journey to Sónar 2012.
I've come to the Sonar because I work for Time Out magazine and came here to work, the same as you guys. I'm taking some pictures for their website; we've come for the Sonar By Day to try to capture the atmosphere and profile some of the people who came. I think Barcelona is the best place in the world to make this kind of festival. You've got the sea, and with the day festival I don't think a lot of cities have the possibility to stage a festival inside a museum. For me it's like, "wow, incredible." For the city it's great because it's a lot of tourists, people from all over the world. For people who are sensitive to the culture and music here in Barcelona it is seen as an important thing. In these [financial] moments we're living in it's like a communion [saying], "crisis, crisis, fuck off crisis!"
Lena and Danny.
Mexico and Holland.
Danny: It's our first time here. We wanted to go to Sonar because it was one of the things on our list for festivals around the world. We are enjoying it so much.
Lena: We live in Mexico City right now and we're taking this holiday and came over for the festival. Sonar is different from the festivals in Mexico. I think the cool thing about it is that it's an electronic music festival that has a lot of installations, new artists with new proposals, so it's not just a rave, you know what I mean? It makes it much fresher. I really want to see salyu x salyu, the act that Cornelius is presenting.
Luca and Ella.
Italy and Slovakia.
Ella: We came to Sonar to see some bands. I wanted to see When Saints Go Machines, Amon Tobin, Peaking Lights, Flying Lotus. The other reason we came was because Luca has to take pictures for a magazine.
Luca: I like Sonar by Day because it's in the middle of the city. I have friends who have been living here for a long time so it's a nice occasion to come and see them.
Andrea and Eli.
Eli: We're here to enjoy some good music.
Andrea: And the sun.
Eli: And play some gigs. Last year I came and hung and performed at off-Sonar so this year I made sure that I came to check it out. It's definitely way cooler than I thought it would be.
I came here last year and really had an amazing time but only did Sonar by Day so want to check out the whole thing this time. I think overall it's great here because of the combination between the weather, being a city with a beach and all of the off-Sonar parties are really exciting also, which I didn't know too much about last year. I think you just get such a good mix of people. Barcelona is somewhere that people love to come to.
I first came to the festival exactly 14 years ago, in 1998. I was invited by the official festival. There was some kind of "sound of Cologne" stage on the festival grounds, when it was near the beach back in the day. I was asked to play at Nitsa for the Ladomat night, a label from Hamburg who released some of my first records. That was the first time I played Nitsa and that was the moment when I fell in love with the club, and since then I've kept coming back. Sonar is one of the world's leading festivals for electronic music. I've been to Sonar by Day almost every year.
The last couple of years we've been to other festivals—Exit, Benicassim—and this year I suggested Sonar [to my friends]. We came here particularly to hear electronic music whereas before it had been bands. For me I was looking forward to seeing Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs—who I saw during the day and was brilliant. Friendly Fires, who are playing later, and then Fatboy Slim. My impression of the festival so far has been really good.
Bjorn and Eva.
Eva: We first came to Sonar last year, which was just amazing. In Norway you could never have a festival this big and with this kind of music without it being out of control. Here everyone is super happy and so at ease.
Bjorn: We actually met here at the festival last year! It's our anniversary. We're looking forward to seeing New Order tomorrow to see if the old guys have something cool [laughs] and we're really curious about Fatboy Slim today.
I work for SXSW festival and like to explore different festivals every year looking for inspiration. This year I chose Sonar because of its outstanding reputation in the industry and of course the great lineup. Both Sonar by Day and Sonar by Night venues are super impressive. I love the setting of both, the transition of atmosphere from day to evening makes for a nice shake-up. The visual component of the performances was stunning and greatly added to the Sonar by Night environment. It's definitely a festival I plan to return to in the future.
I've come for fun and business, as always. My agency, PullProxy, had a showcase at my favourite Barcelona club, Moog, and a showcase together with Curle at Eastender festival. Besides great music, Sonar is always a place to meet old friends and even get back in touch with people that live in your own city—we're all so busy with our own stuff in Berlin that it sometimes takes Barcelona to hang out. Parallel scenes co-exist happily here, from experimental freak out, to fashion fame, festival headliners and obscure underground acts. An offering like this only exists at ADE and Sonar, or in Berlin and London.
I've come to Barcelona for Sonar weekend every year since 2004. I actually met my wife here in 2006! I usually find something to get excited about musically as an excuse to come, and this year I'm trying to catch some of the UK guys like Blawan, Untold and Kode9 at Sonar by Night as you don't really get a lot of this sound at the off Sonar parties. I basically like seeing as many acts as I can, and the sun in Barcelona means I can work on my tan [laughs].
This is my first time at the festival. I've travelled from The Philippines just to go to Sonar. Where I'm from we don't have festivals like this so when my friend said "come to Sonar with me" I jumped on it. It's been absolutely amazing so far. I really enjoyed the Brainfeeder showcase, the Red Bull Music Academy Dome is dope as well. It's just an unreal experience because I haven't been to an event this big in my life, a legitimate music festival, so I've been feeling more connected to the world somehow.