Going Underground: New Music from Ecuador

By 31 October, 2010

Situated between Colombia and Peru, Ecuador have formed their own sounds away from the cumbia of Colombia and the African and Criollo roots of Peru, with some influence from the traditional music of the Andes but mainly taking cues from the West. This is why here in our guide to some of the “underground” music of Ecuador we feature styles as varied as hip-hop, soul, electro, hip-hop, punk and rock, all of which have there very own Ecuadorian style.


When I first heard of this band I was a little sceptical of whether it would work. They wanted to bring the music of the Andes up-to-date by mixing it with hip-hop. I had visions of the songs of Enya interspersed with rap cameos. Thankfully these images were far from the truth as in its execution it works. The exotic sounds of the Andean woodwind as well as guitars played in the style of the charango, are blended with rapping sung both in Spanish and Quichua to great effect. This is definitely a group to keep an eye on.


Biorn Borg

Taut, post-punk guitars, loud verses and even louder choruses, and female vocals will bring comparisons to newer bands such as the Yeah Yeah Yeahs but I would say they’re more closer to the grunge gods of Seattle, particularly the Dead Kennedys and Nirvana circa Bleach. They have so far released one album Todo se Destroza and have another on the way. Their video for “Mermelada” is below. I think there’s just a touch of Gorillaz influence there.


Can Can

Can Can are the veterans of this list. Since forming in 2002 they have released two albums, an EP, a DVD and toured the US. They definitely like to keep busy. Their charm lies in mixing electronic and organic sounds into hushed splendour. They have a definite experimental edge with songs often taking unexpected routes, as well as alternating between trip-hop tracks in the style of Bjork’s Post album and more guitar-heavy tracks a la Tanya Donnelly, though I think it’s fair to say this band have a sound all their own.


Clo (or Clo Sismico)

Clo is the alias of the music producer Carlos Osejo. In addition to producing bands such as Marmota and 77seven, he makes great hip-hop in the style of Dr. Dre, using MCs such as Spiritual and DJ Zyborg. His new video for “Matematicos” is definitely worth watching:


Los Smokings

Dirty garage punk with a spirit direct from Detroit, home of Electric Six and the White Stripes. They even manage to get a few Dick Dale nods in there too. Los Smokings are a four-piece from Guayaquil that formed in 2007. So far they have released one EP which can be downloaded from their Myspace. It’s definitely retro music, but they manage to take all the good parts; the hammed-up vocals, the simple, infectious grooves and most importantly the attitude of all those bands from Detroit in the 90s and New York in the 70s which have informed their sound.



Stitch is the alias of Steven Dagenais, a singer and guitarist specialising in slow soul grooves, not too surprising since he tends to add Grooves Lentos Violentos (“slow violent grooves”) whenever talking about his music. Stitch is currently working with a variety of musicians from Quito, including Daniel Rosero (Dgroove) on synths and DJ Mic on turntables as well as a bassist, drummer and additional guitarist, towards the release of a debut album which should be released at the end of 2010, i.e. anytime soon! What makes this band interesting is the fusion they add into their brand of soul music, adding pure funk licks and hip-hop breaks, which leave the result not too far from the funky surrounds of Outkast or Goodie Mob.


If you are a fan of metal and thrash-metal there are plenty of Ecuadorian bands for you including Romasanta, CABAL or the legendary Ecuadorian grindcore band Chancro Duro. For a taste of Chancro Duro check this out:

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