A conversation with up-and-coming Chilean band Protistas

This is Chile caught up with the local indie-rock band after their powerful set at Lollapalooza Chile 2013.

One of Chile’s up-and-coming music acts, Protistas, played a fabulous set at Lollapalooza Chile on the intimate, indoor Lotus Stage last Sunday afternoon. Their swayable tunes have a washed-out beach vibe – a veneer of 60’s bop that remains firmly rooted in the present.

Their debut at Lollapalooza Chile came in the wake of their participation in two important international music festivals in the U.S.: South by Southwest in Austin, Texas and Festival NRMAL in Monterey, California.

For a young band with a decent amount of international exposure, their Chilean following is small but devout. Lollapalooza Chile was an opportunity for Protistas to reach out to a broader audience in their home country.

In an interview with This is Chile, Protistas’ co-founder and frontman Álvaro Solar and guitar player and vocalist Julian Salas spoke about their history as a band and their experiences at Lollapalooza Chile.

“It’s quite a long story,” Solar joked. “We began playing together in 2008. Andrés and I started as a duo and little by little we began forming the band. It was gradual.”

Unfazed by by the sheer magnitude of Lollapalooza Chile, Solar reflected coolly on his experiences at the festival.

“It’s been entertaining. But you really have to be nervous for this kind of gig, it’s a huge option and opportunity,” Solar said. “We had a great time playing.”

Both Solar and Salas were vexed that one of the bands they had most wanted to see at the festival, Bad Brains, played at the same time as they did. Bad Brains are a Washington, D.C. hard core punk rock band considered pioneers of the genre.

“Bad Brains is a legend that maybe most people haven’t heard of, but there are a legend in popular music. They defined the hard core style as a musical genre,” Sala described.

“Hard core is the true response to English punk,” Salas added.

Fresh from playing one of the U.S.’s most important annual music festivals, South by SouthWest, Solar and Salas were enamored with the music scene they encountered in Austin, Texas.

“We always dreamed of playing in the United States,” Salas explained, describing Austin as a place of “musical hyperventilation.”

Collaboration and the future

During their Lollapalooza Chile set, Protistas invited Chilean folk singer Camila Moreno to accompany them on two songs. Moreno’s soaring vocals and popping dance moves naturally blended with the group’s sound and image, while adding a desirable layer of femininity and spunk.

“We met Camila recently but we knew of her through different friends,” Solar described. “We knew there was a mutual admiration between us.”

Clearly exhausted in the aftermath of such an overwhelming performance, Solar teased that there was no future for Protistas.

Tomorrow we die, there are no plans for anything!” he exclaimed.

But more timid guitarman Salas chimed in with Protistas’ modest and honest goal.

“After we resuscitate ourselves, the plan is to keep playing, hopefully outside of Santiago.”

Besides Solar and Salas, members of Protistas include cofounder Andrés Acevedo on the drums and vocals, Sebastián Grez on keyboard and percussion, and Alejandro Palacios on bass and trumpet. Listen to their music and learn about upcoming concert dates in Chile and abroad visit their website.

If you’re hoping to catch Protistas right away, the band is playing in Santiago this Saturday, April 13 at Festival América Mestiza in La Reina. Visit the webpage for more information.

By Gwynne Hogan