More than a decade has gone by since Systema Solar began gravitating around the rhythmic and psychedelic worlds that prompt revellers to dance at the world’s top festivals. Whether at Sziget in Hungary, South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, the Paléo Festival in Switzerland or Vieilles Charrues in France, Systema Solar has brought the festive atmosphere of the “picos,” the sound systems of Barranquilla, to western shores.
Full of joy and contagious energy, performances by Systema Solar provide a powerful echo of Carnival on Colombia’s Caribbean coast, blending the swaying beats of cumbia, raggamuffin, hip-hop and electro. With crazy costumes and colourful sets, the seven musicians break barriers and taboos.
The group has grown over the years, but at the core are French visual artist Vanessa Gocksch, a pioneer of the VJ scene in Colombia, and Colombian producer and sound engineer Juan Carlos Pellegrino, who has worked in Paris with the Daft Punk label. Singers John Primera and Walter Hernandez are backed by techno DJ Daniel Broderick, the scratches of Arturo Corpas and the percussions of Andrés Gutiérrez.
Systema Solar emerged on the occasion of the opening show of the 2007 Medellin Biennale of Art, when Vanessa “Pata de Perro” Gocksch, invited to perform as a VJ, suggested staging the show with a complete group. She puts together a collective for the occasion, improvising a repertory based on varied contributions from her back-ups. This spirit of improvisation in joy and creative freedom nurtured the group’s subsequent concerts and albums, starting with the eponymous album Systema Solar (2009).
In 2012, the Systema Solar track “Quién es el patrón?” was part of the soundtrack of the Oliver Stone film Savages, and in 2013 the group recorded two songs with Blondie, “Sugar on the Side” and “Artificial.” The voice of Debbie Harry can be heard in Spanish on their second album, La Revancha Del Burro (2014).
Their latest album, Rumbo A Tierra (2016), reflects their environmental concerns, in particular the tracks “Agauzero,” which talks about drought, and “Somos La Tierra,” which criticizes mining projects in Cajarmarca. Touring in Latin America in early 2019 with the Colombian group Bomba Estéreo, together they launched the track “Carnavalera” in March 2019, celebrating the Barranquilla street carnival.