We, at "Border Blaster," have featured countless music videos from all over the world, ranging from Tuareg auto-tune guitarists to Syrian electronic visual artists. As the year comes to an end, we bring you our best "Border Blaster" artists of 2015. From Mexico to Syria, the music on Border Blaster further highlighted the underground global music scene, and these videos are the best of the best:
Rapper Simiso Zwane aka Okmalumkoolkat uses South Africa’s period of multicultural expression as an artistic opportunity to toggle between different identities and art forms. Switching between Zulu, Afrikaans, and English, Okmalumkoolkat provides a voice to different cultures and perspectives coming out of his post-apartheid nation. The content of his music focuses on the “future concepts in the now.”
Mercedes Nasta is a Mexico City-based actor, composer, painter, and performer creating experimental cumbia sounds. Best known as a member of the electronic rock group Disco Ruido, her solo work strays away from fast-electronic beats and moves towards atmospheric, Latin rhythms. Her dreamy, ethereal work is inspired by her Mexican cultural and geographic landscape.
Hailing from Aleppo, self-proclaimed ‘Electro-Shaa'bi’ producer and visual artist Hello Psychaleppo fuses traditional Syrian music with modern electronica. His trademark sound is the use of melodies from the Arab bedouin “Mawwals” with dubstep and drum and bass beats. The producer’s music videos and artwork often features stark visuals to raise awareness of the conflict in Syria.
Hip-hop has risen to popularity in places of unrest, creating a global commonality. Countless people worldwide have found inspiration in the genre, including the first rap group to ever rhyme in Arabic. DAM, an Arab-Israeli crew, uses rap as their medium to tell the story of what life is like for a Palestinian living in Israel. Throughout the years, their overtly political art has provided a much-needed voice in the Arab-Israeli and Palestinian community.
Buscabulla (Spanish slang for troublemaker) is the musical project of Puerto Rican couple Raquel Berrios and Luis Alfredo Del Valle. Inspired by 80s Argentine Rock and Caribbean psych, Buscabulla creates a playful, retro-experimental pop. Their self-titled debut EP was produced by Dev Hynes and blends the sounds of R&B and Caribbean soul.
Nigerien singer-guitarist Mdou Moctar is the first artist to ever combine Tuareg guitar and autotune. Although most Tuareg artists speak of rebellion in the region, Moctar focuses on love, education, and the everyday struggles of Tuareg youth. Like most music in the Saharan Desert, Moctar’s songs are distributed by using knockoff cellphones via Bluetooth transfer. Recently, Moctar starred in the first-ever Tuareg language film, “Akounak Tedalat Taha Tazoughai” which is a reinterpretation of the 1984 cult classic “Purple Rain” and loosely based off Moctar’s life.
Nicola Cruz is a self-proclaimed Andes step producer. His electronic compositions mesh folkloric instrumentals with current technology, creating an organic work that evokes the sound and landscapes of his homeland (Ecuador) with a modern twist. Drenched in nostalgia, it’s a beautiful dream into his past, with hints of the future lurking in his present.
Zimbabwe-born, Australian-bred rapper Tkay Maidza has been turning heads worldwide since the release of her 2014 EP “Switch Tape.” With a rapid-fire flow, the 20-year old MC has brought us countless high-energy club tracks proving her consistency as a rap contender. Despite her young age, the Aussie has collaborated with the likes of SBTRKT and Night Slugs’ producer Bok Bok. Her vibrant, upbeat persona can be seen in her glitchy video for "U-Huh."
Danpyunsun and the Sailors
Danpyunsun and the Sailors combine chamber music and bluegrass with traditional Korean folk to create an eclectic and dramatic sound. Hailing from Seoul, the quartet has become a mainstay on the South Korean indie scene. Their flare for the dramatic can be seen in the video for “공 Ball.”
Over the past few years, Iceland’s minimalist techno scene has flourished into a center of electronic ambient music. The BAFTA-winning multi-instrumentalist and producer Ólafur Arnalds has quietly gone about crafting a sudden and unique sound along with bandmate Janus Rasmussen in Kiasmos. Mixing string and piano loops with edgy beats, the duo creates experimental, atmospheric electronic music.