Catch Pommez Internacional at their next show at 9 p.m. Friday at BD Riley’s.
When Argentina’s Pommez Internacional arrived at South by Southwest last year, like many international bands at the festival for the first time, they were testing out the waters. As a band starting to break out in their home country, they were curious how American audiences would take to their genre-bending musical style, which spans atmospheric rock to electronica.
A year later, Pommez Internacional has returned to SXSW – but this time things are different. Over the past year, the group’s visibility has gotten a boost in the Latin alternative scene across the country and in Mexico, where Pommez Internacional continued to tour after SXSW 2014. After experiencing a year of what they call “exponential growth,” they’re building on that momentum by working on new music in the vibrant cultural haven of Buenos Aires.
“We’ve been on a roller coaster ride that hasn’t stopped,” says band member Ignacio Cruz.
Although the group officially formed in 2010, an earlier incarnation of more instrumental and experimental sounds began back when co-founders Juan Ibarlucía, 26, and Hernán Ballotta, 27, were high school classmates.
Argentina has produced a slew of creative musicians over the decades including the late rock legend Gustavo Cerati as the country has traditionally had one of the strongest music scenes in Latin America. But a combination of Argentina’s “economic crisis and a lack of artistic vision” at the turn of the century, Ibarlucía says, led Argentina’s leading role in the Latin American music world to slip. Musicians who are now in their 40s and older had blazed a trail that was stunted a bit with the next generation, he says.
In 2004, a horrific fire swept through a Buenos Aires nightclub killing more than 100 people and leaving the city’s music community wounded. “Bars began to close down, and there were no places for musicians to connect with audiences,” Ballotta says. “Bands disbanded and only bigger bands (could withstand the aftermath).”
But Argentina is in the midst of a period of musical renovation right now, where musicians of their generation are beginning to “rise like a phoenix from the ashes,” Ballotta says.
But challenges remain. For bands in Argentina, the group says, it’s a difficult and slow process to set up a national tour because of the lack of infrastructure. “When you’re from Argentina, the odds of being able to export your music are low,” Ibarlucía says.
The group, among more than 500 international acts scheduled to perform at SXSW, is looking forward to sharing experiences with bands from other parts of the world, forging new friendships and taking advantage of the “opportunity to understand the complexities around the world,” Cruz says.
Pommez Internacional aims to keep pushing their career forward. As SXSW alums this time, they’re armed with a strategy to conquer the fest. The plan? Attending mentor sessions, being more aggressive in their networking approach and incorporating new songs in their showcases.
“It takes awhile to (figure out) how to move around the festival,” Cruz says. “But now we’re going to go for it.”