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Cuba Is Getting Its First Electronic Music Festival

Launching their efforts on Kickstarter, MANANA hopes to combine Cuba's rich musical legacy with modern electronic music—reconnecting citizens to the wider world on their own terms.

The end of the US-Cuba embargo is finally in sight. Back in December of 2014, Presidents Obama and Raúl Castro announced plans to reestablish travel, diplomatic, and economic ties between the two nations, a huge leap in easing a blockade between the nations that traces back to 1960 and the turbulent face-off between John F. Kennedy and Fidel Castro. In addition to limiting Cuban citizens' access to the outside world, the embargo had long limited outsiders' knowledge of Cuba's rich musical heritage—even as the occasional DJ, like Gilles Peterson and dubstep legend Mala, have done their best to


shine a light on it.

Now, MANANA, a Cuban/British non-profit organization dedicated to connecting the traditional styles of Afro-Cuban Folkloric music to modern electronic sounds, is working to bring Cuba its first-ever electronic music festival. The event is slated to take place May 4-6 of 2015 in the country's second largest city—Santiago de Cuba—and will attempt to situate the rich heritage of Afro-Cuban Folkloric music within the wider scope of the international electronic music community.

A partnership with "ethical travel company" Caledonia Worldwide, MANANA was born from a collaboration between Londoner Harry Follett and Cuban hop-hop legend, Alain Garcia Artola, who joined forces last year to record influential Folkloric musicians and get them experimenting with electronic hardware. Nearly a year later, their project has culminated in MANANA, which is currently seeking crowdfunding via Kickstarter, where buyers can secure everything from t-shirts to exclusive dubplates, and for the price of $129, one of 500 (non Cuban-citizen) tickets to the event.

After securing its $60,000 goal, the festival will be using funds to secure a lineup of both Cuban and international legends. So far, Mala, London club promoter Hydra, Santiago Rumba group Oba Tuke (who just completed a recording session with the festival organizers), UK tropical collective Sofrito, and Puerto Rican band Grupo IFE are on board for live performances and workshops.

Check out the festival's Kickstarter page and head to their website for more info.