About a year ago, her name began to be heard on an international scale. Today, with the announcement of her third EP and after a couple of top-notch remixes, Sofia Kourtesis is consolidating her position on the international scene.
The Berlin-based Peruvian came to the German capital to set up her base there when she was 17 years old. Sofia actually came to Berlin to study filmmaking, but music was always present in her ambitions and goals. At 19, she was part of a hip-hop group, but, as she has admitted, as a rapper she was a disaster.
This would turn her towards electronic music and the German capital’s booths. It is said that her ex, Derwin Schlecker, AKA Gold Panda, had something to do with it, and she was also getting involved in those days as a booker for clubs such as the well-known Funkhaus.
One day, she finished the creation of her first track, a song called WinWin San. She sent it to Axel Boman, a founding member of Studio Barnhus, the Swedish label also run by Kornel Kovacs and Petter Nordkvist. The result: The Swedes loved her track and it appeared on Studio Barnhus Volym 1, the label’s first compilation in 2018.
From the very first moment, the Peruvian’s work has differentiating factors. On a background of variations on house, approaching deep, layers of samples from films and other records are poured, and an unmistakable Andean aroma. Sofia carries her country in her soul, and that transcends in her productions. She declared to a Peruvian publication: “I mix music from various cultures, but with the Peruvian at the centre”.
In 2019 she released two EP on Studio Barhuns, Sofia Kourtesis in March and Sarita Colonia in December. With the second one, the alarm bells went off on an international level. Sofia Kourtesis was beginning to be known beyond the Berlin underground scene.
As a result, the consequent acceleration came and in 2020 she remixed two tracks. The first is 24 hours by Georgia Barnes, daughter of Neil Barnes (Leftfield) better known as simply Georgia. Sofia turns the epic original into an elegant interpretation of the track with a layer of percussion that infuses it with a different energy.
Later, she does the same with HONNE’s La La La La That’s How It Goes, turning an intimate electronic pop piece into a dancefloor-friendly artefact. In these two works a distinctive stamp can be appreciated. Sofia Kourtesis converts sounds after passing them through her personal filter.
And just a few days ago, the announcement of her new work arrives, which will be released on March 19th via Technicolour, a sub-label of Ninja Tune Records. Fresia Magdalena is the title of the EP, which will contain five tracks and of which this tremendous track called La Perla comes as a preview. This release (like her previous works) is loaded with meaning and with very personal nuances and circumstances, as Sofia herself declares:
“Fresia is my mother’s name,” she says, “all her life she has fought hard for the people of Magdalena, Peru. This is my tribute to her and to the other activists around the world who work hard to improve the lives of others. We, as musicians, have a responsibility to help our communities make their voices heard – change is needed.
La Perla also leaves us with a small reflection, with bitter overtones for the Peruvian artist:
“Although I’ve sampled my own voice before, this is the first time I’ve actually sung on a track. My dream is to develop a live show and I created La Perla with that in mind. La Perla is about looking at the sea, it’s the first thing I will do when I go back to Peru. My father used to say that looking at the sea is like meditating, it clears your head. This song is for him. It is difficult for me to listen to La Perla, as I wrote it during the time when I lost my father to leukemia. This song is for him, rest in peace dad”.
Sofia Kourtesis is in vertical take-off. Her music is as powerful as the message she wants to convey with it. Her career is almost certainly going to get a more than respectable cruising speed.