ESNS 2023: DIY's Focus On Spain

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As the head of programme and booker for ESNS, it’s safe to say that Robert Meijerink knows his stuff when it comes to new and emerging talent. This year, as the festival puts a spotlight on Spain, he gives a little more detail on just what goes into deciding upon a focus country for the festival, and why Spain feels like the perfect fit for 2023…

How does the festival decide on who should be the focus country every year?

ESNS closely cooperates with many partners such as Export Offices, public broadcasters and Exchange Festivals amongst others. We have had many focus countries in the past such as Switzerland, Italy, France, Central Eastern Europe, Iceland, Denmark and many others but there are still more countries to go.

What made you think that this was the right time to shine a light on Spain, as the focus country? What sort of unique take do you think they'll have on being this year's focus country?

Spain is one of the biggest countries in Europe, with a blooming music sector and a huge amount of live shows at festivals and venues. It was a long term wish

Spain in 2022 but indeed, due to the cancelling of the physical edition in 2022 we decided to postpone to 2023. We decided to invite new acts and re-start the whole project.

When you pick a focus country, what do you hope that they’ll get out of it?

The wish of ESNS is that not only the country, its artists, and professionals are highlighted but of course, we hope that there will be a return on investment, that the Spanish acts will be booked based on their appearance at ESNS. Also, that they will receive (positive) media exposure, and can expand their professional network by adding partners, promoters, labels, managers and agents to their team.


As part of 2023’s Focus On Spain, a whole host of key industry delegates will be attending the festival to both support the initiative, and introduce attendees to the Spanish music industry. Meet the delegation below…


Ministry of Culture of Spain

Having been born in Pamplona, Adriana is now Director of Cultural Industries, Intellectual Property and Cooperation at the Spanish Ministry of Culture and Sport. As well as being a lecturer on copyright and cultural industries, she has also participated in different legal and cultural publications.

SPEAKING ON: Spain: Land Of Many & Different Markets

Back 9, Thurs 19th Jan, 12.00-13.00


Universal Music

Having previously worked in different roles at Capitol Records, BMG Publishing and RCA Records, Alicia is now General Manager at Universal Music Spain. During her career, she’s worked with local artists such as David Bisbal, Alejandro Sanz and Pablo Lopez as well as huge stars such as U2, Rihanna and Olivia Rodrigo.

SPEAKING ON: Spain: Record Labels, Publishers, Distributors and Rights Societies local & global cases of success

Back 9, Thurs 19th Jan, 16:30-17:30


Fira Trovam / Valencia Music Official


Like someone who has been away from home for a long time and now returns with the curious gaze of the visitor, the brothers Alejandro and Víctor Hernández have immersed themselves in the musical tradition of their home in Barcelona to give birth to Maestro Espada. In this exciting project analogue synthesisers meet percussion and lutes, proving that electronic music will one day become folklore too.

WATCH LIVE: Akerk, Fri 20th Jan, 23:45-00:30

Is it possible to mix Japanese city pop with British indie rock? To sing English, Spanish and Japanese in the same song? Ghouljaboy says it is. Living on the Spanish coast, the young artist debuted with an 18-song trap mixtape followed by an album drowned in guitars and distortion. Quoting Arctic Monkeys, Porches and David Cronenberg as inspirations, he loves to crank up his guitar's volume and released another sultry EP in 2022.

WATCH LIVE: VERA, Wed 18th Jan, 22:15-23:00


Formed in 2020 by three young artists from San Sebastian, this Basque outfit fosters anonymity and labels their music as "violent pop", wherein melodic aspects and catchy choruses coexist with the more aggressive elements. In March 2021, the band released ‘Zerua Orain’, their first LP, co-produced by the international producer and DJ Ed Is Dead, and followed the release by touring packed venues in the Basque Country and Spain.

WATCH LIVE: Palace, Wed 18th Jan, 23:00-23:40



Exploring the fusion of tradition with urban and other modern music, Sabela Maneiro, Aida Tarrío and Olaia Maneiro are the cantareiras - or singers - for a new decade. They reinterpret century-old songs, merging them with modern, urban sounds closer to electronic or trap music. The Spanish group builds respectfully on the legacy of the pandereteiras, the female tambourine players who kept Galician traditional music alive.

WATCH LIVE: Grand Theatre (Main), Thurs 19th Jan, 00:30-01:15


Barcelona-based Marina Herlop invites the listener into her otherworldly dreamscape, where she experiments with konnakolSouth Indian - syllables and Karnatic rhythms as well as harnessing a processed voice and electronics. Having released her debut album on James Rhodes’ Instrumental label in 2016, her third album ‘Pripiyat’ landed in May 2022 on cult label PAN. This time she deviated from mostly piano-based compositions to allow room for more electronics, resulting in an exciting and emotional album.

WATCH LIVE: Stadsschouwburg, Wed 18th Jan, 21:30-22:15



A 24-year-old Barcelonan, Marta Knight spent her adolescence obsessed with Oasis, The Stone Roses and The Smiths before falling hard for singersongwriters like Johnny Cash, Tracy Chapman, and Bob Dylan. She writes for the space between midnight and the dawn, and her songs soundtrack latenight confessions, the moments when you are just as likely to fall in love as to stare at the ceiling, wondering what you’re doing with your life. Her stunning debut album ‘Strange Times Forever’ - released in June 2022 - comes produced by Pau Riutort (Rosalía, FKA Twigs).

WATCH LIVE: Stadsschouwburg, Fri 20th Jan, 20:00-20:45


Go Cactus are a Balearic trio that masterfully navigates the waters of garage, surf and indie rock. In late 2017, they released their first EP and played more than 100 shows, from concerts in Spain to a tour in the UK. Following their debut, they’ve released two further EPs featuring a mature sound that recalls bands like Fontaines DC or Viagra Boys.

WATCH LIVE: All Round Poolcentrum, Fri 20th Jan, 20:45-21:30

One of the most surprising and individual Spanish rock groups, their stand-out song ‘Spanish Anthem’ is a sonorous and conceptual affair, a collision between flamenco, funk, rap, krautrock and Afrobeat. They put Sonic Youth, the Shangri-Las, Velvet Underground and adolescent anguish into the mix along with the Spanish and Latin traditions, mixing dark boleros with light pop and hope. The Spanish music press highlighted their last album ‘KOKOSHCA’ as being one of the best of 2021.

WATCH LIVE: All Round Poolcentrum, Wed 18th Jan, 20:45-21:30




The music of Queralt Lahoz is dotted with Latin and urban influences. Soul, hip hop, trap and dancehall converge naturally, framed by spontaneous overtones of Andalusian copla and bolero, irrepressibly revealing the artist’s flamenco origins. Much of Queralt's family migrated from Granada to Barcelona, and her music is rooted in tradition, drawing on the family tree of workingclass women, and tracing a bridge between past, present and future for an artist blessed with one of the most powerful voices on the scene.

WATCH LIVE: Stadsschouwburg, Thurs 19th Jan, 20:00-20:45


It's not the same cultivating house music in l’Empordá as it is in Detroit as it is in l’Empordà, but the stylistic variation practised by Mainline Magic Orchestra is touched by the north wind and inflated with stage eccentricity. The members of this Catalan collective go on stage wearing make-up and costumes that could well be part of Klaus Nomi's wardrobe, and they then proceed to ruthlessly drive their audiences onto the dancefloor.

WATCH LIVE: Huize Maas (Main), Friday 20th Jan, 01:15-02:00


Irenegarry is the artistic project of Irene Garrido from Madrid. Having played the guitar since she was eight and writing songs since 2020, her style is reminiscent of Rei Ami, Alice Phoebe Lou, Biig Piig or even Lily Allen; but it still sounds like Irenegarry. Last summer she travelled to Bedford to record ‘Dime Que Me Calle’ with UK producer Jamal Hadaway, the first song of an album that began taking shape during 2022.

WATCH LIVE: Akerk, Thurs 19th Jan, 23:45-00:30

A Spanish rock, folk and psychedelic rockabilly duo formed in 2018, it may just be Marcos on guitar and Victor on drums, but Yo Diablo sound like a full band thanks to their fingerpicking guitar techniques and loop pedals. Having released their debut ‘Serpientes’ in 2019, they’ve just finished the follow-up: a personal, instrumental and experimental interpretation of the soundtrack of the Danish silent horror movie ‘Häxan’.

WATCH LIVE: All Round Poolcentrum, Thurs 19th Jan, 22:15-23:00

In January 2022 Ade Martin - until then known as the bassist for Madrid indie rockers Hinds - emerged under the moniker of Shanghai Baby. On her debut ‘EP01’ she takes us through the themes of young adult life in a vulnerable and striking way, and with a classic indie rock feeling. In her songs her seemingly-nonchalant vocals contrast with an abundance of energy and hooks.

WATCH LIVE: VERA, Thurs 19th Jan, 20:45-21:30


With their first eponymous album, ‘León Benavente’ released in 2013, the band - a union of some of the most reputable and veteran musicians of the national scene - needed very little time to place themselves on the bills of the main festivals and fill venues in both Spain, and on the other side of the Atlantic. Since then, they’ve released two albums (‘2’ in April 2016, and ‘Vamos a volvernos locos’ in September 2019), the latter of which became the second best-selling album in the country.

WATCH LIVE: Staddschouwburg, Friday 20th Jan, 18.00



Hailing from Vigo in northern Spain, Mundo Prestigio recently collaborated with Ortiga, Grande Amore and mariagrep on a series of groovy singles. A group made up of Ju, Brais, Fiz and Fer, they show spectacular flexibility on stage. Following its philosophy of "another day, another fresh beat", Mundo Prestigio's music comes inspired by soul and funk, and keeps evolving until it reaches so-called urban music, but always remains based on sampling techniques.

WATCH LIVE: Huize Maas (Front), Sat 21st Jan, 00:30-01:15

ZETAK aims for universal electronic music without renouncing the melody or the radiance of pop. The Navarrese group integrates modern rhythms and a touch of folklore through their Basque lyrics, while their sound has been defined as “electronica that intersects with a pop and melancholic universe in an outstanding album,” by Tomás F. Flores from Radio 3. On second album ‘Zeinen Ederra Izando Den’, synthetic sounds (filtered voices) coexist alongside tradition (txalapartas) and popular electronic music.

WATCH LIVE: News Cafe, Fri 20th Jan, 21:25-22:10


Q&A with César Andión

What goes into preparing for a country to be a focus country at ESNS?

It takes a lot of work coordinating a focus country with such an important event as ESNS who have been trying to have Spain as focus for years with no luck. It mainly has two parts:

1. Coordinating the artist selection with ESNS, plus the conference side which includes panel topic selection, panellists selection, coordinating their travelling, marketing, PR and all the special events [you have] as focus country such as The Spanish Lounge by Ticketmaster and Meet the Spaniards! Mixer & Fiesta, as well as The Spanish Wave Showcase.

2. Coordinating the project with the Spanish industry. We have invited everyone to be part of it in one way or another. The result is an amazing line-up of both artists and speakers / delegates from all parts of Spain and all sides of the Spanish Industry. The panel selection is mint, with a panel that will focus on the variety of our unique country in a regional and institutional way; another panel is on Spain as a festival nation, while the third is about the local and global successes of our strong recording, publishing, distributing and artists rights societies. It’s been hard work and a real challenge for many reasons. Our motto is “Spain Is Different”, but we are so happy and proud with the final outcome that we just want to be there to show the world industry things that they might not know and meet our professionals and the freshest new acts coming from España.

As a country, Spain has so many independent geographies and cultures; what's it like to plan for them to be represented under one banner? It’s a challenge, it’s complicated sometimes for some reasons many might know, such as regional-national strategics. We believe that this variety of cultures, languages, and music enriches Spain as a whole and makes it more attractive for us and for the international fan and industry.

What sort of challenges and opportunities have arisen through this?

Many challenges, especially explaining the project as a “united” project for the industry; we wanted as many people to be part of it as possible and we have an amazing representation of talent and industry; to be the focus at ESNS is nearly once in a lifetime. We search for opportunities for everyone attending from Spain; for artists to make business, be discovered, get publicity to bring home, and for professionals to expand their network of trade via Focus On Spain, we coordinate and put people together as industry leaders.

How important is it for Spanish music to be celebrated on stages like those at ESNS?

ESNS is the biggest or one of the biggest “screens” in Europe and the world, so to have the chance to play is a hit but then to be able to perform when your country is the focus and all eyes are on us is an amazing chance to export your talent in front of the best and most important pros in Europe.

How did you choose the artists who are showcasing at the festival?

They were chosen by the ESNS talent team with our consultancy. Our policy was first quality, young, fresh, real, export ready, variety of national origin, male/female equity, cool and exciting acts.

What’s it like seeing the Spanish music scene continue to grow in prominence as it has over the past few years?

For me, as someone that has been in the industry for more than 35 years and leads this project, it’s all pride and an honour. I started being a teen managing very underground Spanish acts and to see how much has developed in our scene, industry and interest is a bliss for us who love music in general, and I’m very proud as a Spaniard. There is so much interest on Spain at the moment, not only because global successes of Rosalia or C. Tangana, but because I think young people are more open-minded now than when I was young. They don’t care where the act is from, they use phones for music and the platforms don’t mention origin; plus, they are more open-minded in genres to listen and discover. Spain has always been “tagged” by internationals to more “roots” music, such as flamenco which is amazing and our flagship, but it’s more than that, as you will find at Focus On Spain. It’s so exciting to see young artists like Queralt Lahoz who has Andalucian and flamenco roots, but is making great urban music also connected to Latin Rumba/Salsa, or to see Tanxungueiras bringing Galician folk into modern electronic pop, etc. Seriously, our country is hot in music!

What do you hope Spain gets out of the experience, and in the future?

I hope the industry finds and discovers our variety in music not only because of our “multi country” country, languages and styles but because our industry is strong. We would love the international industry to meet and discover that Spain is more than Barcelona and Madrid in music industry infrastructure, with regions like Navarra having an amazing arena and scene, or incredible festivals across the nation.


Co-founder of the independent pop boutique label Siesta back in 1992, in 2010 Manuel went on to found Music As Usual, a full in-house services company for independent record labels in Spain & Portugal.

Current partners include City Slang, Dirty Hit, Domino and Warp.

SPEAKING ON: Spain: Record Labels, Publishers, Distributors and Rights Societies local & global cases of success Back 9, Thurs 19th Jan, 16:30-17:30


Catalan Arts

Mireia is the Music Project Manager at Catalan Arts - ICEC (Catalan Institute for Cultural Companies. Government of Catalonia), and connects, mentors and supports Catalan music companies interested in the international development of their projects.

SPEAKING ON: Spain: Land Of Many & Different Markets Back 9, Thurs 19th Jan, 12.00-13.00



With a background in private law from different Spanish law offices, she has been working as a lawyer for the collective management society of intellectual property rights, Artistas Intérpretes o Ejecutantes (AIE), since 2001. Since 2011, she has headed up the International Area of AIE’s Legal Department.

SPEAKING ON: Spain: Record Labels, Publishers, Distributors and Rights Societies local & global cases of success Back 9, Thurs 19th Jan, 16:30-17:30


Live Nation Spain

From his early days playing in psychedelic pop band Los Negativos, Robert Grima’s life has revolved around music and he has been one of the key pioneers in helping Spain become one of the must-visit destinations for international tours. With more than 30 years experience in live music, his Eurosonic keynote will delve into his life and career to explore what still drives his passion for live music; his unfaltering determination to care for his artists; and his unique vision and creativity that has helped Live Nation Madrid become one of the of the true powerhouse promoters in the global business.

SPEAKING ON: Keynote Interview with Robert Grima Back 9, Thurs 19th Jan, 13:30-14:30


Fundación SGAE

Rubén has been a part of the Fundación SGAE team since 1997, when the foundation was created. After coordinating the Studies and R&D department, he was named Director General. As a part of his career at SGAE, he has directed research on Performative Arts, Music and Audivisual Art, as well as studies on the cultural consumer practices and habits in Spain.

SPEAKING ON: Spain: Record Labels, Publishers, Distributors and Rights Societies local & global cases of success

Back 9, Thurs 19th Jan, 16:30-17:30


Mallorca Live Festival

Having had more than 20 years in the music and events industry, over the past seven years, Sebastián has worked as Artistic Director and Booking Manager of the Mallorca Live Festival, where he books three festivals - Mallorca Live Festival, Mallorca Live Summer and SONAR Mallorca (Un Sonar Village a S´horabaixa).

SPEAKING ON: Spain: State Of A Festival Nation

Front 1, Fri 20th Jan, 13:30-14:30


Institut Estudis Balearics / Fira B! With a background in literature and music performance, Xavier works as project manager at the Institut d'Estudis Baleàrics, the Balearic Islands regional government agency that promotes its culture outside of the islands. He also supervises the music side of Fira B, the music and performing arts showcasing festival of the Balearic Islands and spreads its message at showcase events across Europe.

SPEAKING ON: Spain: Land Of Many & Different Markets

Back 9, Thurs 19th Jan, 12.00-13.00

Having spent the better part of 35 years in the music industry in various different roles, César Andión is currently the head of emerging talent supporters The Spanish Wave, as well as the coordinator for this year’s Focus on Spain initiative. Here, he sheds a little light on exactly what has gone into Spain becoming ESNS’ focus country in 2023…
Join us at: Connecting, interacting and spreading Valencian music Valencian Music O ce Our projects: FIRA TROVAM Professional market and showcase festival
TIIM (Tourism & Music Industry) Professional convention focused on music and tourism industries |
VIU Promoting live music in local venues
A LA CIUTAT. Spreading live music at the city of València