Hong Kong gigs

DJ Shadow, Ellen Allien, Dave Clarke – Sónar announces stellar line-up for Hong Kong debut

As well as a broad spectrum of pioneering electronic music artists and acts from the cutting edge, the inaugural Hong Kong date of the Barcelona-based event will also celebrate digital culture and visual art in all its variety

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 07 February, 2017, 9:02pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 08 February, 2017, 10:46am

The debut Hong Kong edition of Sónar – the pioneering electronic music and digital culture festival, first launched in Barcelona in 1994 – will present the biggest line-up of electronic music artists and DJs ever seen in the city.

The main acts announced today for the festival at Hong Kong Science Park near Tai Po on April 1 include US hip-hop DJ/producer DJ Shadow, British jazz/funk/world music DJ and radio host Gilles Peterson, UK grime star Lady Leshurr, British techno pioneer Dave Clarke and German electronic music icon Ellen Allien.

Since it was founded in Barcelona, Sónar has grown into the world’s foremost celebration of electronic music. Over the course of three days every June, Sónar Barcelona showcases the world’s leading electronic music acts – previous headliners have included the likes of The Chemical Brothers, Pet Shop Boys and LCD Soundsystem – and promotes digital culture and visual arts through the Sónar+D programme of daytime conferences and workshops.

Sónar made its first international foray to London in 2002 and has since travelled to cities such as New York, Seoul, Chicago, Hamburg, Buenos Aires and São Paulo. Sónar is now seen as one of Barcelona's greatest cultural exports and in a sign of its importance to the Catalonian capital, the city's deputy mayor, Jaume Collboni, will be flying out for the Hong Kong event. 

Sónar Hong Kong is being organised by Magnetic Asia, the same team behind the annual Clockenflap Music and Arts Festival. Tickets will be HK$180 for the Sónar+D programme only, and HK$780 for all music performances and the Sónar+D programme.

Sónar, Barcelona’s influential festival of electronic music and visual art, is coming to Hong Kong

“There will be six stages and over 50 artists performing from across the electronic spectrum, from house to hip hop to experimental and beyond. I can’t think of any other event where all these focused elements and communities have come together on this kind of scale here before,” says Magnetic Asia music director Justin Sweeting.

“We’ve worked very closely with the team in Barcelona to ensure that the line-up is positioned at the cutting edge of the electronic landscape by including both pioneering artists with strong historical significance alongside truly exciting, fresh new talent.”

Of the main artists, DJ Shadow will be appearing in Hong Kong as he celebrates his own milestone of historical significance – the 20th anniversary of the release of his seminal trip hop album, Endtroducing … . Meanwhile, Dave Clarke will be marking almost a quarter-century at the forefront of the global techno movement, while Gilles Peterson will be celebrating three decades of spinning his unique mix of acid jazz, funk and world music on BBC Radio and at clubs worldwide.

Adding a contemporary flavour to the line-up are Lady Leshurr, one of the standout figures in the revitalised UK grime movement, crossover English electronic duo Gorgon City, and Mind Against, two Italian brothers who are rising stars in the global techno scene.

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Other international artists include Scottish bass music DJ/producer Kode9, eclectic Italian-born house music artist DJ Tennis, and experimental British producer Evian Christ. They will be joined by the cream of the local DJ scene, including Ocean Lam, Frankie Lam, the Fragrant Harbour Soundsystem, and Choi Sai-ho.

While Magnetic Asia is best known for organising the Clockenflap festival, the company’s managing director Mike Hill points out how Sónar will be different from Hong Kong’s biggest annual music and arts festival.

“Sonar uniquely brings together cutting-edge electronic music across multiple stages and marries it to a congress of creativity, technology and business. It offers a unique opportunity for festivalgoers to experience the entire life cycle of the creative process in an accessible way – from discovering new products at the prototype stage to attending masterclasses by artists and creative luminaries to enjoying the live performances themselves.”

Because of the city’s maturing electronic music scene and its fast adoption of creative technologies, Hill believes Hong Kong is now ready for Sónar.

“Hong Kong has an ever-growing electronic music scene and the creative technologies are very much in the spotlight right now, so we saw the opportunity to get everyone together,” he says. “We planned to create a festival modelled on the Sónar experience and as we worked on the plans it did not make sense to try to replicate Sónar – we simply had to do Sónar in Hong Kong.

“Sónar has the cultural significance, the programming pedigree and the production quality that is aligned with what we wanted to achieve. “

About 80,000 people attend Sónar Barcelona every year, while tens of thousands more come to the city for the satellite events and showcases that proliferate around the main event. In 2015 the festival contributed 72 million (HK$630 million) to the city’s economy.

Sónar Hong Kong, April 1, 11am-3am, Hong Kong Science Park, New Territories, HK$180 (Sónar+D programme only), HK$780 (all music performances and Sónar+D programme). For more information, visit