In our Western world obsessed with Grammys and Katy Perry, it’s easy to forget that music is a global entity, and Britain and America aren’t necessarily at the centre of that. You see, there’s this band – a Chilean punk band called Los Prisioneros, and we think you need to hear about them.
Back in the 1980s, Los Prisioneros, in a similar style to British punk bands like The Clash, introduced their ska,reggae and funk influenced punk sound to the people. Their music held what made punk so special – the aggression, the raw energy, that necessity to say whatever you want without a care for the consequences. Except, for bands in 1980s Chile, the consequences were a lot more real than they were for bands over here; people were killed on a daily basis for opposing the dictatorship that was imposed upon the country.
Because of this dictatorship oppression, inequality and censorship were rife across Chile throughout the ‘80’s, and so it was no real surprise that the band’s music was banned from 1985 when their songs were seen as ‘protest songs’ against the government. But it says something about the passion of the Chilean people, and the importance of this band, that their popularity did not wane. Instead, illegal homemade cassettes were made and spread nationwide, meaning that when the dictatorship was eventually overthrown in 1990 in favour of democracy, Los Prisioneros came out of it even more popular than ever.
Watching 150,000 excitable Chileans scream every word along to the phenomenal Sexo (see above) makes you wonder why this band is practically unheard of anywhere else in the world. But still, learning about the way this band was used as a flagship for the protests mounted against the Dictatorship, and the way people risked their freedom every single day to spread Los Prisioneros’ message and music, restores your faith in the fact that maybe music can change the world. Bit by bit
So shed all of your preconceptions about foreign music and the fact you ‘can’t understand what they’re saying’, forget about the shallowness of modern popular culture and let the glorious sounds of Los Prisioneros take over your senses – they might just become your new favourite band.