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Sofia Kourtesis Creates Deeply Personal House as Debut Album Looms

Berlin-based, Peruvian-born DJ and producer Sofia Kourtesis has never shied away from weaving her own heritage into the unique brand of house music she creates. But as she builds towards her biggest project yet, she’s also stepping into the spotlight—adding her own voice to the already rich toolbox.

Career Beginnings on a Pair of EPs

Sofia Kourtesis first burst onto the scene with her self-titled debut EP. A four-track effort that spans just short of 25 minutes, it begins with “Lana Gaye,” a house track that collages together unorthodox SFX and instrumentation in its composition. In place of the prototypical percussion is a drum-circle back-and-forth that sets the tempo, and instead of the usual sample chops you’ll find in DJ mixes abound on SoundCloud, Kourtesis contorts a Spanish-language vocal phrase in multiple different ways. The first split seconds of the song come in quick succession to create an almost white noise presence, before again cropping up later in the track, played forward and in reverse back-to-back for the main melody.

This description honestly doesn’t do it justice—but it does speak to the raw creativity on display on even Kourtesis’ earliest releases. Accessible and mainstream cuts like “Trains & Airports” are more similar to house music writ large in their structure, but emotionally are wistful and reflective, qualities that placed the Peruvian DJ in the “outsider house” category towards the onset of her career.

Sofia Kourtesis, Peruvian house DJ, in a photo taken during a 2021 tour. Taken from @sofiakourtesis on Instagram.
Taken from @sofiakourtesis on Instagram.

Saita Colonia EP Hints At Breakout Potential

From there came the Saita Colonia EP, itself an extension around the 2020 single of the same name that the DJ dropped in the aftermath of Sofia Kourtesis. Again, the first track proves instructive here. “Saira Colonia” kicks in the door with boomy bass sections that carry its early moments, before bright, reflective synths and a Duck Sauce-esque sample flip enter the mix. In these first official releases, the tone of Kourtesis’ music is sprawling in the best of ways, where electronic phrases are left to repeat for extended periods as textural, often psychedelic additions filter in. While most of that material lacks lyrics in a traditional sense, that atmosphere was a point of emphasis for the DJ in its construction. Speaking to NME, she said, “[those] EPs were about happiness and losing it and three-day raves with my best friends.”

In contrast, she adopted a different approach moving into the next leg of her catalog. In that same interview, she mused, “[I] had to be more about reflecting on my life — it was a big step to be without my samples or machines talking for me.” We would see her true breakout come with the music she was hinting at: the final EP in the trilogy, 2021’s Fresia Magdalena.

Sofia Kourtesis’ Breakout with Fresia Magdalena

It spawned her as-yet biggest track, “By Your Side,” which is decidedly retro in its makeup. A lo-fi record crackle is heard throughout, and the track kicks off with a last-century radio host announcing, “I’m sure you’ll remember this song: it’s an old one, ‘I Only Have Eyes For You.'” It’s an intentionally nostalgic addition that adds to the all-around inviting atmosphere at play, another lush, long single in the DJ’s arsenal. On top of garnering positive press, the Fresia Magdalena project attracted the attention of major players in the electronic scene—including Flume, who would go on to tab Kourtesis as an opener on his Palaces tour.

All of that has built to Kourtesis’ debut album, Madres, which is currently slated for release on October 27th. “Madres,” dropped in March, was the earliest taste of the project we got, notable for how it casts aside the analog feel of Sofia’s earlier singles in favor of some seriously dazzling synth work. Kourtesis herself provides vocals as well—a then-unheard-of aspect. With its title and album art, it also continues a theme of family tributes in her music, something that began with tributes to her late father on Fresia Magdalena. All told, 5 tracks from the album are out, which are all equally impressive and addictive. While we wait for the project’s official release at the end of the month, go seek those out—you can find them on all streaming platforms.

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