The Battle of Santiago
Toronto-based group Battle of Santiago combines classic Afro-Cuban rhythms and vocals with a distinctly Canadian post-rock spirit and sensibility. The result is a wholly unique sound that tells a universal 21st Century story, transcending borders while staying rooted in one city’s immigrant experience.
“There are a couple of different Battles of Santiagos to choose from” explains the group’s founder Michael Owen. “there were a few in Cuba, mostly during the Spanish-American War, and there was even an infamous World Cup match in Chile that’s been given the name, too. So you can take your pick. We liked that ambiguity. It reflects how our music can change and take on different vibes. The name also implies some kind of soundclash, which works for us since the band has both a Latino section and a non-Latino section, and that dynamic can create a really exciting creative tension.”
While Canada is well-known for its thriving indie rock and electronic scenes, with acts as diverse as Grimes and Godspeed You Black Emperor, the country is seldom thought of as a Latin music hotbed. But Toronto hosts many thriving immigrant communities — including one of the largest Cuban expat communities in North America — and The Battle of Santiago is strongly rooted in the city’s wealth of Cuban musical talent.