VALENCIA is famous for many things: paella, oranges, the Fallas, its beaches, the nightlife… and music.
Popular music in the region took on a life of its own in the 90s. First the (in)famous Ruta del Bakalao clubbing craze swept Valencia Province in an orgy of sleepless weekends, drugs and electronic beats, before giving way to a new breed altogether.
Led by now legendary names such as Obrint Pas from Valencia city and La Gossa Sorda from Pego (Alicante), the combination of punk, ska and reggae with traditional Valencian instruments such as the dolçaina – a type of flute or clarinet – made for a highly danceable and festive sound with lyrics usually celebrating local culture and rural life.
A guaranteed hit at summer fiestas throughout the Valencia region, in later years these bands – plus others directly inspired by them such as La Raiz from Gandia, Desgavell from Oliva and Aspencat from Jalon – broke out into a much wider audience in Spain and beyond, headlining major festivals and selling out stadiums such as the Palau Sant Jordi in Barcelona.
With most of the aforementioned bands now split up or on extended hiatuses, a new generation has stepped up to the mic – and one young group in particular is making huge waves throughout the country.
Zoo – also known as Zoo Posse – from Gandia (La Safor, Valencia Province) were formed in 2014, adding rap, breakbeat and electronic elements, plus a trombone and saxophone, to a rock and ska base while maintaining the protest and socially aware lyrics of punk.
This week it was announced that Zoo’s third album, Llepolies (‘Sweets’ in valenciano) is currently the 10th most sold record in Spain, ahead of international reggaeton superstars such as Bad Bunny, J Balvin and Ozuna.
The astounding news was made public by Spanish Music Promoters association Promusicae, who every week publish the list of biggest-selling artists in the country.
And the six young musicians from the capital of La Safor have managed it totally independently, through their own record label Zoo Records and without having their album on sale at high-street shopping centres.
Not only that, but Zoo has achieved the feat in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic and crisis, and at a time when record sales – especially CDs – are at an all-time low due to a widespread change in listening habits triggered by platforms such as Youtube and Spotify.
This is a band that also sells out all their concert tickets as soon as they announce new tour dates, including two shows at Valencia’s open-air Marina scheduled for June 5 and 6.
Analysts suggest several keys for this success, including an effective marketing campaign, the inclusion of elements that are currently popular among young people such as combining hip hop with electronic music, their unpretentious lyrics and attitude, and of course the groundwork laid before them by trailblazers such as Obrint Pas and La Gossa Sorda.
Furthermore, the second best-selling album this week is La pequeña semilla (‘The small seed’) by Alba Reche, from Elche (Alicante Province), beaten only by the omnipresent Madrid rapper C Tangana but above releases by Justin Bieber, Dua Lipa and many others.
Alba’s big break came after claiming second place in Spanish television talent show Operacion Triunfo in 2018.