This was a comment made by Sergio Caballero, one of the three founders of the Sonar festival, Sergio Caballero, when talking in an interview with Vice magazine about the posters used for the festival. It is also a neat summary of the spirit that has guided one of the world’s most audacious festivals of advanced music since its foundation. Created in the aftermath of Barcelona’s Olympic Games from the ideas of the journalist Ricard Robles and musicians and visual artists Enric Palau and Sergio Caballero, this year Sonar is celebrating its 25th anniversary, a quarter of a century resisting ennui through innovation.


The first edition was held in the Centre de Cultura Contemporània of Barcelona (CCCB), with names that are now legendary figures in electronic music, such as Holger Czukay, Laurent Garnier and Sven Vath. The years that followed saw a roster of artists that reads today like a Hall of Fame of electronic music. A quick look at a list of the headlining acts from each edition will tell us a lot about how Sonar has developed:

  • 1994: Sven Väth

    Actuación de Chemical Brothers – Ariel Martini

  • 1995: Kenny Larkin
  • 1996: Ken Ishii
  • 1997: Roger Sánchez
  • 1998: Jeff Mills
  • 1999: Kruder & Dorfmeister
  • 2000: Matthew Herbert
  • 2001: Aphex Twin
  • 2002: Pet Shop Boys
  • 2003: Björk
  • 2004: Richie Hawtin
  • 2005: Chemical Brothers
  • 2006: Laurent Garnier
  • 2007: Beastie Boys
  • 2008: 2Many DJs
  • 2009: Orbital
  • 2010: DJ Hell
  • 2011: Paul Kalkbrenner
  • 2012: New Order
  • 2013: Kraftwerk
  • 2014: Massive Attack
  • 2015: Autechre
  • 2016: Fatboy Slim
  • 2017: Justice


Listen to the 2018 playlist


While the big names that have graced the posters of the different editions are a Who’s Who of the most creative and transgressive artists on the music scene in recent decades, the image of the festival has never been far behind. The promotional posters for each edition have been outstanding statements on their own merit, presenting intriguing, disturbing, surprising and wonderfully varied images. Sergio Caballero has been the brains behind them all, blending imaginary worlds with real figures such as Diego Armando Maradona and El Dioni, or even his own family.

The imaginary of Sonar

To celebrate the 25 years of the festival, a retrospective exhibition is being held with the best work from the different editions of Sonar. With the title “Ni Flyers ni pósters” [Neither flyers nor posters], the Tecla Sala Art Centre of l’Hospitalet is displaying a selection from the different themes that have figured in the campaigns between 24 May and 23 June. 70 iconic works are distributed in 10 rooms, inviting the visitor to enter this remarkable universe with its own particular cult figures and venerable objects.