The earliest material from this Peruvian-born, Berlin-based house producer and DJ is aimed firmly at the dancefloor. By the time she released 2021′s Fresia Magdalena EP, Sofia Kourtesis began to incorporate a meditative side to her sound alongside a family-inspired political agenda.
Kourtesis grew up in Magdalena, a coastal district of the city of Lima where the sea was a calming influence and simultaneously provided the opportunity to surf. Both her parents were active politically, fighting the cause of the poor. Her father represented the underprivileged as a lawyer while her mother fought for the poor as a politician and social worker. The free-thinking nature that this instilled in Kourtesis sat awkwardly with the strict rules at convent school. She was soon expelled, and — at 17 — decided to pursue a more liberal environment, moving to Berlin to study film. The following year she found herself in a short-lived hip-hop outfit, but within a few years, Kourtesis was dividing her time studying between Hamburg and New York. During this period, she became the booker for Hamburg clubs such as Prinzenbar and Docks, before she began performing her own DJ sets. After settling back in Berlin, it was her romantic involvement with Gold Panda — to whose 2013 LP, Half of Where You Live, she contributed — that inspired her to make electronic music.
Released on Sweden’s Studio Barnhus, her first two EPs — March 2019′s Sofia Kourtesis and February 2020′s Sarita Colonia — were colorful party records, full of thumping bass and choice film samples. The latter EP — named after the Peruvian patron of the poor, whose image graced each of her early releases — gave her career a boost and led to Kourtesis being tipped for success by numerous publications. Between that release and March 2021′s Fresia Magdalena EP on Ninja Tune’s Technicolour imprint, she lost her father to leukemia. Not only did the record pay tribute to him — particularly the lead track “La Perla” on which she sang of the sea — but its title was a nod to her mother, Fresia, and the work that she continued to do for the people of Magdalena. ~ James Wilkinson