"I've been in Miami for four years. And I feel there's not as much diversity in music you can see here as in other big cities I've lived in like New York or Bogotá," Julian Duque tells New Times.
Instead of stewing about not seeing enough musical variety on local concert calendars, Duque decided to do something about it, starting Unsin Music Festival & Conference. The event returns for its second year on Saturday, May 13, at Oasis Wynwood.
"Since the pandemic, there's been so many new people moving to Miami. A lot of them are seeking cultural diversity," Duque says. "I want to show them all that our city can offer in music and arts from an independent perspective."
The first Unsin (pronounced unseen) took place in November and featured 20 musical acts. Duque says organizers expected 500 attendees, and more than 2,000 people showed up.
There are three pillars to the 2023 edition of Unsin. The first is arts and culture, the second is education, and the third is music. The art aspect will include a pop-up gallery featuring 20 local artists, while the educational aspect will feature six panels.
"One is the Unsin Shakers, where we'll showcase six people doing artistic things in the community. We have another workshop about crafting musical product, another about TikTok. TikTok is controversial. Some people love it, some hate it, but in the end, it's a tool we want to teach artists how to use," Duque says. "Miami has a few universities that teach music business, but those students don't have networking opportunities. We want this to be a space for networking to grow the business of music in Miami."
The music aspect takes center stage with 15 acts, including psych-rock band Jaialai, Spanish-language troubadour Musiana, the Latin-pop of Vale, and Mexican singer-songwriter Arath Herce.
"We have a curation team," Duque says of the lineup. "We went to see the artists perform live to see if they could put on a good show. We wanted lots of genres: pop, rock, R&B, Afrobeats, electronic, reggaeton. There are so many emerging artists in Miami. We did an open call and had over 80 submissions. Artists from the U.S., Nigeria, Jamaica, all over Latin America — really all over the world. It's like the music industry had moved to Miami."
Oscar Sardiñas of the band Jaialai says he's excited to take part in the conference.
"Jaialai has been working on some new material, so we haven't been playing out much as of late," Sardiñas says. "We're really excited about this show in particular because it's our first public outing this year. So expect the unexpected. We're most looking forward to sharing the stage with all the amazing and diverse artists on this sweet, sweet lineup."
Duque is hopeful Unsin can be an annual tradition that South Florida can look forward to every year with its concert, seminars, and pop-up market.
"Miami is so different since the pandemic. There's so many new people, new restaurants, new activities. We want this to be something we can do every year, but we need support. It's $20 if you buy a ticket the day before the event. We wanted to keep it affordable so people can come and take advantage of this."
Unsin Music Festival & Conference. Noon Saturday, May 13, at Oasis Wynwood, 2355 N. Miami Ave., Miami; oasiswynwood.com. Tickets cost $20 to $50 via tixr.com.