Unveiling Barcelona’s dynamic electronic music duo, Desert 

Described by Sónar as “one of the most advanced names in our scene”

Cristina Checa at Sónar 2023
Cristina Checa at Sónar 2023 / Sónar

Kate Naessens | Barcelona

June 21, 2023 02:31 PM

June 21, 2023 05:09 PM

Cristina Checa and Eloi Caballé. Together, they make up Desert, an experimental music group that keep fans, critics, and electronic aficionados on their toes. 

The duo met while Checa was part of another band, Granit, of which Caballé was a producer. “Slowly we started working together and we saw that we had a lot of things in common,” Checa told Catalan News, “it was a very natural and organic way to work, and that was 10 years ago.”

Graphic from Desert's show at Sónar 2023
Graphic from Desert's show at Sónar 2023 / Kate Naessens

For the past decade, they have released a series of EP’s that explore a number of different genres and feels. This refusal to put themselves is reflected in their diverse influences. “We do not have a specific genre that we like or that we want to imitate. We are super eclectic, we like folk music, music from the 60s, electronic, pop, and dub. I am currently obsessed with jungle,” Checa said, “we listen to a lot of music, so we have a lot of influences, and we do not stick to a specific genre, and I believe this is embodied in our music, which has plenty of aspects.” 

Speaking about their audience, frontwoman Cris told Catalan News that Desert attracts a certain type of fan,“I think we are a special band for people. We don't have a large audience, but our fans are very much loyal fans because our lyrics and style reminds them of a lot of different genres they like. Normally we are liked by music nerds.” 

Eloi Caballé on stage at Sónar 2023
Eloi Caballé on stage at Sónar 2023 / Sónar

Even outside of making music to delight their typical listeners, the group released an album in 2020 called ‘This Feeling Is You’ alongside London hypnotherapist Jessica Boston. 


While the band had usually stuck to releasing singles and EP’s, this past year they released their first full album; Caos Sota el Cel. This 30 minute album takes a decidedly darker and more dramatic approach to communicating through music than some of their older works that emulate the ‘pop’ feel that Desert is often described as embodying. 

Promotional image for Desert's album Caos Sota el Cel
Promotional image for Desert's album Caos Sota el Cel / Desert

While their music taste spans a wide array of genres and even countries, Desert’s creativity is certainly fueled and nurtured by their upbringing in Catalonia. “Singing in Catalonia is our natural way, we haven't forced it, it's a natural thing,” Checa said “I speak this language, I like how it sounds.” One of their most popular releases, Sense Tu’s music video was filmed in the seaside town of Tarragona, only a short journey from Barcelona. 

Desert are determined to stay ever evolving. When preparing to perform Caos Sota el Cel for the first time at Sónar 2023, Checa knew they would have to turn their usual performance style on its head. “I have always played with Eloi. We usually have a large DJ set with plenty of equipment, and I was embarrassed and hid behind all the equipment,” she said. “But this album required having a frontwoman as the album has a lot of singing, and while we were preparing the sets, it came to a point that taking into account we make music as if we were in a lab, I said: 'Now do I have to load all these sounds to a machine? So I said ‘let’s sing it!’. Then I panicked afterwards. I always sing sitting, I'm very static for these kinds of songs. Starting out I experienced a lot of stage fright.”

With the help of friend and dancer Ana Hierro, Checa started learning how to carry herself and move about on stage. 

Desert at Sónar 2023
Desert at Sónar 2023 / Sónar

Their Sónar set featured a variety of other collaborations to make Desert’s vision come to life. 3-D visual art by Boldtron, lighting design by Oscila Studio and AI visuals by Krea all played a role in the development of the set and performance. Joan of Arc turned out to be a major inspiration for the group. “When I was composing I was not thinking of Joan of Arc, but in the 'post’, once the album was done, the visual ideas for videos, music videos and so on sparked the surge of this character” Checa said.

While others may have approached taking to the stage at Sónar with more apprehension, Desert is not at all unfamiliar with the festival and enjoys the atmosphere that surrounds it.  “This is not the first time that we have played at Sónar. Sónar has been linked to our careers as artists and they have given us a lot of opportunities,” Checa said, “for us, Sónar is our home.”