Sofia Kourtesis has announced her debut album Madres will be released on 27 October on Ninja Tune. Along with the announcement she has shared lead single 'Si Te Portas Bonito'.
Madres is, unsurprisingly, dedicated to Kourtesis' mother. More surprising though it is also dedicated to world-renowned neurosurgeon Peter Vajkoczy. The story of how a world-renowned neurosurgeon came to appear in the liner notes of this record is one of tenacity, miracles, all-consuming love and ultimately, of hope.
When she began work on her debut, Kourtesis was seemingly unstoppable. A string of rapturously received EPs and singles made her one of the fastest rising stars in the electronic world and beyond. She has already graced the cover of Mixmag, released a brilliantly energetic and moving Resident Advisor ‘RA Session’, appeared on ‘End of Year’ lists from the likes of The New York Times, Pitchfork, DJ Mag and Spotify (#6 Best Electronic Song) and played instant sell-out early shows at London’s Lafayette and Manchester’s YES as well as standout performances at Glastonbury, Green Man, Wide Awake and Primavera and tours supporting Caribou and Bicep.
In amongst touring and working though, Kourtesis was rushing home to Peru at any opportunity to be with her mother, who some months after the passing of her father – the subject of Kourtesis’ breakout single ‘La Perla’ – had been diagnosed with cancer and was deteriorating rapidly. "Doctors were all the time calling me to say goodbye to her, for months", she recalls.
Refusing to lose hope, Kourtesis had spoken to every doctor she could get hold of and all of them told her chances were low, operation was too risky. Having read about Vajkoczy but knowing he was in incredibly high demand, in desperation she posted a music snippet on social media, promising to dedicate the track to Vajkoczy for just a few minutes of his time. Unbelievably he responded and agreed to meet. Vajkoczy agreed to operate. The operation was a success and Kourtesis’s mother’s life is extended further than anyone could have possibly hoped.
With her mother now well and living nearby in Berlin, Kourtesis had her life back. Madres is the product of that life. Though it contains shades of the struggle of those years and her own mental health journey, Madres is joyful, awash with warm light and brimming with "hope and the value that big love can create miracles". It’s filled with the minutiae of life that Kourtesis didn’t have time or energy for; going out with friends, dating, dancing, eating, living. Vaikoczy became part of this world, an avid music fan himself he became something of a sounding board for the album and Kourtesis even took him on his first trip to Berghain.
Madres also contains everything that has made Kourtesis so beloved already. The dual sounds of her Peruvian home and her adopted home in Berlin are present ("my heart is very Latin American, but my motor is German"), as is the activism surrounding gender equality, protection of queer people and access to safe abortions in Peru that is so close to her heart. Having left Peru herself due to being ostracised, and ultimately forced into conversion therapy for her queerness, Kourtesis hadn’t spoken about the real reason she left Peru before but now she hopes her music and words will resonate with others, her experience sadly, infuriatingly, still commonplace.