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Gerardo Alfonso -
Artist info
Gerardo Alfonso

Gerardo Alfonso

Gerardo Alfonso

Nostalgia for the friends who are not here anymore, a kiss to the city, a reverence for the most popular street character of Havana, a complaint, a protest, a love gift, a laugh: are some of the ingredients of Gerardo Alfonso’s songs, a musician who manages to talk about sadness and happiness with the same intensity. Since he started to compose and play, accompanied by a guitar in the 80’s, he became an idol of the young university people and of the followers of the songs that make people think Read more on
Nostalgia for the friends who are not here anymore, a kiss to the city, a reverence for the most popular street character of Havana, a complaint, a protest, a love gift, a laugh: are some of the ingredients of Gerardo Alfonso’s songs, a musician who manages to talk about sadness and happiness with the same intensity. Since he started to compose and play, accompanied by a guitar in the 80’s, he became an idol of the young university people and of the followers of the songs that make people think, Alfonso has not done anything else than to sing to love. As well as inspire himself in the love of the couples, a motive nobody is saved of, he has represented the conflict of his generation, born in the first decade of he Cuban revolution, that grow up among symbols myths and social and ideological radicalization, but above everything, among dreams and contradictions, he moved to the pentagram in an authentic way, in form of questions, astonishments, cries in the dark or protests against the extreme, the absurd and the intolerance. His work is full of a contagious lyricism and of an energy that seems to be endless in the spirit of Alfonso, who in his almost 50 years old, exhibit it without any effort. He is an skilful composer in dominating and exploiting different musical genres and he even experiments and creates some of them. But it seems music ha not satisfied his creative thirst and he has written several script that will try to take to the cinema, once he studies direction, a project he has postponed already for several years, due to the lack of time, but it is there, crouched down, ready to jump from its hidden place.

In this conversation, Gerardo Alfonso explains the keys of his musical work, talks about immediate plans, wishes, unfulfilled goals and dreams, some of the ingredients that have given sense to his life as a human and as a creator. Are there generic news in what you are doing now? Are you moving in musical circles that are wider than the ones you were in previous records? Well, actually I’m working in several record projects, three of them are ready to be recorded now.. but what happens is that between my needs and the needs of the record companies there is a difference of interest and I don’t know when I will be able to record them. Each one of these three projects are independent, they don’t have any generic relationship among them, each one is conceived with each own stile, each own topic and sound, but were I answer your question related to the “wider circle” is in the group of the three projects, I don’t know if you understand me. The variety and musical, sound and topic richness in the group is very strong and that is why I need to record it as soon as possible and as closer as possible one from another, breaking the commercial code of promotion and sales, to the detriment of the traditional forms of selling and in favor of art, the entertaining, the social communication, the creation and the renovation.

There are other pending works that might even be released before this three I commented and, well, the Leyendas Camagüeyanas that need only to do the master. Which subjects stimulated you in these works? The record La Cima, that is ready to burn, is of guayasones, of guayason genre and talks generally about my point of view about that peak, we all what to reach, the difficulties to arrive there, what we expect from it and what we found, but this record is full of meticulous observations and twists around the topic. Diosas y Dioses, of the genre O´changa, is a finished project, that need only the arrangements and recording and talks about some sacred icons that positively or negatively people recognize, such as love, money, and others. Parece divertido, is in similar conditions, ready to be produced. It is a generically eclectic, mostly pop record; it has ballads, funk, beat and other things of the genre. This material is basically social in its content, the nowadays reality, without any restrictions, with my modesty and ethic, off course, but very uninhibited. La ruta del esclavo, is a record I’m doing right now, I have some themes yet to finish, but is a very deep work and I think I need more information, as well as a proper state of mind, to reflect it in songs with sincerity, certainties and credibility. Another work that is still in its beginnings is Habaneras, about the marital conflicts, based in the experiences love and lack of affection taught in me and in famous stories. Are Cuba and the Cubans in many of your songs? Cuba and the Cubans are present in every song. What time did you need to do these records? I work simultaneously in different projects, it is complex and simple at the same time, I have very strong and persistent motivations towards the improvement of the themes or of the album and a practice to my own creative development and constantly opens new roads, then I select the best themes, the ones are more related between each other and those conform the record, therefore, there is no fixed time between the start and the end of the record. It happens that even the day when I start recording there are changes and substitution of themes, but more or less I spend three years working to finish. In one of your resent records you have a song about the friends who are not here for different reasons.

While you were composing that song, did you reach any conclusion you have not written? Do you regularly think about friends? When I was doing the record you are talking about A orillas del mar, I went back to the 70’s to refresh my teenage, from those memories I took practically the whole material I needed for the record, I even left lost of things aside, perhaps they are part some day of A Orillas...2,but obviously the memories of my friends came out and what they meant and what the mean to me, the ones are not here, the ones I still preserve. I don’t have any conclusion about it, I think a lot about them and about me in other circumstances, because the circumstance in which we are living are the ones that modifies us, or actual define us. There is a cliché question in the interviews to composers that gave place to certain poses by the interviewees; I hope it will not be your case: Do you suffer when you compose themes such like the one about the friends? Do you remember other songs, with which you have suffered, you have been sad? In many cases the suffering or pain is there before you are doing a song and in some cases to do the song is to expurgate yourselves, is to alleviate, is to consulate, is to empty, to clean yourselves. To do the song is then, work and enjoyment, as when you are playing chess or the Rugby Cube. What was the use of the concerts you made with the symphonic orchestra two years ago? I loved them, they full my ego, the liberated me from the prejudice of the cult and the popular art, they liberated me from the concept that the people, the masses, do not understand this things, I think they understood me very well and it wasn’t like that, they enjoy it; sometimes it is not necessary to understand, just to feel. I learned a lot, from the professionalism of the Cuban symphonic musicians and from the current orchestration and I saw the light, I see the light and I urge every creator to experiment it because it is impressive. Does the union with a symphonic orchestra demands a lot from an interpreter? Off course, you are not a guy accompanied by a piano or a guitar, it is a whole army of synchronized sounds, interweaved behind you, under the lead of a director and in front of scores that do not wait fro your loose of concentration or entertainment and for all those sounds to be harmonic, they must be tuned and if you are not tuned, you are the “Ugly Duck”. Which other formats that you have not tried, would you love to try? I would love to work with the guitar orchestra of Jesus Ortega, i would love exclusively with wind instruments, with percussion only and well in the way with the endless experimental combinations the art suggests. You have said that you have several movie scripts and that you would love to direct.

When the cinema started to interest you in a professional way? Do you trust yourselves directing a movie? To direct are capital words, due to the lack of time for such an experience I’m not in conditions to do it right now. As a child I was a compulsive movie – going. Later on, in the journey I’ve lived experiences that seemed to be interesting to tell and that a song was not enough, so I decided to write something like a script. I don’t think it is a script yet, but to conceive its form I used many examples and even theatre plays I could obtain, one of them was “Mother Courage” by Brecht.

Then, I wrote these ideas in a script form, some are in a novel form, some in stories, an so on, sometimes not far in the future, I will finish the first one. There are three main stories; the one that should be finished at first is called “Dreadlocks”, then there are “Memorias de la secundaria” and “La Bata Roja”. At that point when I saw the movie in my head, for example “La Bata Roja”, I thought that I need to directed myself, or somebody very, very close to me, who understand what I want to say and how I want to say and, well, with the enthusiasm thousand ideas came up. I wrote some of them and I think I have to shape this direction since those are things, so far I have never seen in the cinema and I want to be myself who put its in the big screen.

However, we have to take the objectivity into account, the reality that is “money is everything”. In this XXI century, the technology has had such a development that it is possible to make low budget movies with digital cameras that do not cost over USD-1,000.00. Off course, we will have to make the movie with several cameras and with photographic ideas and a solid and new cinematographic language, it means a creative one. Off course it can be made! As a matter of fact, many filmmakers have used these resources. However, I will have to study direction and advising not to be an improvised. Have you taken the themes of these scripts to the pentagram? No, but most likely I will write original themes for these cinematographic works. Do you like to make incursions into other arts? Apart from the literary, painting. Have you already painted or draw? From time to time in my life, when I was very young, when I was not making songs yet.

But I like the painting very much and from time to time I represent myself scenes and figures that I can not capture in a song, because they are very concrete and very metaphoric at the same time. I don’t have a pulse to paint what I represent, for example, thinking in Rene Magrit, I would love to tell our reality with the codes with which he painted, but with the Caribbean, socialist magic difference that is our reality, where the own initiative of the people to resolve their problems exceeds you. If this was not real and concrete life, it would seem surrealism. Also the paranoid concept – critic of Dali, applied to the popular speech, the slang full of rich plastic images, ideal to paint. You are still an observer of the life in Cuba.

Your resent records testuify it. Have the critical songs you have made along your career, served of anything else than an escape valve? Yes, I think that if I had not written those songs I’ve made, even the love ones, I would be crazy, with its subsequent consequences. 2007-11-15 Read more on User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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