In these fifteen years of work, Buena Fe has redirected its essence. “Before we used to throw rocks to see what came out. Now our way of projecting the art, instead of pursuing the Hit Parade, has found other ways to distribute music for it to reach to the public, but especially those who care about what we do. “
“I have no frustrations as an artist. Every year I have reason to write songs, “Israel Rojas also says in this interview, published two days before Buena Fe performs in the Miami Dade County Auditorium, with singer-songwriter Frank Delgado, for a concert in tribute to Cuban cinema.
Hopefully this concert, away from planting reasons for the isolation and dissection of an already hit Cuba, serve to unite all the shores in the same country, to make it closer in time.
The concert will be an apology to Cuban cinema. What will the repertoire be?
The music will go through some essential passages of Cuban cinema and iconic actors like Reinaldo Miravalles, Sergio Corrieri. It will reflect the films of directors like Titón, Frank Padrón and parts of different cartoons, which are now part of the popular cultural heritage of Cubans. It will also be the most contemporary of our cinema.
It is an attempt to mix the art with music, with songs such as Pi 3,14, Catalejo, Melesio tenía razón, La otra orilla, and some releases of what will be in the next album.
It will be a concert almost two hours we did in Cuba three or four years ago and musically reflects much of what we have done in the last fifteen years.
You invited Frank Delgado, composer who has made the soundtrack of a few films, shorts, documentaries.
Speaking of Cuban cinema, what do you think of the old argument that the contemporary Cuban cinema is dead, that for many years ago there hasn’t been a Cuban movie worthwhile, that will transcend?
I’m hearing that since I was born. It is a rather fatalistic omen. I think that, either for better or worse, every so often a movie comes out that makes us proud, and many others that are forgettable. That same is also said about contemporary Cuban music, Cuban contemporary literature.
Will I have to do with the old cliché that the past was better?
It may have to do with the fact that Cubans are very critical of our own reality and what we do. Some people hear the Van Van now, after Formell died. When he was alive, people said it did not sound the same.
I do not know what’s in the Cuban refusal to acknowledge what shines in due course. Sometimes we have wonderful things in front of our faces and we do not see them. Time has to go by to have them legitimized. Or an outsider comes to tell us that something is good to us to see it that way.
What’s the worst that could happen to Buena Fe concert Thursday at the Miami Dade County Auditorium?
The worst that can happen is a tremendous flu scourge me to prevent me from using my best tool, which is this voice, to sing the songs that I think to bring to the audience in the theater that day.
Maybe I overlooked a small introduction: with the tensions generated by cultural exchange of Cuban groups like Buena Fe in local scenarios in Miami, what’s the worst that could happen in the Miami Dade County Auditorium on the eighteenth?
The worst that could happen is flu prevents me from singing to the only person that goes to the theater that day.
Obviously there is no such tension with all Cuban artists playing in scenarios in Miami. Buena Fe is credited strong political militancy. Do you consider yourself a political activist?
Everyone has some political position, some with more participation, others less. I simply make my songs, and my main political activism is in them. Of course I have an active participation in the society in which I live in my neighborhood, with my colleagues, with my family.
But I’m not exactly a politician; I just do not do that. I do not make my living doing politics as a profession. Nor am I an apolitical, not someone who flees to the term. I am part of a society that cannot escape politics as any other society.
The problem is not in politics itself, but the positions taken in a city like Miami, where the media are quite aggressive in approaching at the time of addressing trends and painting things as good and bad, as if they could paint world into good and bad, with no gray.
In Miami they only see you with good eyes those media and those groups who hear you say what they want to hear. And every day I have more desire to say what they do not want to hear. Because every time you say what you think they say you are a slave to someone that preconditions you. I say what I think. If tomorrow I change my feeling, I’ll say it too.
Because it cannot be that every time you say something in favor of things in this country, you’re wrong. I am part of the best of this country. I’m not the worst part. And for some in Miami, all I try to be part of the best, what exalts, what builds, is seen, unfortunately, as the enemy of the good ideas, of affection, of love.
As somebody said “what others think of me, it’s their problem.” I do my job and I’m doing really well here. It must there be a reason for us to have an audience that respects us, that loves us, goes to concerts and learns the lyrics.
There is another audience that does not like our work, that disqualifies us that do not share our aesthetic. And we respect this audience.
Buena Fe already is and what it is called a “prophet in his own land” is said. But only very rarely popularity on the local scene that is Cuba has been transposed by a Cuban artist …
In the market for Latin music, will definitely be very difficult we achieve that. Now it gives me the same play at the National Auditorium in Mexico in Luna Park in Argentina. I’d love to do it, but I changed those dreams anymore.
When did those dreams change?
When I realized they were not in my hands. I had a professor in college who said the problem is something that has no solution. That to me has no solution. When the variables of life change, and I get in the way, then I’ll try to get there.
You are then considering life as an act of settling for anything …
No. I’m considering life as an act of redirecting the chimeras. My focus on chimeras may not be to win a Grammy, because it would frustrate me. Why should I buy a frustration, if I know it depends on a businessman who put me in the market (which we already know is marked by harsh policies toward Cuba), also I would have to sit well with that employer, I lose weight, put me nice, I get a fashionable hairstyle and sing songs of “Mommy, I love you, I for you get desperate.”
And from there, he projects me a one hundred thousand dollars video. And I ended up doing what I do not want.
There is n o point in doing that. It makes sense to take the longer way, which is to try to follow the muses calling for gifting me the songs I want, and in every concert, see someone sitting in front, trying to give me a Grammy with his gaze. That is a possible chimera.
The Grammy possible is that of Van Van, who won it, but it was forty years going through your head at the same spot. What is the possible legitimacy? The one of Pablo Milanes.
How many awards does Juanes have? As many as you want to say. How many Grammys does Calle 13 have? Some thirteen or fourteen. However, those artists admire Silvio who has how many Grammys? Not one. How many Grammys or great prizes does Carlos Varela have? The prize he has is going to perform at the Karl Marx and that people will still listen.
That’s the recognition that you can aspire while in Cuba. The other is to bet on a frustration. Because then you will live wondering: Why does not happen if this or that is such a good album?
The day you do not care, you can create with less pressure to create with other motivations. And motivational processes are very important for an artist.
Do you have frustrations as an artist?
Not really. I feel much fulfilled as a creator. Every year I have reason to make songs. This society gives me incredible stories to write. Every year we have hundreds of gigs to do, what we don’t have is throat to sing in all the places where they call us.
Do you have routines, times of day that you write, specific times for the creative process?
Not really. The songs come to me. They take my breath away, and make me write. Each song is a small thesis, the result of much thought to ideas, from right to left and from left to right of the head. It is an almost priestly process of thinking all the time about the possible song. And it is extremely exhausting. It eats you up.
But then it has the wonderful part that when you get a good song or that you consider good, and you premiere it to your audience and it would find it interesting that comforts any pain.
Yes I read a lot, I consume a lot of information: the good, the bad, the regular. I try to be as informed as possible to get the song out at the least disrespectful possible way.
What do you like to read?
Poetry. Many news. I see many audiovisual materials that are made independently in Cuba. But above all, try not to stay with the vision of Cuba that my eyes capture, because that is my bubble Cuba, and Cuba is much more than our bubble.
We travel a lot, we run around the country. And Jiguaní´s Cuba is not the same as Miramar´s. Books give a profound education, but there is nothing like walking the neighborhoods and see the face of the people. These people and their stories sometimes end in song.
Which living Cuban artists, in addition to those already mentioned do you respect?
Leonardo Garcia, an insurmountable troubadour from Santa Clara. A boy of my generation who cannot dream with Lucas, imagine if he will dream about the Grammys. Yet every year he comes out with fourteen and fifteen very good songs. I infinitely admire Donato Poveda, Gerardo Alfonso, Frank Delgado, Alexander Abreu. I like how Ivette Cepeda chooses the songs. I consume a lot of Cuban music, and look for that a little more underground music from other artists that are not that famous.