For people of my generation, Habana Abierta was something of a myth. It was a transgressive spirit that was growing in the womb and moving up the throat just in time to scream how great a rock and roll with timba sounds. The idea of seeing them live was unthinkable until they came with Barberia, about three years ago, the first symptoms of the return. The rest is known, the concert of La Tropical in 2012 without Kelvis or Boris, true, but equally moving-, finally restored us what we had known only by hearsay. The group restored the link with the island and some of its members are heard live since then in spaces throughout Cuba.
Luis Alberto Barberia is one that is here to stay and find the roots of their music again in Havana:
“I always say I went for a long walk, I never left here with the intention of staying to live anywhere. I just knew I could not live and die in a place without knowing the outside, and my music also needed that. I took a long journey and not expect to get this far or work with such great people and sharing the stage with guys who for me was unthinkable, but I knew that in my forties I would return to Cuba, and much more when I suddenly find out, as has happened to many of my colleagues, here my music and the music of Habana Abierta has been a benchmark for many people. I am very happy here, because I really need very little to live, walk the streets rediscovering things, listening to my music, singing to people, I ask no more, that’s quality of life “.
How does the creative process happen in you?
I suddenly say: it’s time to pick up the guitar, I pick up the guitar and I know what I’ll do. I start playing the guitar to look for things, to experiment and the song grows; I have no style or theme or anything. Suddenly, it comes out; I play a chord and things come out.
Do you have a muse, something that inspires you in particular?
The music. All that I have in my head, sometimes I hear a chord, take it out and then get something. It happened to me a lot in Spain, where I spent the day with guitar in hand and perhaps listening to a chord playing on TV. I cannot tell you that I sit and that´s it, no, and then the lyrics comes out of the melody.
After six months in Cuba, Barberia fell into a void of musical projects until he contacted the EGREM label and presented a project that finished with the recording of the album ¨A full¨, late last year. This album is, above all things, “to listen at home.”
“I wanted to make a record that was all that I have learned from music and all music means to me, it’s pure passion; that is, it has nothing to do with business. I make music for passion, the day I have to earn a living changing my story, I prefer to work in an agro and sell fruits. Today there are few records to listen at home, so people are listening to reggaeton. My desire is to be a leader in thirty years from now.
“A full is a funky mix of rumba that gives title to the CD, and it should because it gives the sense of speed, going for it. After twenty years out, it’s like a little back to the Island all it has given me in teaching. I’m going at full, but only musically, not seeking success or a hit. It is as we say in Habana Abierta, stopping is for those how have brakes…”
Passionate about vocal music and sacrifice involved in converting voice into an instrument, Barberia invited to the disk the girls of Sixth Sense, who conducted the vocal arrangements of all songs.
“When I discovered the work of the girls in Sixth Sense I was amazed and contacted them to make Rockotocompás in the concert of La Tropical in 2012. I sent them the song; they made the arrangement and released it. It was cute, and there I got the idea to make the entire disk. All vocal arrangements in A full are by Yudelkis Lafuente and Arletys Valdés.
“There are people who think my very first job in Cuba is risky, than how having the opportunity to make a record, I did not do it alone, but it would have been the same for me as they had done an album with my songs, I do not seek prominence but a job well done. I look for music, and work for music; if they are who stand out, I am happy, because they are giving life to my songs. “
A full also is an album to cheer:
We are living in a time when Cuba and the world of fast music with the goal of achieving success and advantage until another comes and dethrones it in that genre.
“Then A full is a disk also that cheers up, is for people with something to say and projects in their head; for people who say why I’ll do it, if it’s for nothing, if the music it prevails is the other. I think we can do it and must. There’s a larger audience for the well done music that for the bad one, what happens is that it is not the music that usually gets in the media “.
The recurring question when any of you record solo, is if Habana Abierta has come to its end, and you said no, Habana Abierta always be home…
Habana Abierta is still home, of course. It’s like parents house where I will always have a space. My CD is my little apartment, but the house is there and I own it, or at least I own one room. We have always had a parallel career, I know that urge people to think that Habana Abierta is over. There are people that leave, get married and never returns to the house, but there it is; there are his memories, his toys, his photographs, his drawer full of things …
We talk almost every day, and we are still giving life to the group and have projects, for example in 2017 will be twenty years of Habana Abierta and we have the idea of uniting the whole group, everyone who has left Habana Abierta to make its career and make it big in Cuba, in the US, maybe do a compilation album. They are the doors open to do some work, which does not aim is not willing, we have the will for us all to be in the twentieth anniversary “.
When you participated in the Longina 2014, could you somehow assess scenario of trova and alternative music made right now in Cuba?
Some of the most interesting things that are being done are there in Santa Clara, but I think the trova and alternative music began to wane when started to get paid for. We in the 90s and 80s never thought we were going to get a dollar to be singers, was the love for making music, none thought of money.
“As gypsies say, art has to hurt you, you have to leave your guts, if not out there it might be nice, but it’s not real. We boiled the strings of the guitar to sound better because we did not have money to change them. I remember I was with pliers in my pocket, because my guitar was missing pins, and to put a cap, had a pencil and a rubber band … So all that I think is forged and that is who is for love art or love to take benefit of art. I go to bed and wake up thinking about music. Always, music above all. “