An Interview with Santa Lucia LFR by SBS part 2 (final)
#1 SBS: Heading into the final quarter of this year…it’s going to get COLD here as you know…and no doubt, you’ve got a worldwide fan-base all-over the globe – have you got any plans to take your music to somewhere warmer in the winter this year or are you staying local?
German: ha ha ha I wish I could be playing in Hawaii or Brisbane, Australia the whole winter but no,. We are staying local. Winter it’s a good time to record ideas, I have three new songs we are trying to fuse them into Latin funk beauties.
SBS: How far travel-wise has the music of Santa Lucia made it to anyhow?
German: The whole Western Canada all the way to Toronto and back from Yellowknife to Haida Gwaii to the Western states in the US.
#2 SBS: With all the worldly-experience of the players in the band, I’m assuming the music has also made it to some pretty exotic places, yes?
German: Did a couple of gigs in Melbourne Australia last spring, not the whole band tho!. A stop over in Soul, Korea at a karaoke bar, had the album’s karaoke tracks and in I go into this bar presenting and singing Santa Lucia songs (Laughs). It doesn’t get any worldly than that is in it?. Had a lot of beer that night too,. Not good for my vocals.
#3 SBS: Would it be fair to say that Suppressed Anthems would be your ‘best’ album to-date?
German: well you know you always striving for the best, right? my brain works differently tho,. My brain doesn’t compare albums, it focuses on individual songs instead. I have a couple songs that I’m very proud the way they turned out on the previous record and a few on this one so I measure success of individual songs rather than whole album projects.
#4 SBS: Obviously I wouldn’t want you to trash your own music by comparison…but there’s no doubt a few things here and there on this record that are possible now, that perhaps weren’t before. Now, that factor alone might not be what makes it the ‘best’ – but I sincerely believe that an artist’s or band’s current work should reflect their ‘best’ – do you agree?
Byron: OK so here’s the deal really just comes down to a prospective thing I mean some days you’re in the mood for one some days you’re in the mood for the other right so I don’t think we really play favorites between the two albums I think there are elements of the previous one i know I like and some element of the second that pops so really just comes down to what kind of mood you’re in at the time I mean, at the end of the day they’re both are babies man and we love them equal.
#5 SBS: Looking back and listening to the previous records in comparison – do you still feel the songs hold-up today as strongly as you did then when you first recorded them? What’s the key in great song-writing that leads to songs or albums truly lasting throughout the years?
German: Some of the songs on The Street/Las Calles album like Muchacha, Cuento and Lupita still hold their weight in gold those three in particular have had tremendous pull, even after playing them for a few years at clubs and festivals. On the SA album which by the way we went a little bit traditional with cumbias and salsa-feel-rock tunes 5 out of 11 tracks have become our party anthem at festivals. Hey people out there,. go buy the record and see for yourself which ones, I think you know I’m talking about.
Key in great song writing?,. huh, just don’t plan on it. Let it happen.
#6 SBS: German, as lead song-writer for Santa Lucia – how do you ensure that all the musical-needs of the band get met along the way?
German: Well, by bribing them with a good cigar and the best rum I can find. Just kidding,. Seriously, I give it to these guys for sticking around with such an experimental project like this. When we go on the road I’ll try to make the experience as much stress free as I can, I mean we don’t need to Drive 20 miles off the road just to go get an organic latte and drive everybody insane.
Byron: Being stuck in a van driving for hours is punishment enough to test someone’s insanity.
#7 SBS: Everyone needs input at some time or another, and people need to actively contribute in order to stay involved…or at least I’ve always assumed so. I would think it would be extremely tough to coordinate and drive the will of six additional players otherwise, that’s for sure! So hopefully everyone is on board and enjoys playing the music that you write for the band…but I’m curious as to how you kind of going about keeping that in-check. How do you know they play a large enough role in the band for what they’d like to contribute…is there discussion on that?
German: Let me put it this way, playing live it’s a democracy when making the record it’s a dictatorship. We record live versions of the songs and when performing them onstage everyone has a feel for it where and what should change in a song and stuff like that. Ideas are exchange and notes are taken. Once at the studio, recording the final product I’m the official dictator,
Byron: “el jefe” sort of speak, haha.
German: Making sure we stick to the plan otherwise it becomes very chaotic. Making records isn’t my favorite pass-time, they are very budget driven and very exhausting.
SBS: When it comes to difficult decisions on which songs should make a record or not – who do you trust with input on that and what made them part of that inner-circle of support?
German: I would say Byron plays a good role in this, he knows his instrument very well and he’s very compatible with other horn players including the challenging characters we have had in the past. Not to mention his kyokushin style in Black belt he’s got. (laugh).. players don’t want to mess around if they get the wrong notes if you know what I mean (more laugh).. He’s got a good feel for what sounds good and feels good. I trust him with that.
#8 SBS: Over the years since 1999…I’d assume there had to be ups and downs and members being more/less involved on certain songs and albums…jeez German – I suppose what I’m asking is how do you keep’em all happy?
Byron: The first five years were a very inactive stage for us but yes., we had our ups and downs.
German: I’ve seen a good deal of personal issues with other players, breaking it to people is not easy, I always tell them, this is more like a chance to take a break from each other,. I’ve always welcome ex-members as long as they get a good grasp of what’s business and what’s friendship.
Byron: As I mentioned earlier we’re always open to different perspectives when it comes to input but to be honest there never seems to be discontent among the members,. We’re too busy having a good time! We got no time for negative energy, there is enough of that in the world. If you surround yourself with positive people then you can expect happy vibes will follow.
SBS: Was there anything you felt you had accomplished differently at the end of recording Suppressed Anthems than on the other records?
German: Yes, for one, we broke the vicious cycle of being a one record band and second financing our own records which is not easy, accomplishing that is a huge personal achievement for everyone involve. Musically speaking I feel the songs in this record were slightly complex than in the previous record, challenging everyone’s ability to do their best.
SBS: Anything in particular that you set out to do…maybe even a song you weren’t sure was going to come out as well as it did…something that surprised you in how the songs came out on this record?
German: The song writing was another challenge as I needed to keep the songs dance floor friendly without losing the strong message, yet keeping songs compatible enough to be festival material.
#9 SBS: Obviously a lot of time was spent on both the music and production – it came out sparkling! So what put the magic into Suppressed Anthems and compared to how you play these songs live – did they come out how you thought they would? Why/why not?
German: There were small details that brought some of the songs to shine from its darker state, songs like “War” a surf rock feel kind of tune that by adding Latin percussion elevated the song to be more upbeat, taking it out of a monotonous two chord progression. In others like “Lupita” Byron’s sax touch have the song the soul it needed.
Byron: “I Will” was the most challenging song on this record i would say, even tough its one of the easiest songs live.
German: yeah,. the vocals were a pain to nail, the horns were having a lot of frustrating moments laying the tracks., In paper looks great but laying it down physically was a headache, it took a toll on everyone. I’m still not happy with it. A song with a life of its own for sure!.
SBS: Who has been in your corner the entire time and supported you throughout your career in music?
German: There are a few people on the list, but one that’s at the top of my list besides family and friends of course it would have to be Koat at Worldbeat Canada.
#10 SBS: What key roles of support have been played by others surrounding your music? Tell us a story or two about some of these amazing people that have helped you along the way!
German: Cal Koat it’s a pretty good candidate, his support right from the start has been extraordinary. He has always embrace what I’ve done as a band, always believe in us be it in the form of an interview or making us part of his yearly events like the Dragon Boat Festival. He has been terrific.
Topping that list would be Mick Williams and German Silva, they are my Aussie connections. I’ve been going to Australia for a few years now and I’ve always being received with such warmth welcome and awesome attitudes by these two mates. Mick have helped me introduce the music to the Aussie audience through his radio station at PBS 106.7 in Melbourne granting me a few interviews and German my pal from Chile setting me up with a couple of gigs down under and introducing me musicians for a future tour.
#11 SBS: Alright Santa Lucia – you made it! This is the end and you’ve put up with enough from me by now I’m sure! I want to say thank you to you all once again for your time, and for your music… Before we go completely – I’d like to offer you the ‘open-floor’ – a space where you can say anything else at all you would have wanted to bring up in the interview, shout out people you love, or say whatever else comes to mind. The floor is yours gentlemen – and thank you once again!
Byron: The only shot out we got is to our loyal fans, the ones that had stuck with us since day one. They always provide inspiration to continue pushing the musical envelop in different ways. We really feed off then.
German: We really look forward to continue feeding that desire for our fans and meeting new ones along the way.
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