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La Santa Muerte
Luz Azul Collective
January 03, 2016
La Onda Musical de Gilberto Rodriguez
Musician and Activist Gilberto Rodriguez captures your attention with his earnestness and urgency. The music off his debut LP, "Desde los de Colibri" is inspired by the Nueva-Trova musical movement of Cuba, the sounds of the Mexican/American border, his indigeneity and musical contemporaries in an emerging latino musical scene in California.
We walk through the streets of San Francisco with Gilberto on his way to record finishing tracks off his album at Different Fur Studios. Our podcast is recorded throughout various stops along the way, touching on life, art and family roots in California
Photography by Kolepa Phy and Claudia Li
Entrevista con El Cantor entre las Calles del Barrio:
How do you approach your indigenous identity?
It's complicated. My parents raised me in California the majority of my life. I was born in the Los Angeles General Hospital in 88'. My earliest years were spent with my family at Plazita Olvera across the street from LA Union Station. They lived and worked within the immigrant refugee center where displaced Nicaraguense, Salvadorian, Honduran, Guatemalan, and other civil war affected people would arrive and figure out their next step.
So my most immediate experience with indigeniety was cloaked under an overarching narrative of our latin immigrant diaspora. Direct answers regarding tribal ancestry were usually coded in stories of survival which was the most immediate concern for our families.
My community, parents and grandparents gave us glimpses into our prehispanic traditions through foods, mannerisms, sayings and stories but colonization meant that the deeper roots sometimes lay dormant.
I've come to learn that as original people of the land we are intrinsically tied to specific geographies that require complex relationships overtime. To develop a spiritual, physical and mental connection to the land, must be reciprocal and not forced. But how can you do this when circumstance sets boundaries that prevent you from doing so?
Many of us find ourselves in this situation. But it's OK because we live in a time where we are awakening and flowering as a people.
How do politics shape your music?
Our first breath was a political action- An act of political dissidence by means of existence. Now when I pick up my instrument or write a line, often times it's something like treason only because that which moves the content of the music are the ungovernable forces beyond the reach of the state.
Who would you like to perform with?
Jimi Hendrix, Los Cadetes de Linares, Hamac Cazzim, Jessica Pratt, Quitapenas, Erykah Badu, Chalino Sanchez, Jack Rose, Lydia Mendoza, Junior Kimbrough, Los Cojolites, Wolf Eyes and the list goes on!
In your wildest dreams where would you like to take your music?
I am always drafting dream tours throughout Mexico and beyond. I would like to move through Los Angeles and New Mexico. 2016 into the Caribbean sounds right. Perhaps along the Isthmus of Tehuantepec and then into Belize and further down south past Panama. New York. The Arctic northwest up the Kobuk River. Throughout the Secwepemc Nation. On the hand bill playing for the Tuareg people alongside Tinariwen somewhere in Northern Africa's Sahara.
Where is your sound going next?
"Desde los de Colibri" was a monsoon like creation, a humid storm that felt very apocalyptic in scope. It was a dark and lonely adventure for the most part. There was a big lyrical emphasis. I lived alongside each song. An album written on the road throughout jungles, barrios, prisons and mountain top villages in Mexico and California. A 12-string guitar slinger type of sound in all terrain drive in any kind of weather. I am grooving more now, moving slower through the creative process. Taking time to pause and improvise on melodic and vocal phrasing. Assigning color to tone and verse.
Purchase "Desde los de Colibri"
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La Onda Musical de Gilberto Rodriguez
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