Here are some excerpts from a recent CBC radio interview with world music columnist Reuben Mann and Café Con Pan's Alec Dempster.
Q: What kind of vision did you and Kali have when you started creating the album?
A: Well the vision was born out of Kali’s poetry. This music is very heavy on the verses, on the poetry that people write. Sometimes the songs are the same that you hear on different recordings because they’re traditional songs that people use but they’re renewed through the creation of new lyrics and new ways of singing them. So Kali and I moved to Toronto, although I grew up here. I was moving back and she was moving here for the first time. She was away from Mexico for a long time, because not having everything in order on the immigration front took a long time and it was better for her to stay put here. So she started writing poetry about where she was from and the tradition where she was from – in a very personal and allegorical way, referring to the landscape and animals and other more mythological things that are particular to where she’s from. There’s a lot of magic in that area. It’s associated with a bit of witchcraft – potions and conjuring. So I think there’s a lot of that spirit in it. It’s a very nostalgic album.
Q: How is this album different from other recordings you’ve made?
A: Well we did make another one, about four or five years ago in Xalapa, Veracruz, which was where my partner Kali and I lived. We’re the basis for the group. We did something in our bedroom: we turned it into a studio, every afternoon for a while. It got pretty hot in there because Xalapa gets hot in the month of May. We had to close all the windows and there was a lot of noise outside, dogs barking and cars passing by. We did it all with one microphone and overdubbing and using some technology and we took a lot of time. We tried one attempt and then had to go back and do it all over again as we were learning about how to use that way of making music. So for us it’s a bit hard to listen to because we were always listening to other recordings of musicians we like that were done under better circumstances, so that was one of the main motivations for us to do something new. We wanted it to sound better than the first one of course.
Q: How did your move to Toronto affect you and Kali and influence the album?
A: Moving here we just found ourselves to be isolated from people playing this kind of music. So we continued playing together a lot and I had to focus a lot on some of the instruments I was playing less of in Mexico because other people could do it, which was good for me on the technical side of things. And then I don’t know how it came to be that we started writing our own "sones," our own songs which is very satisfying to feel like you have something that’s your own that still feels part of the tradition that we can offer to people here but also offer to people that we haven’t seen that are part of the musical community, sort of create a dialogue. We already have a response from a group in Mexico that asked us permission to play one of the songs that’s on the new album – one of our songs. So we feel that our creations have been accepted. It’s actually tricky to contribute a new song to the repertoire that will be played at a fandango. It’s almost impossible. The same songs are played and have been played for 300 years at the fandangos. Of course new songs are played and are recorded and are fine at concerts but to actually have a song that people dance to at the traditional get-togethers, I wouldn’t aspire to that, that’s for sure [laughs].