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Interview mit Patricio Sobrado von Calle Real

Patricio Sobrado von Calle Real und Michael von Salsa-Berlin.de

Calle Real, eine schwedische Timba-Band hat mit ihrem aktuellem Album Me Lo Gane für viel Furore gesorgt. Wir hatten die Gelegenheit zu einem Interview mit dem Bandleader Patricio Sobrado.

Und unter unserer Rubrik CD des Monats findet Ihr eine CD-Besprechung des neuen Calle Real Albums

[«] Zurück zur Interview-Übersichtsseite

Michael: Patricio, Congratulations for the new album Me Lo Gane ... for me one of the best Timba album in the last years! Could you tell us a little bit about the title of the album?

Well first of all, thank you Michael for your kind words. I translated your review with Google (from German to English) and it made me happy to read that somebody likes us so much that he puts us at the same level as the "Llego Van Van" album. That is a good and remarkable album to me too, so I find this comparison really honoring. The album has the same name as the track number three, "Me lo gané". It is our second album which took us three years to launch counting from the first one Con Fuerza (2006). Calle Real was formed by 2009 although its actual line-up was accomplished in 2003. So, keeping that in mind one might say we deliver a new CD every three years. We hope though to be faster with the third one.

The title of the CD and the third track of the album has to do with the fact that we love our audience and that we wanted to come back with a smashing new album. It is our gift to them and we really wanted it to be good. This is how we understand the fact that we have followers from different corners of the world. We won their appreciation by being faithful to our taste, being perseverant and working out all the obstacles stopping our music to reach the fans.

We gain the appreciation from our followers by delivering, doing and keeping "luchando" (Cuban jargon for giving it a good fight). Maybe because after 10 years of existence people might consider that we really mean what we are doing, that has overcome the first initial miss-trust for not being Cubans.

Finally is the belief that we are doing good music that we like that is the main drive for us being here and for this we are grateful to our audience who likes to listen to our music.

Michael: Could you tell us something about the creation of the album? Who wrote the songs, where was it recorded and mixed ....

The creation of this second album was similar in many ways to the creation of the first album. We still made the music, the lyrics and produce ourselves.

The songs are still written by mainly the same persons with Thomas Eby and myself wrapping it up at the final stage. This time we have songs who's base and initial ideas came from Petter Linde, Karl Frid, Gunnar Thullberg, Thomas Eby and myself. We included also an updated old track "Abreme la puerta" who's initial idea came from a former band member. The horn arrangements where done by Petter Linde, Karl Frid and Magnus Wiklund - whom became a band member after the first album -. The strings arrangements where done mainly by Karl Frid except for the song "Los dos sabemos". Here we got help from the same person who made the strings arrangement for the song "Soy bueno, soy malo (La Rosa)" from the last album.

What we changed this time was the recording location, the process and the mixing. We used a nice and cosy studio in Lund, south of Sweden, with access to large recording rooms and state-of-the-art recording equipment. It was a house/studio located in the middle of a potato growing field where we locked ourselves during some weeks to make it happen. Well at place there was nothing else to do other than to focus on the recording. The process of recording was different too since this time we recorded nearly everything in a much shorter period of time. The strings where recorded in Stockholm at Andreas Unge's own studio, as well as some effects. The lead voice was recorded mainly in hotel rooms around Sweden when Thomas Eby and Andreas Unge where on a Sweden tour with a Swedish pop artist as session musicians.

We mixed the material together with the recording engineer for this album at the same studio where we recorded.

Michael: Calle Real is a band from Sweden - all band members were grown in Sweden, also Rickard Valdés. How became these swedish guys Salsa musicians?

You might think it was more closer for Rickard to became a salsa musician since his father is the still living latin pianist and legend Bebo Valdés, but this it wasn't. Rickard started to dedicate his time seriously to music only when grown up. Playing with his father on the successful come back tour after the album "Lágrimas Negras" was maybe what made it for him. Of course, Rickard has been playing with Calle Real since the very start so this was probably also a main factor for him to turn into a salsa musician.

For the rest of the guys it is remarkable I must admit, that they entered the salsa scene with such an emphasize. Many of the members knew each other before they entered Calle Real, since when we looked for someone we always picked up people from our network. Trust me when I say this, it is not easy to become a member of Calle Real. But still, why?

I think it has to do with several factors. One of them being that Calle Real stands for a joyful and energetic dedicated mission and that the members are respected overall musicians in other genres. This is probably why most of the musicians are constantly on-tour with the most respected pop artists in Sweden. One other factor is that we write our own music and as such it is an expression of ourselves. Our songs are taken from the context where we live and are thus a depiction of current time both in regards to music, lyrics but also presentation and show. One third factor would be because the music we do is Timba and as such it really is a challenge for any musician to perform it.

There is a lot of job for the horns and they really get in focus. The same goes for the backing vocals. The rhythm section has its own challenge to handle. The poly-rhythmics inherent to Timba are probably one of the most demanding for all percussion players from drums, timbales, congas and guiro, but also for the percussively played instruments such as base, piano and Cuban tres.

It is fun to play this music since it has such an unlimited groove potential.

Latin music has always catched the interest of the Swedish music lovers since ages. Bebo Valdés came to Sweden during the 60's with the Lecuona Cuban Band and stayed here. Since then the latin and salsa music has come in larger and larger doses for each year. Still it is a marginated music style. The foundation for Latin music was already well founded in Sweden when the smashing Buena Vista Social Club album conquered the world.

This is probably the reason why many young musicians newly examined for musical colleges in Sweden had a curiosity for Cuban music and finally spent quite a time in Cuba studying it. So was the case for Gunnar Thullberg (piano and guitar), Thomas Eby (percussion and song), Karl Frid (trombone, guiro and backing vocal) and myself (tres and backing vocal) In the case of Andreas Unge his former experience of playing Brasilian and Persian music together with being a producer and well hired studio session musician in pop made him open to a lot of new styles. I still think Timba is a challenge to Andreas. The same goes for Harry Wallin the drummer and now also timbalero of the band. He is a drummer playing very diverse musical styles ranging from pop and rock to hip-hop, reggae, ska, jazz, high-life. Thomas Eby taught and Harry where friends since school time and Thomas taught some basics to Harry. The rest of it has Harry invented by himself. Playing the timbales together with the drums is what makes a challenge to him.

Michel Zitron is one of our newest member. He is actually a rather famous pop producer and sing/song-writer in Sweden and raise up in a ethno-cultural diverse environment with many Spanish speaking friends. Although he doesn't speak Spanish he has a very good pronunciation and has managed to create his own fan group in France through his charisma and voice.

For the horns I must say that the high tunes of the trumpet is really a challenge. For the trombones the rhythmic and timing aspect are one hell of a job. The reason why we can not play more than three hours at once is just because of the tremendous work the horns have to do. They can barely talk after a concert with such tired lips. I believe this is a challenge to them too.

Michael: And how and why did the band find the way to the Timba ... in Sweden?

The way to Timba started with son. The embryo of the band Calle Real started in 1998 playing old Cuban traditional songs like "Lágrimas negras", "Olvido" and "Son de la loma" by Trio Matamoros, Guillermo Portabales "El Carretero" and of course some modern songs of Compay Segundo "Chan Chan" and the now ubiquitous "El Cuarto de Tula" by Luis Marquetti. Soon after forming the band we wrote our own cha-cha called Gozando that was a little of a success by then. You can listen to the whole song at the Calle Real's fan page at Facebook.

We we started playing son there were already other bands trying to play Timba music and traditional Cuban music too. The success of the album Buena Vista Social Club opened the way for more Cuban music to come. By that time there were many Cuban musicians living in Stockholm, from Calixto Oviedo the former drummer of NG La Banda, to Bebo Valdes and many other musicians and singers from different Timba bands in Cuba that stayed in Stockholm. By some reason hard to explain many Cuban musician stay in Sweden. They started their own bands with a mixture of Cuban music and native Swedish musicians, many of whom already had been in Cuba.

We were just one of those many bands that got hooked by this music. By then all the Cuban playing musicians where busy playing with others so when we looked for new talents we started with those that were interested in learning the Cuban style.

As I mentioned before, we played son from the beginning. We did that for a while and when some of our musicians went to Cuba for a longer staying and we replaced them with a drummer - Harry Wallin - and a guitar player whom also played the Timba piano - Gunnar Thulberg -. When the others musicians came back we kept Harry and Gunnar and this was probably what made us to experiment with the sound of rhodes and piano in the arrangements of our new songs.

Many of the songs that we wrote were getting more and more up-tempo and were no longer the laid back traditional songs that we once started with. They reminded more of furios descargas instead of soft montunos in the montuno part of the songs. The newer songs contained more and more piano and finally Gunnar was playing merely only the piano.

Thomas Eby and I were writing songs for a while and we soon came we the idea that he would sing a song too. We went to Cuba 2003 and played our own songs for a very enthusiastic and large Cuban audience at the festival Benny More and it worked well. Specially the songs that were closer to Timba. By then the Cuban thought our song "Sueña conmigo" was a Charanga Habanera cover, which of course it wasn't but it was a honoring opinion to hear. This song was sung by Thomas Eby. Coming back from the festival our former singer and his wife quit the band because having two small childrens was more than they could bear. Thomas took the final sing position and has been doing that since then.

When we decided us to gather songs for what would be our debut album we had already a lot of songs that never entered the album. This songs where our initial steps into Timba music song writing and were good training.

Michael: How is the Salsa scene in Sweden ... is it difficult to live as musician from the Salsa music?

The salsa scene is marginalized in Stockholm and the rest of Sweden. There are some people that like it and are very dedicated to it. They go to dance courses some of them and many others go to concerts. After the success of the Buena Vista Social Club album there was a boom in latin music and clubs with live music. I could sum up to 20 different salsa or timba bands in Stockholm by then.

There were some clubs that had two live bands per month during a large period. Those were the good days, Today the situation is the opposite. We are happy if we see a live band every two month.

The fact that club owners and promotors do a lot of events is in close relationship to the amount of band playing Timba or Salsa that exists since there is a demand for the music and a place where to expose it.

It is therefore impossible to live as musician from Salsa music in Sweden. If a musician wants to pay his/her rent from music earning he/she must be all-round and talented as hell, since there are tons of good musicians over here. But I suppose it's the same everywhere.

Michael: Do you like the Salsa scene here in Berlin?

I had the chance to visit Berlin in May 2009 and pay a visit to the Club Havana place once. I do not know much about the salsa scene in Berlin except that it should be particular since Berlin is so particular. I enjoyed it very much when I heard the audience where dancing to our songs. Thanx for that.

Michael: Patricio, thank you very much for the interview and we wish you a big success with the albums and we hope to see the band live here in Berlin!

See the WEB-site of Calle Real: http://www.callereal.se/