Santiago Auserón stars in a duo format this Saturday in Ibiza in the concert that completes the Cañas'n'Roll cycle. The veteran musician continues to defend his profession tooth and nail, although he is highly critical of the work of multinational music companies. Auserón —Juan Perro since the essential national rock band that was Radio Futura was dissolved — is shown so enthusiastic about the profession of musician as critic with the business of multinationals.
After the situation we have experienced in the last two years, with the pandemic and confinement, who has the most desire for live music, the public or the musicians?
We all have the same desire. We thought that the precaution when exiting the pandemic would cool the concerts, but the answer is totally the opposite. The public wants culture, artistic work, sharing enriched imagination, rejoicing with ideas and sounds. Musicians, I won't tell you: we have resisted and we want to make the songs more beautiful and improve contact with the public.
How have you lived with the music in this last year and a half?
Musicians have not stopped studying or practicing, or writing or composing. I have made an album that I hope will be in the spring, with the same line-up as 'Cantos de ultramar'. By not having to travel, I dedicated more hours to writing, to the guitar, to new songs. It had been a long time since I was going so fast with songwriting.
You know a lot about Latin music, Latin rock, and you left your testimony in the documentary series 'Rompan todo', which travels through the history of rock in Latin America. Do you still have something of the rocker that was?
I still have a lot of rocker, old rocker inevitably. Although I have approached Cuban son and now I work with jazz musicians, I have not stopped being a rocker. The pulse, the basic beat, is rock and roll, which is electric music that seeks the intensity of direct emotion in the performance and in listening to music. In my case, that essence is enriched by the search for borders, with a very important inclination towards traditional Cuban son and jazz.
Are you more than learned from rock and from jazz you still have to learn?
The jazz musicians I work with are my musical university. I am not a jazz player, but I am a jazz lover, as well as flamenco, blues and other styles. But jazz is the musical genre that develops the maximum intelligence without leaving the format of the popular song, or the popular even if it is not a song. And for a rocker, jazz is also a formidable school because rock has its own virtues to which the jazz player should not turn his back.
But today rock does not transcend, it does not shake consciences. It's not cool anymore.
Rock has been deliberately kicked out of business. The multinationals, now reduced to three, Warner, Sony and Universal, have pushed aside independent, experimental and creative music. For a few decades these musics had the primacy in the media and direct access to the public, and they showed that many records could be sold by making art with popular music. Today those who want to control the business without worrying about artistic protocols have thrown out rock and jazz to dedicate themselves to making pasta in large quantities at full speed with the easiest and most banal music. The music business right now is a factor of destruction of culture that draws a very dark horizon for the new generations. Today's music is like junk food that won't leave any mark in the future.
"Rock has been deliberately thrown out of business by multinationals"
Is there no other music today that can once again have the social and cultural impact that rock had?
It is that they leave you without space in the media. These multinationals prepared in advance for the era of digitization to retain absolute dominance over the dissemination of digital music and gradually eliminate more expensive formats and drive out the artists they considered marginal. If the media allowed the audience access to the most interesting music, things would be otherwise, but they do not allow it.
In addition to being a philosopher, what are you: musician, scholar, popularizer ...?
A bit of all that. I am a bit touched by the wing. I need to think in terms of loudness, I need to make songs even if the records are not sold. I need to interact with the musicians and with the public to finish building the songs. And then I need to reflect on that whole process.
"I am satisfied with the satisfaction of saying that at 67 years old I have improved with the guitar"
Free and unclassifiable?
Very free yes. It is not about classifying, but about doing something that one can take to the ear with pleasure. Musicians equate ourselves to any other profession that wants to preserve good work and dignity. Make good bread, good pastry, caring gardening, and pesticide-free. Today the word culture is suspect. Western culture is talent shows, the mainstream of the digital music business. More than culture, I prefer to talk about cultivation.
In a long musical career like yours and at 67, do you have any goals to achieve?
With advancing a little I am satisfied. A few days ago I finished recording guitars in my studio for the new album and the stress of preparing that work that I have rehearsed all summer does not let me sleep. I am satisfied with the satisfaction of saying that at 67 years old I have improved with the guitar. And if I finish a research text in which I am able to illuminate a new idea, despite the weight of the years, I find myself with a song in my teeth.
He has said on several occasions that Radio Futura is a thing of the past. Even if the group never reappears, what would it sound like today?
I would have something that Luis [Auserón, su hermano] and I have done each one on their own. A clue of what we would be is given by the last song we wrote, for 'Tierra para baile': 'El puente azul', which was a type of rock tradition song with some electronic dance, like an electric poetry with an ultramarine horizon.